The Health Department came for their 30-days-after-opening inspection yesterday. The gentleman who conducts these visits is a true gentleman, supportive, honest, forthcoming with answers to questions and with information newbies might not even know they need to ask for.
During the course of the visit, he told our chef Kelley there had been “a complaint” that our facility did not have the capacity to undertake all it was doing.
Huh – you’d think we’d have noticed if we were incompetent. Yet even as my dander began to rise, a customer eating in the cafe smiled and said, “Being translated, someone’s pissed off that this place has been such a success from the word go.” Everyone laughed.
And that was that. The health department gentleman investigated and found groundless the “you’re not smart enough to do what you’re doing” complaint, and business went on as usual.
But it really got to Kelley: “Why would someone want to mess with someone else’s livelihood without rhyme or reason? Why would they complain about ‘capacity,’ or are they just being mean? Don’t they understand the consequences for others?”
That’s a good question, and I’m not asking it specifically about us, but about that human proclivity overall to interfere with each other in a negative way–often involving lawyers and state agencies, but also gossip, fists, and sometimes churches. Do people take such negative approaches because they see a need to “protect” others? Because they feel a sense of power they want to exert, or because they feel powerless and want to get to feel powerful? Or just pure flying sparks of human meanness and not enough impulse control?
No one will ever know. I’m reminded of the episode of the old TV sitcom Murphy Brown, some 20 years ago, when she was invited as a guest onto a children’s television program “Mulberry Lane” (yes, it was a send-up of Sesame Street). Her visit went horribly wrong, resulting in the puppets singing a song about mean people, and how you should just get on with your lives and leave them to their sadness.
I sang it for Kelley: Sometimes people can be mean, ’cause they’re jealous or mad or excited. And then we went back to work, living our lives, running the cafe and bookstore, being happy people with successful businesses upstairs and down.
♪ Sometimes people can be mean ♪ Just close your ears and walk away ♪