One of my favorite places for breakfast in central Minneapolis is Ike’s Restaurant and Bar on Sixth Street. The bar looks exactly like the one in the 1940’s era “Godfather” movie. You know, the darkened bar in the scene during which the Luca Brasi character has one hand suddenly nailed to the bar by an ice pick, while his other wrist is grabbed and held, and he is garroted from behind by another gangster. Anyway it’s a neat bar.
A couple of weeks ago I went there to eat breakfast alone and just hang out before a board meeting in a building across the street. The booths were all taken or not yet cleared when I arrived, so when a stranger who was also waiting asked if we might share a booth I said okay.
My companion told me that he taught at a nearby university, and was at Ike’s because he had a meeting a couple blocks away in about an hour with the campaign committee of a metro Minneapolis member of the state legislature. Since the city of Minneapolis is crazy radical, I didn’t mention my politics, and he didn’t ask. But that didn’t keep him from telling me about his.
After about ten minutes he shut up and asked me what I did. In an attempt to change the subject, I mentioned that I thought we had something in common; and then told him that I had lectured at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management for 15 years. He asked what I taught, and I told him proudly, “The MBA program’s Strategy and Policy course, and the graduate-level Strategic Management course.
He was quiet for a moment, and then sniffed and said, “I have it a little tougher in my classes. I can’t just talk to students about how to get rich.” I thought that he was joking, but he didn’t smile.
I decided to not let that insult pass and asked, “What do you know about the courses I taught?” To which he answered “I just know about business.”
In response, I fired my big gun: “I don’t know what you know or don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that what you really do is try to teach your students something worthwhile enough to get them a job interview – and maybe even a chance of being hired – by those that I taught.”
We didn’t talk much after that, and he left without answering and even saying good bye. But after about fifteen minutes he came back into the restaurant and started arguing with the person I believe is the manager. He then came back to our table and asked if he had left his credit card there. I said no.
He told me loudly enough to be heard by others sitting nearby that he had left his VISA card with his credit card authorization he gave to the wait person, and knew that person had thrown it away.
I asked him, “Why would someone throw away your credit card?” Still talking loudly, he told me that his food order had been messed up, service had been slow, and the wait person had a crap attitude. Then said, “So, I wrote a criticism of the service on the restaurant’s copy of my credit card authorization, and did not leave a tip. But then a few minutes later when I realized I had left my credit card here, and came back to get it, that guy tells me no one had turned in my card, he hadn’t seen it, and that our wait person has left for the day.”
I told him speaking as loudly as had he, that I thought our service had been okay. And then trying to lighten things up a little, I laughed and said, “You’re probably right. Throwing your card away is probably what most would have done.” He replied, “That’s not funny,” and walked out.
Thinking about it, I know he’s right. It was not funny. But I have to admit that I savor the whole experience every time I think about it.