Overheard Customer Interactions: Let Me Explain Capitalism


This morning I’d dropped into my favorite bar and for once, did not have a breakfast of Old Milwaukee and a pickled egg. Instead I ordered coffee and chatted with the bartender. While we talked about the previous evening’s bad decisions, a young man walked in and sat himself at the bar. I got to witness the following:

BARTENDER: Good morning! Here for some breakfast today?

YOUNG AWKWARD FELLOW: No, I’m just going to chill. [Takes out tablet, pecks away at it with purpose.]

B: Uh… can I get you some coffee? Juice? Another beverage?

YAF: No thanks, I’m good.

B: Well, you can’t… you can’t just sit here. You have to order something.

YAF: I have to order something?

B: Yes. We’re a restaurant. So if you’re going to be here, you have to order something.

YAF: What?

B: That’s how we make money. We provide services. So you can’t just sit here and use wi-fi without making a purchase.

YAF: I have to… I have to pay for something?

B: Yes. Exactly. You have to pay for something.

YAF: [Blank stare]

B: That’s… that’s how this works. We’re a business. You need to buy something. Anything.

YAF: Oh. Huh. Well, okay.

He folded up his tablet device thingy and shuffled out the door. We spent a few minutes trying analyzing the situation, and then another bar patron interrupted. “He’s still stealing wi-fi.” And so he was—standing directly in front of the entrance, merrily typing away.

“Goddammit,” said the bartender. “I’m shutting off the wi-fi.”

He strode off with purpose and returned a moment later. We watched the young awkward fellow as his steady tablet tapping dwindled to a slow peck, and finally halted. Being horrible people, we laughed.

The young man frowned and packed up his tablet in defeat. He wandered away, presumably to test the capitalistic tendencies of another business. Funny, he didn’t look like a Marxist…