Have you ever created a public disturbance? I have…twice. I’m not talking about some loud, crazy or even drunken event where I got arrested or anything like that. These “disturbances” were merely a mild, three-minute or so musical interruption in other people’s lives.
The first time it happened was when I was in 4th grade. We were on a school trip in Toledo, Ohio somewhere.
A few months previous to this trip, our entire class had performed Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler for our school recital. So on this trip, we’d gone to some restaurant–I think it was The Cracker Barrel–for dinner. The song came on over the loudspeaker and me being the kind of music lover I am, began to sing along with a friend sitting with me. The next table joined in, then the next, and by the end of the verse, I had the entire 4th grade class singing like it was a second recital. Afterward, the entire restaurant clapped loudly in appreciation for our providing them with a little dinner entertainment. I had a big smile on my face and I’ll always keep that fond memory of my childhood.
Unfortunately, the next time it happened, I wasn’t so lucky. I was a junior in high school and a bunch of us had just finished with the opening night of our school musical, Bye Bye Birdie. We’d gone to the local ice cream parlor to celebrate a great performance. Me still having the energy of our performance, I began to sing my part (I was in the orchestra pit) along with a friend who had one of the vocal parts. Again, I got the entire place going, each of us singing our selected part. We made it through most of the song when the owner suddenly stopped us and threatened that if we kept going, he’d kick us all out and we’d never be welcome there again. With a surprised look on my face, I looked around the establishment and realized, there were about 20 of us from the performance and only about 3 or 4 other customers, who, by the way, were smiling and enjoying our impromptu performance.
What really shocked me is the owner of the ice cream parlor was willing to alienate a good part of his customer base because he was annoyed at our singing and having a good time. He was willing to lose multiple, repeat business FOR LIFE from 20 kids and probably two other families just because we were making a little bit of noise. I just can’t help thinking that if he had let us go for just the few minutes we were feeling enthusiastic, like the restaurant did when my 4th grade class did The Gambler, we would have had a much better experience with his establishment. I mean, it really sucks because it wasn’t like we caused a riot or anything! We were just having a good time and sharing those good feelings with everyone around us. From then on, though he didn’t lose my business, every time I got ice cream there, I always thought of the ice cream parlor owner as “that mean guy who doesn’t like kids.” I guess he didn’t know when to fold ‘em!