I walked into Marion bar and restaurant on Gertrude St yesterday morning, as they do breakfast on the weekend. I asked for a table for one and was told to sit anywhere vacant. I sat down at a round table for three and the waiter who had said sit anywhere immediately came over and fussed.
I may need to move you later if a large group comes in he said. I replied that I wanted to be seated somewhere where I could enjoy my meal without being asked to move in the middle of it. He said stay there, gave me a menu, took my coffee order and went away. As welcomes go I’ve experienced better. Does three count as a large group these days? It didn’t make sense to me.
The coffee was good and I ordered merguez sausage and shakshouka with shanklish, which proved to be delicious, as was the small and very soft and fluffy Turkish bread rolls it came with. I picked up the dead tree media and read a review of a car I will never afford to own. How quaint, I thought, people still buy newspapers and magazines.
I looked around at the white middle aged people just like me in the room, with their designer scarfs and artisanal sandals. I contemplated my intellectual and existential isolation from the people around me. I heard murmurs about real estate and school holiday activities. I wondered if, to other people including them, I looked like I fitted in. I may have looked like I did, but I didn’t feel like it.
I finally remembered that Marion is owned by the same owner as Cutler and Co, which is nearby and where I once experienced terrible customer experience. The philosophy at these businesses seems to be to train their wait staff to embody maximum smugness and to treat people like rubbish so they will never return. It works on me – I’ve never returned to Cutler and Co and am unlikely to at Marion.
When I went to pay the woman at the counter presented the EFTPOS machine to me without asking how I would like to pay. I pulled my wallet out of my pocket and handed her cash. She looked confused, then dismissive. How quaint, she thought, he still uses legacy currency. Apparently paying with cash is now a sign of inferior social status. I was definitely not welcome.