Friday 29 December 2017

An Encouraging Tale Of Christmas Disobedience

Like most, I've been overrun with Christmas stuff recently - including a rather fabulous road trip to a café with a sea in its garden - but have an observational tale to tell which I found very interesting.

This year we Puddlecotes booked a Christmas dinner at the local pub. I know from speaking to a previous Manageress (a vaper) that the chain to which it belongs has stupidly installed a vaping ban but - never having come across one yet that can't be bypassed - I had brought a simple e-cig for the duration.

I was far from alone. Once we got to the venue at around 1pm, the place was packed and I counted at least five people vaping unobtrusive devices, seemingly without a care in the world. To say that it piqued my curiosity would be an understatement. I don't often visit there so watched with a keen interest. Had they changed their policy? Did the new Manageress just turn a blind eye?

Once seated at our table, we had a clear view of the whole pub and I watched as a group of 30-something lads stood at the bar laughing and joking, with one of them considerately vaping. No-one was concerned, nor did I see any perturbed looks from anyone else in the bar around any of the others I saw doing the same.

The new Manageress was helping with waiting tables for a steady procession of Christmas guests paying £40 per head (not including drinks) and I felt pretty sure she'd seen me using my Vype at least once, but nothing was said. I went to the bar to order some drinks and my silent query was answered by the barmaid as she poured a pint and said pointedly to someone behind me (one of the group of lads) that "you can't use that in here!". He swiftly apologised, but once she went to the fridge to get the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I'd ordered, promptly carried on regardless.

It struck me then that the chain pub's policy is laughably unenforceable and was being widely ignored. This doesn't come as a surprise because 'stealthing' is always very easy but it was encouraging to see so many not showing any respect to a daft policy whatsoever, and absolutely no-one else caring that it was being flouted.

More intriguingly, however, a little later a new group of eight came in to take up their Christmas table. The mousey housewife who appeared to be the one who had booked it walked in with her handbag in one hand and a basic Ego type e-cig in the other, plainly on view. The Manageress came to make sure they were seated properly and to point out where the free tea and coffee was and I saw her look directly at the e-cig in wifey's hand. I was expecting her to say something about it, but there was just a brief pause - perhaps while she totted up the £320+ that this group was going to be putting into the pub's coffers - and she just smiled, had a laugh and a joke and was off without saying a word about it. The lady in question vaped openly throughout her meal and wasn't approached about it.

It just made me wonder at the wisdom of such vaping bans, I mean, what's the point? They are so incredibly easy to ignore, and it was clear that apart from a futile plea from one barmaid, the management of that pub were battling against something which is not only unstoppable, but also counter-productive to their main role of bringing in business for the brewery. Why would the Manageress risk pissing off someone providing nearly £400 of business with a pointless policy thought up by some lazy suit at HQ, and why would any employee want to throw out a group of lads spending freely over the bar when no-one gives a flying fuck about their unobtrusive friend vaping?

At Christmas, it was pretty to watch a pub policy being shown to be so ignorantly crafted and so pathetically simple to ignore. As the numbers of e-cig users increase, and the evidence of their safety continues to pile up, only the most foolish in the pub trade would continue to fight an unwinnable war against vapers. Let's hope that in 2018 we see more pubs realising that it's pretty pointless, and either dropping their policies altogether or altering them to allow "considerate vaping" which is far more realistic.

And let's also hope that any who refuse to do either lose income and go bust, as they richly deserve. 

No comments: