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I wanted to know why I'd been barred

Chickenshit authority at a Bend Oregon "pub"

Bend, Oregon, 2013 —

On the 5th of June, four days after I'd gotten barred from Brother Jon's Public House on Galveston Avenue, I returned to see if I could speak with the woman who had followed me down the back rampway as I was leaving, introduced herself as manager, and told me to never return.

She hadn't said why, but was adamant enough (threatening to go get the boys in the kitchen) and I was moderately intoxicated, so I'd walked away.

And I'd sent a note to the owners via conventional mail, the previous day.

But I wanted her version.

I went to the Alehouse, an expansion of the Brother Jon's brand on the corner of Greenwood and Bond, to ask there what I might be able to do. The young woman there said she'd call and talk to management at the Public House if I wanted her to, but suggested that they'd probably be reasonable if I went over there to talk.

What I encountered was more polite than reasonable.

I spoke with Lori, the general manager. She told me that she didn't really feel that I needed to speak with the woman who had barred me, the floor-manager from that Saturday evenening. Lori also told me, politely, that she was sorry but afraid that the matter was not negotiable.

But I wasn't trying to negotiate. I just wanted the version of the story as told by the woman who had barred me. Did I not remember? I remember. I wrote about my account of events, mailed it to the owners, and put it on the internet [where it will be for years.] I just wanted to know her version of what happened.

While not allowing me to speak with the person who had decided to bar me, Lori had the next-best option, the hand-written record in a book that's kept as a matter of compliance with the liquor-control commission. The woman in question had of course written her account there.

Lori read to me from this work of putative non-fiction — and (oddly) the story it told was almost exactly the same as my own.

The implication was astounding, really: I had been barred — not ejected, but barred — on a whim. Of all the shitty tattletale, juvenile, rat-fink behavior that I'd observed since my return to the States, this was the finest example yet.

There was one tiny discrepancy of perspective between the story as written by [let's call her Trixie] — and also one small detail that my friend Kevin and I could not have observed.

Trixie wrote that I had gone inside upon arrival and told her where we were sitting. That was true. Her account also said that at that point I'd dismissed the importance of being seated, which is in accordance with house policy. I don't remember doing this, even implicitly, and I didn't spend enough time inside for any but the simplest conversation.

If I had spent any more than the briefest moment indoors, it would have been a good opportunity for a member of staff to correct my presumptuousness; to suggest that we wait — and that definitely didn't happen. (Maybe they wish it could have happened because somebody was waiting for that space, but nobody was — so all they could do was be pissed off about our lack of respect for their authority buzz. I don't know.)

The one small detail that Kevin and I could not have observed (and it's an important one) was that the floor manager's account said that she and the waitress had talked about speaking with us — in other words, she herself admits that they did not actually do it. They didn't say anything to us — and even their official version of the story admits this. Admits it? I don't think they even have any idea how fucked-up that is.

I pressed my one point with Lori: You talk to people. I repeated it, and repeated it again.

Lori said "she did."

But that's chickenshit. Nobody said anything to myself nor to Kevin. Nobody frowned at us, even. Then the floor manager came at me from behind as I was leaving (when Kevin had gone — and we were separated) and told me to never come back.