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Bend, Oregon

Barred from a Bend, Oregon pub — presumably for arguing with a friend

The text of a letter I sent (U.S.P.S) to Brother Jon's Public House on Galveston Avenue.

To the owners and management:

Interested to know how management would explain barring me, I visited Brother Jon's a few days later....

A good friend and I visited Brother Jon's in the late afternoon of Saturday the 1st of June [2013.]

After we'd each had a pint and a burger, and as I was leaving, a woman stopped me, identified herself as manager, and told me to never return. I don't know why.

We'd been looking for a place to sit outside, and had gone directly to the patio. At the southwest corner table there were only two people, two young women who were sitting adjacent to the wall. I asked them if we could sit, and they said yes. Kevin sat, while I went inside to inform wait-staff.

A woman there asked me if it was okay with the ladies at the table, and I said yes.

When the hostess came with menus, she asked, over the top of us, if it was okay with the original occupants that we sat there. (They said yes.)

This irritated me. I felt it was unnecessary and insulting to Kevin and myself - and, really, demeaning to the women, treating them as if they were unable to speak to us directly (but presumably willing to have somebody remove us if it was their whim to do so.) I felt it was an expression of the [American] tendency to act as if women are victims who must be protected against imaginary dangers. It might have also only been a matter of policy, and an effort to retain house control over seating. It doesn't matter. This is only context. I mentioned it to my friend because it seemed conspicuous to me at the time.

Kevin disagreed with my interpretation. We talked about it. We might have been over-exuberant, but there was no threat in the air. Kevin and I have been friends for 35 years. The ladies at our table were clearly not worried about us. One of them added her opinion: she works in a restaurant, and she could understand why the hostess would ask them if our presence was okay. Her disagreement was respectful and calm. I could see her point, and while I didn't find it convincing, I appreciated it. Later, when they went to the rear of the property (presumably to smoke,) at least one of them left her purse behind. They weren't worried about us.

There were a couple of fat suburban women at the table west of us, dining with their fat kids - surely a preferred demographic. They're the only customers I can imagine having complained. But they didn't even show any awareness of our presence, as far as I could see; never looked our way and certainly never gave any indication that we were disturbing them.

No member of staff gave any indication, either, at all, in any of the slightest possible ways that one might convey disapproval. There was nothing. Not a word; not a gesture, not a wary glance.

Our waitress was not friendly but wasn't un-friendly. She was competent. I never heard an unkind tone in her voice, nor saw a frown on her face. I have to wonder now why she didn't have anything to say - or whether she was the one who did this.

Anyhow, there was no negative communication, at all, from anybody, until I was leaving.

Kevin had gone inside to pay for our meal and drinks, and after I finished my pint I was right behind him, crossing around the seating area toward the front outdoor exit. But I wondered if Kevin had given a tip, so I stepped inside to ask. A woman told me no. I think the truth was somewhere between "no" and Kevin's idea of "tip," but in any case I returned to the table with a couple of bucks.

And then, after crossing around the seating area once again, as I was going down the ramp, a female voice called to me from right on my ass. She asked me my name and I told her. She told me that she was the manager, and that I was never to return.

She did not explain. When I asked, she asked me if I wanted her to go get the boys.

I've seen some chickenshit before, but this was a shock. It was a sucker-punch, really dirty and unscrupulous - and for what? It left me with no recourse, no ability to communicate (communicate what? I hadn't even been accused of anything.) I can't express my disgust, even now with time to do so. And at the time, all I could do was leave.

Well, if I hadn't had a drink - for example, if we had been touring local branches of McDonald's, instead of pubs - I probably would have accepted her offer to go get backup. They weren't going to do anything physical anyway, and maybe one of them would have been able to tell me something. But, under the circumstances, having had five pints around town (yes, we counted, later that evening,) I suppose I didn't want to do anything that might be perceived as confrontational, there in the presence of capricious authority. All I could do was to go away.

But, here we go; here's the point: I was barred from Brother Jon's in a manner devoid of respect (never mind professionalism.) I'd had no warning, and when it happened I had no idea why. I still don't know why. I'm pissed off, and I think that's reasonable.

Steve Edwards