Another Perspective

Missing Chairs

Nothing like making a shopper fell unwelcome.

By 9.22.10

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"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 leave.

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.

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.