“Have a seat,” used to be a polite invitation, which now has
metamorphosed to “Where are the chairs?”
Time was not long ago that businesses provided chairs,
inside and out front. The thought occurred at a well-attended
antiques show out near the airport this past weekend, where men and
women, having paid 8 bucks to get in and spend their remaining
money were required to stand outside, leaning against the building,
to smoke, talk, or while away some time. No longer are chairs
there. Only sore backs.
This is so in many places, including plush venders’
establishments. Trying to wedge one’s way inside a well-known
coffee shop, hoping that those occupying the spaces inside with
their laptop computers or recent novels, there is nothing to do to
but while a way outside. There is a double chair within view far
down the walkway, too far to offer access to coffee or to guess
which of the semi-permanent guests inside might decide to
There could be several reasons for the disappearance of
chairs. Theft of those outside is one, but a remote one. More
likely the disappearance is due to a desire of business not to
encourage guests to linger. Buy, and leave, seems the motto. The
antique emporium provides a single chair at each antique offering
site, occupied by the entrepreneur whose stand it is.
Speaking of buying. Ever hear of a mall with an admission
charge? The minimum at the antique show is usually eight dollars,
eight dollars for the privilege of wandering inside to see if there
is anything worth having.
The absence of chairs for those who wait is simply a sign
of these times. They never heard of those who also serve but
only stand and wait.
About the Author
Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.
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