Last night, as we waited outside for the table ahead of us to finish dessert and pay, the hostess walked out with two glasses of champagne. “I’m sorry we’re running behind,” she said. Elizabeth and I clinked glasses.
Back in the kitchen, we heard the hostess complaining to the chef about a woman who’d been sitting at a table by herself for three hours. “I don’t know what she’s doing!”
The chef was tempted to walk out and tell her to leave, but he didn’t want to risk another negative review. A month earlier, after reopening for patio dining, somebody had posted to Yelp: “Great pizza, nice staff, odd decor.” 1 star.
Hearing their sighs and shrugs reminded me of a story I once heard from my grandfather.
Grandad had joined an International Harvester dealership in Norfolk after the war. He’d worked there for several years before offering to buy the business from its nearing-retirement owner, Mr. Bell.
Mr. Bell agreed, so long as Grandad partnered with his nephew Lewis Gibson. No problem.
Grandad went to get a loan. “What’s the name of your business?” the loan officer asked. Hmm, he hadn’t thought about it. “G&S Equipment,” he said.
It was a Monday morning when Grandad and Lewis and Mr. Bell met at the dealership to finalize the transfer. Mr. Bell, after signing his final dotted line, stood up, grabbed his coat, and headed toward the door.
Grandad was surprised. “Wait! Aren’t you going to stick around for a couple weeks? Have a transition period?”
Mr. Bell turned around. He paused.
“All you need to know, is the public is a bitch.”
And then he walked out.
On January 22, 1970, a Pan Am Boeing 747 touched down at Heathrow for the first time.1 It was the 747’s first commercial flight. At the time,