You all have heard of Feng Shui (note to self: look up spelling before posting this). It’s about making a place harmonious for human habitation, about the way energy moves through a place (not to me confused in any way with the definition of energy employed in Physics. Those two energies are completely unrelated). I don’t really know a whole lot about the Feng and/or Shui, except that there are some parts that sound an awful lot like common sense.
In any case, a Czech pub has it’s own rules of Feng Shui, not based so much on wind and water but on tradition and history. There are people who have settled in at the same table in the same pub every day for the last fifty years. The Czechs have a sense of nationalism, but it pales next to their tableism. Had the communists started moving people to different tables within each pub, the revolution would have come much sooner.
Of course, occasionally you get the tourist who just doesn’t know better, who, having no appreciation of tradition, comes in and sits at a table that everyone else knows is already reserved. Such an act throws the entire bar out of balance, as many of the regulars simply cannot imagine sitting somewhere else in the bar. This is magnified when there is a group of tables and the visiting savage breaks the connectivity. Still, those things happen, and while the tourist won’t be welcomed with open arms, the Czechs are a roll-with-the-punches sort of folk, and generally interlopers don’t stay long.
But then you have the guy who maybe should know better — the guy you’ve seen a couple of times before, who doesn’t just grab a beer and a snack before leaving again, but opens up a frickin’ laptop of all things, and settles in to stay a while. That’s what they had to deal with at the Pink Gambrinus Pub tonight. I knew the table next to mine was a regular’s table, but I thought I was all right. It was when I ordered a snack and a minute later heard my order repeated at the table behind me, along with a reference to oxen, that I realized I was cramping the regulars’ style.
The service there is about as friendly and attentive as any you’ll find in these parts, so there was never any pressure on me to leave — far from it, in fact, as my first attempt to say I was finished resulted in another beer. (I have a bad habit of starting with “Ahh…” as I compose my Czech, which is the start of ‘Ano’, which means ‘yes’. That my “Ne” (no) sounds more like “Nay” doesn’t help.) Anyway, I stayed longer than I intended to. By the time I packed up and left, the regulars had dispersed into the rain.
It’s a nice place, and I’m sure I can be forgiven for that one mistake, but next time I go back, I’ll find another place to sit.