Duck and Cover

Why do people throw things? At people they don’t know? In public?

I greet 300 to 600 people every shift, five days a week. So a couple of wanna-be pitchers isn’t that many in the grand scheme. But geez.

Tossed item #1: A pager. At me, roughly neck-high, but I dodged it with a nifty head swerve. Why such an outburst from a guest? I had quoted the gentleman and his date a 20-minute wait and given him a pager. He hung close to the podium, asking me every minute or so where he was on the list. Within 15 minutes, my seater told me she had a table for him–give her a couple of minutes and she’d set it. I told the guest, assuming he would be pleased. He was not.

“A couple of more minutes?” he shrieked. I am getting damn tired of waiting for this so-called table.” And zing went the pager. Sorry sir, we’ll try harder next time.

Tossed item #2: The basket of matches measuring roughly 5″ x 7″ that sits on the counter top of the podium. A well-dressed woman was leaving with her party, and I said my usual goodbye and thank you. In a flash, she reaches over and tosses the basket of matches past my arm and toward the back of the podium area. Matchbooks spill everywhere, and for a second and a half, I figure she tipped the basket over by accident.

“Why do you have these here? You shouldn’t have matches here! No one needs to smoke! Where are the mints, where are the mints?” she screams.

And before I can answer she glares at me, “And now I suppose you want me to pick those up,” gesturing to the matchbooks on the floor.

It is the height of lunch, and my foyer is teeming with customers coming in or leaving, and I am too stunned to come up with the perfect reply.

Instead, I get an attitude: “Ma’am, this is my podium and the matches stay where I put them. And no, I don’t need your help picking them up.”

Later, a group of managers heard tell of this incident and chimed in on what they would have done:

“I’d have lit a match in a bunch of the books and thrown ’em at her.”

“I’d have thrown ’em all back and told her to get the f— out.”

Yeah right. Good for laughs.

When stuff gets thrown at you, it happens too fast to react the way you want to. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.