Service of Looking for Trouble

February 10th, 2020

Categories: Movies, Restaurant, Retail, Trouble

Some people look for trouble usually, but not always, to benefit themselves.

Folks in retail have many tales to tell. Yesterday there was a kerfuffle at a Manhattan chain drugstore. One of the employees, planted to escort customers to the aisle and product they need and to keep an eye on things had apparently accused a woman of stealing. She responded by screaming at the top of her lungs. I moved to another part of the store pronto.

A friend who works in a boutique has too many stories of customers who try to pull one over on the business. At the slightest hint that they won’t get their way these shady customers also yell and scream. This is a good strategy because they know that no retailer wants to discourage other customers who are uncomfortable with a fight. While infuriated, my friend is forced to give them what they want.

I’ve written before about the woman who sat behind me at a restaurant. The place was ¬†having a bad staff day. I’d been there many times and service was prompt but something had happened–most likely a chunk of waiters had called in sick. The remaining ones were scrambling, apologizing profusely along the way. This customer wanted a free meal and ratcheted up her negative claims escalating from “You are discriminating against me because I’m a woman eating alone!” which was unlikely as the restaurant was in Grand Central Terminal where lots of women travel and eat alone to “I’m a cancer victim. I want to see the manager!”

More recently a friend and I were listing our favorite movies. We agreed on Gigi. She told me about an acquaintance, perhaps inspired by the Me-Too movement, who claimed that the song “Thank Goodness for Little Girls” was disgusting and smacked of something dark.¬† You be the judge. Think 1958 when the movie premiered.

The words Maurice Chevalier sang:

“Each time I see a little girl
Of five or six or seven
I can’t resist a joyous urge
To smile and say
Thank heaven for little girls
For little girls get
Bigger every day
Thank heaven for little girls
They grow up in
The most delightful way.
Those little eyes
So helpless and appealing
When they were flashing
Send you crashing
Through the ceiling”

This reminded me of the woman who threatened to sue a former wallpaper client because she claimed that the pattern–letters of the alphabet sprinkled in all directions–spelled nasty words inappropriate for a child’s room. Sure, all the letters for millions of words were in that wallcovering but really, talk about a stretch.

Do you have examples of people who look for trouble because that’s just how they are or because they want something for free? Is it valid to rip into vintage films, songs or books and measure them by today’s sensibilities and contemporary word usage thereby placing them in a cultural or entertainment dustbin?

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4 Responses to “Service of Looking for Trouble”

  1. ASK Said:

    Welcome to the world of entitlement…no doubt these are the same people who screamed bloody murder when Mommy said “No!” As to Gigi, I am so tired of these “woke” opinions. We all might as well neuter ourselves.

  2. Martha Takayama Said:

    I do know and unfortunately have shared meals with people who constantly are sending food back (usually a half eaten dish) with drastic complaints of various sorts. It is horribly unpleasant and embarrassing. Unfortunately it is usually done to get a freebie or the benefit of more than one choice.I hesitate to return to the place of the scene for fear of being remembered. I know people who wear clothes before deciding whether or not to keep them which I find a very unappealing and unsanitary practice. Lastly I have witnessed or been with people who create or elevate a moment into an episode of maltreatment or neglect, perhaps for attention itself or for a freebie. All of this kind of behavior makes me want to hide under a rock. However, doesn’t our current President use all of these and myriad other obnoxious and questionable patterns of behavior and remain unchecked? Perhaps we have to question what are our current social standards and norms.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You created an indelible and accurate visual for me of the screaming child at the checkout line holding on to candy for dear life while parent or guardian tries to pry it away and finally gives up. Perfect. And I loved your reaction to the complaint about the song in Gigi. Here here! Enough already.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Great examples. I can remember returning a soup that had curdled twice in my life and I only had taken one sip each time. My father looked alarmed when I mentioned it to the waiter in the first instance. I have never been a fussy eater but there was something off about the first soup. The second soup mistake happened when the chef didn’t know how to introduce cold elements to hot ones and the result was lumpy and unpleasant. He was a substitute oyster pan roast chef at the Oyster Bar and didn’t know better.

    I wrote about a restaurant on this blog without mentioning its name but I sent a copy of the post in which I pointed out the insulting and off-putting welcome we received to the manager. She immediately called and asked me why I didn’t call it out on the spot and I said “Because this was a dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I did not want to prolong the nasty part and spoil the evening.” She sent me a gift certificate for $100. We never used it–that was not the point of the post. [They went out of business the next year.]

    I think that there have always been people as you describe them but you are right: in some circles it has become perfectly fine to sling nasty tirades about enemies in the style of 8th graders because the person in the oval office does so almost daily and 40 percent of us are fans.

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