Thursday, September 20, 2018

Another one of my little quirks...

For many reasons I could never become a doctor and one (although probably not the first) is that it drives me crazy to keep people waiting. Most doctors I go to have two or three little examining rooms and they flit from one to the other. Just knowing there are two other people sitting in rooms waiting while I explain for the ninth time to some idiot patient why chewing tobacco is not good for them would keep me in a constant state of anxiety. And that’s not even worrying about all the patients in the waiting room.

There is a very famous (and excellent) restaurant in LA called the Apple Pan. Great burgers, and believe it or not, pies. It’s also one of the few remaining unique dining experiences in Los Angeles. They don’t have seventeen locations. They have one. Now that Cassell’s is essentially gone (a new version has opened but pales in comparison to its old self), the Apple Pan may have the best burger in town. (I know this will spark a lot of comments arguing over this fact. I welcome this debate.) I’d eat there a lot. But…

You walk in and there’s this big horseshoe counter. Everyone sits at the counter. And it’s very popular so it’s always crowded. As a result, there are always people standing behind you, hovering, waiting to take your seat. I find this incredibly unnerving. So when I go to the Apple Pan, unless it’s a real off-time, I find myself wolfing down my food as fast as I can.  (New Yorkers having lunch in Manhattan know of what I speak.)   And yet, I look around and there are others at the counter who have finished their lunch and their drink and are just sitting there reading a book completely oblivious to the six angry people breathing down their necks. Hope they never need the Heimlich Maneuver.

Other examples: being in a public bathroom while someone is jiggling the door. I’m sure there are folks who sit on the john, check their email, and maybe even bring a magazine. I want to kill those folks.

In a car. I’m about to get out of a parking space. There is a car waiting for the space. There are seven cars stopped behind him. I don’t leisurely get in the car, touch up my make up, take a few sips from my Starbucks, scroll through my playlists until I find one I want to listen to, readjust the side mirrors, program my GPS, turn on the engine, put on the brake lights and then for no reason whatsoever just pause for another three minutes. If another car is waiting I get in and GO.

There are many other examples (feel free to add yours) but you get the idea. The point is this drives me batty, probably battier than it should.

Is it just me?

And sorry if I offend, but I wish it were EVERYBODY.


JED said...

This reminds me of a story a friend told me. Around Christmas, when the parking lots are always full, he was walking out to his car loaded with packages when a car drives by. The guy in the car pantomimes to him asking if my friend is leaving. My friend motions, "Yes," and the car followed him. The problem was, my friend forgot where he had parked in the huge lot. So, the car had to follow him around until he remembered where his car was and he could pull out so the following car could take his space.

Janet Ybarra said...

Sorry, Ken, I'm the mirror opposite. I don't dawdle, but I don't want to be rushed, either.

If I'm in a restroom, I hate someone outside endlessly fiddling with the knob as if that will get me to go faster.

Just imagine me as Father Mulcahy in "None Like It Hot," bath brush in hand saying, "It's my turn for a bath and I'm taking it."

E. Yarber said...

Obliviousness to others seems to be a default feature in a significant percentage of Westsiders.

There's the situation where someone parks on the street and opens their car door to incoming traffic. You'd expect the parkee to get in and out quickly. I once saw two women happily congratulating one another with a door wide open blocking half a lane. Vehicles were backed up for two blocks as drivers tried to merge left while that pair rattled on gleefully to one another with no sign of stopping.

The indoor version of such sport is played by shoppers who make a habit of parking their carts in a diagonal fashion blocking the entire aisle. They'll be damned if they'll let some stranger crowd them by walking past, leaving the rest of us to wind up backtracking and negotiating the maze as best we can. More than once I've decided that a jar of Bob's Big Boy Seafood Sauce simply isn't worth trying to breach such a barrier, and the economy suffers by that much.

Jim S said...

You're not wrong Ken. Places like the Apple Pan really depend on customer turn to keep the lights on. There is a local diner near where I live. Every now and then I like to buy a real, physical newspaper and sit down at the diner and read it with my meal. But I always say to the wait staff that they should let me know if they need my table or booth for new customers who have come in.

They appreciate the fact that I understand their needs, and I try to make sure I hit the diner during its non-peak hours.

Not all restaurants are Starbucks. People need to realize that.

But in the end, it's up to the restaurant to let customers know when it's time to go.

Second note, so you're saying the Apple Pan is so crowded no on goes there anymore?
Once again, Yogi Berra is a genius.

1955david said...

I concur

Covarr said...

Every time I'm at the grocery store and I see a small group of people surrounding two shopping carts, idly obliviously chatting as they block off the entrance to an aisle and the path around it, I feel just the tiniest smidgen of deeply intense rage, a tinge of overwhelming lividity.

D.D. said...

You are not alone. The situation I hate most is when I am waiting to make a right onto a busy street. I’m a cautious driver and don’t like to pull out until I am sure I have plenty of time. The three people lined up behind me are usually very patient, but I always feel as if I have to chance an accident rather than keep them waiting a few minutes.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the guy holding up 7 other cars to get your space is doing it because the parking lot is crowded or because you have a fantastic spot, because I can't count the number of times I've been in a parking lot that's 90% empty, with one car further down from me and all the spots past that vacant, and have seen a car slowly cruise past all those empty spaces and hover impatiently just as I walk up to my car with a cart visibly filled to the brim with groceries. No matter how quickly I load the groceries enter the car, it doesn't feel fast enough, and more than once I've been three quarters of the way done, just to have them mash on the gas and zoom off while shooting me a dirty look for keeping them waiting( and when they stay they usually leave me so little room to back out that I'm within inches of hitting them). In situations like that I feel like just pulling out a sandwich and a drink from my groceries and sitting down on my bumper and having lunch.

Terrence Moss said...

i hate when people go to sam's on sunset and order dozens of bagels without calling ahead and get upset when an indie establishment can't readily accommodate their hoity-toity brunch.

i hate people who sit on the aisle seat next to an empty window seat on a crowded bus -- forcing people to climb over them in order to sit down.

Ron Rettig said...

I first visited Apple Pan about 1949 when family lived in Cheviot Hills and I was 6. This was when the other side of Pico was dirt and Clyde Beatty Circus would have a parade with elephants, calliope, etc. down Pico and put up the big top tent and hold circus on south side of the boulevard. After I moved away as an adult I always stopped back to Apple Pan for a hickory burger.

Dhruv said...

Agree with you Ken. I too have been in similar situations, especially waiting for the doctor.

Sometimes we can protest, but then there are situations where we can't even express our anger.

I book the ticket 60 days in advance and bag the window seat in the train, then the parents let the kids loose, who will come pestering "Uncle, I want the window seat." If you say "No", then other passengers look at you like a villain. Better to silently give up the window.

Allowing kids to push the loaded shopping cart as if it's a plaything and admiring them. They of course play along with the cart and block the path. Then when we ask them to clear the way, parents give us a dirty look. Better to silently wait than say anything.

Mibbitmaker said...

Reading this makes me suddenly curious what the SEINFELD episode "The Parking Space" would've been like if written by Levine and Isaacs.

Bob Paris said...

Ken: I have a friend who will not eat at the Apple Pan because of the anxiety of having someone hanging over their shoulder waiting for their spot. I hadn't been there for about 30 years but went to a late movie with my daughter at the Landmark. Afterwards we went to the Apple Pan and while it was less busy we still "stopped lively" in order to make our space available for someone else. Agree wholeheartedly with how you rapidly vacate a parking space when someone is obviously waiting for it - my wife & I do the same thing.

WB3 said...

Friday question for you, Ken.
If you could take DVDs of three half hours of some classic sitcom (excluding eps written by you and your partner David) on a desert island for an extended period what would you (and the community here) take along? Also, what is the single funniest line/exchange you recall from a sitcom?

My three sitcom half hours:

Car 54: The Biggest Day of the Year (Bob Howard, Lou Solomon)
The Odd Couple: The Fat Farm (Albert Lewin)
Only Fools and Horses: Who’s A Pretty Boy? (John Sullivan)

Single line/exchange (tie, both from Get Smart):

Aboard the Orient Express (Robert C. Dennis, Earl Barret)

Agent 44 telling Max that he will have to pay $5 for a copy of a secret message:
Max: Five dollars!
Agent 44: Well that’s the going price. Or three for ten dollars.

A Spy for a Spy (Marmer and Burns)

Max and his nemesis Siegfried disarm during a late night meeting, Max attempting to negotiate the return of the kidnapped Chief of Control.

Max (indicating to S. his “suicide pill”) It’s raspberry this month. Wanna try it?
Siegfried: No thanks?
Max: Go ahead, it’s not habit forming.

There is the possibility that Buck Henry, the series’ story editor, worked with the writers on these lines. Of course there are so many brilliant Frasier lines it’s impossible to choose less than half a dozen.

Steve Bailey said...

Whenever I go to the local grocery store, I never cease to be amazed at customers park their carts smack-dab in the middle of the aisle so I can't get around them. I also have the same pet peeve as yours about people slowly exiting the parking lot.

Dan said...

The Triple XXX Diner in West Lafayette, IN has a similar setup. I've heard that after last call bar patrons crowd into the tiny shop and impatiently wait for a seat.

BTW, their food is quite good, including the Duane Pervis All-American Burger that includes peanut butter. Yummy!!

JeffR said...

Funny about the Doctor's office - My wife is a Nurse in an Emergency Dept - I love her stories about those patients who are waiting for a hangnail (in the ER) and complain when an ambulance pulls up, a trauma is brought in on life support and they get the emergency treatment from a full team of providers. This really happens - they look her in the eye and say, "but I was here first"! LOL
It's like Hawkeye said - this is the only place where the worst go first!

littlejohn said...

The people who go to stores like Costco, where you have to show your card to get in, and block the front door, as they search for their card. Seriously, did you just get teleported to the front of a Costco store ? Did you not just drive to the store to shop as one of their members ?

You can't fix stupid

Blair Ivey said...

The car thing. Yes.

Cowboy Surfer said...

People who ask questions at a fast food drive thru...come on people, get it together.

David said...

Ken, what do you think of many sports stars wanting to enter into TV business? Like J J Watt as per the CAA book.

Also you said you are looking forward to the new Mike Ovitz's book. It will be out by next week. Looking forward to your take.

Anonymous said...

Friday Question:

Sometimes the actress reveal the studios are cold. I just wonder how that makes it air. Does no one notice? Is it cleared by the actress? Standards and Practices? Willfully ignoring the slip?

Andy Rose said...

I'm fascinated by businesses that manage to somehow benefit from being inconvenient. There's an Atlanta restaurant called Holeman and Finch that made really good burgers, but arbitrarily limited themselves to selling 24 a day. After that, no more. People would line up trying to get an H&F burger before the cutoff. (Now they have a couple of tourist-friendly offshoots that sell them all day.) When I was in LA a few months ago, I went to Porto's in Burbank on the suggestion of some friends. They seemed almost proud of the fact that the wait was long and parking was limited.

In my hometown, there's a sandwich shop that keeps wildly inconsistent hours. If the place empties out after lunch, the owner may just lock up and leave without notice. It's sometimes closed for days at a time during the summer. Yet it's been in business for 40 years (and yes, I eat there whenever I'm back home). It's next door to an even older and more successful Dairy Queen that has a limited menu, window service only, and is only open from April to October. I don't know how some entrepreneurs manage to turn inconvenience into "charm," but it works for them.

Dhruv said...

Andy Rose,

Interesting question.

There are many such hotels, bakeries here. They limit themselves by the quantity or the working hours.

My take is:

They make good money within that time/quantity. Not huge profits maybe, but decent.

In a competing world, to stay unique and draw customers, this 'artificial scarcity' is created to stand out from the rest and make sure that the customers line-up.

People too love going to such places, isn't it? Some place different from the rest. Yes, taste too is a major factor.

YEKIMI said...

Local city trying to re-develop their downtown. A sort 50s style diner opens up and posts their hours. Twice I went down there twice and they were closed. Heard from other people they went there at all hours of the day; sometimes it was open and sometimes closed. Some days, never opened at all.Hours were inconsistent at best. One of the downtown merchant association people went to him and his response was "if no one is in here, I'm closing it up" and "I have other things to do" Refused to hire a manager or anybody to run it and getting anybody to work there wasn't worth it because why take a job when you get there to work and 1/2 hour later he tell you to go home because "business is slow"? He was closed in 6 months and had the gall to say that "the citizens of this town are assholes, they won't support a local business, they'd rather eat the slop they serve at McDonald's or Wendy's" Meanwhile, down the street is a Mexican restaurant run by real "legal" Mexican immigrants that had to extend their hours because business was so good and they actually have people waiting to get in. Their secret? They keep open the hours they have posted and sometimes open early if they see people waiting to get in and they bust their ass making sure their food is tasty as hell. Every once in a while if they're busy they may ask the one butt-head who is taking up a table for 6 just reading his newspaper if he'd mind vacating the premises so they can serve people that PAY for their dinner/lunch and not just sucking down one soda pop that they nurse for 45 minutes.

Unknown said...

Couple of things, sometimes people forget they are being "in the way", if you ask them to move out of the isle in a store, they will be happy. Or if they are taking up the whole escalator.(although, I was once going down a long escalator, 2 people were standing next to each other talking, she saw me walking down on the left, but stood her ground, would let me past). If they don't care, you ram their basket with yours, and move on.
As for restaurants or any random line forming spots (Costco help desk), why not setup a line? If it is so busy, pass out numbers. When a chair opens, call for number 15 instead of letting the person breathing down your neck. Waitress can ask you to leave if they are just reading a book during busy times (I was with a group sitting around a table just talking, and the restaurant manager nicely asked us to leave, so we did).
I guessing no one takes public transportation, nothing better than a train/bus letting people out, and someone just stops in the door way. Or the person who has to be first off at "their" stop, so they stand in the door way the whole trip and get in the way at the other stops. Extended elbows helps me

Steve B. said...

Just call in your to-go order to the Apple Pan. It's always ready when I get there, and still hot when I get home. And they give you a ton of ketchup packets.

K said...

I agree with you on everything but would add that the dilatory actions of people in parking situation is infuriating. Once I am in car I try to get moving ASAP.
On the other side of the coin when one is taking packages/graceries to car ( think Costco) having a car follow and sit and wait while you open car and load up.
In those cases after I finish loading I turn around and go get a hotdog. I know it is petty but ....

Dixon Steele said...

Lived in LA for 26 years. And thanks to William Goldman raving about Cassell's, I went. Twice.


Sorry to say I felt the same was about the Apple Pan the only time I went.

Pat Reeder said...

Agree with all of these, although my two biggest peeves are women who wait until their entire grocery order is rung up before opening their purses and starting to fish around for their wallets/checkbooks...and drivers who wait until the very last minute to merge out of a lane that's ending, even though they've passed "move over" warning signs for two miles. They force everyone else to slam on the brakes and let them in, creating a big bottleneck traffic jam, all so they can get just a few feet closer to their destination than you.

Only peripherally related, but I do most of my grocery shopping at Kroger, and when I use the restroom there (don't worry, it's never crowded), I do check my email. For some reason, I always get a message from Google helpfully advising me that this is a popular spot for photos. The men's room at Kroger? What the hell are people doing in there?!

MattP said...

Another great post Ken which I agree with wholeheartedly.

I visited Tokyo for the first time in 2016 and saw some shops/eateries were so popular there was a queue of people lined up out the front.

What surprised me was seeing an employee in a cute uniform holding up a little flag conveniently showing where the end of the line was to make it super easy to join the queue! (No doubt to minimise the risk of the queue blocking the sidewalk, too)

I mean, if you're going to have people wait to buy from you, you may as well make it convenient!

Mitch said...

My folks ate there the day it opened.Johnny Rockets tried to copy the menu, but there's only one Apple Pan.

DBenson said...

Fast food advice: When you see more than two cars in the drive-thru lane, park and walk inside. You'll get your food and be on your way a lot quicker. I've sometimes suspected that my own drive-thru order was set aside to cool off while they were finishing the two dozen different happy meals for the SUV ahead of me.

DBenson said...

I live within a few miles of some malls; will often walk to one for exercise (air conditioning and a food court provide motivation). Towards the holidays, cars sometimes follow me as I make my way to the sidewalk. I'm sometimes tempted to intentionally amble around the parking area as if searching before hitting the sidewalk and revealing there never was a space to be had from me.

Stephanie said...

I'm the same way. This is probably ridiculous, but when I cross the street, I usually run so I don't keep cars waiting.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite dining places in the LA area was DuPar’s in Studio City, which on weekend mornings could be capacity by as early as 9am. I can’t tell you how many times while waiting for a space at the counter there some person (usually a middle age guy), long finished with his pancakes and coffee, would remain at the counter reading the LA Times (usually the Calendar or Sports sections) seemingly oblivious to the patrons wanting to have breakfast.

My LA pet peeve: people who take calls in the movie theater (yes, I witnessed this in Sherman Oaks). Unbelievably inconsiderate, ranking up there with people who kick the back of your theater seat.

Barry Traylor said...

I hate it when people say they will arrive at 7:00 pm and they show up at 7:30 pm. If I always show up on time and get nervous if I think I am going to be late.

mdv59 said...

The crowds are the reason I stopped eating at Apple Pan-- I hated the fact that they pitted waiting customers against each for a turn at the counter. You could have several people who arrived simultaneously waiting for a seat, but with no waiting list or host to sort it out, you're either forced to be an asshole and play musical chairs when a seat opens up, or you starve to death waiting for an uncontested seat. Getting a seat for a hamburger shouldn't require a D-Day reenactment. Sorry, no hamburger is that good.

Mark Patterson said...

I do my best not to waste other peoples' time. I don't mess around behind the wheel, and I am very conscious that I'm not the only car on the road. Ditto at restaurants.

The only instance Ken has mentioned that I'll respectfully disagree about is the toilet. And not because I feel as though I'm entitled to take my lunch-break there.

It's a personal quirk. If I'm trying to force things out (as it were) before they're quite ready, even if I'm in extreme personal distress, the process takes three times as long. If, however, I bring a book or a magazine with me, by the second paragraph, things proceed apace and I'm done more quickly. Trust me, I'm going as quickly as I can.

Sometimes you have to distract the internal organs.

Jeff Maxwell said...

Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Big Hole BBQ. Great ribs. BUT, you walk in the door and place your order at the counter. You’re given a number which you put on the table letting the server know where to bring your food. BUT, on a busy day, there are no tables available. SO, you and everybody else who just placed an order must wait until somebody finishes chawing on their ribs and pounce on that table at the first sign of vacancy. AND, there is no hierarchy. Whoever gets to the table first eats. It’s nuts.

Food’s great. Seating is like a bad musical chairs nightmare.

Lou H. said...

I take the bus to and from the supermarket, and it's important to time things so the milk and ice cream will only be outside for 10 minutes rather than an hour and ten minutes.

The big variable is the time spent waiting in the checkout line. So when choosing one, I do profiling. Couples are good; one will pack the bags while the other pays. I avoid lines where a middle-aged woman is clutching her pocketbook to her chest for dear life; this means she won't open it until everything has been scanned and bagged. Then she'll spend a few minutes looking for the purse and either counting out the exact change or, worse, writing a check, which requires a manager to be summoned from some back office to check ID.

msdemos said...


"Agree with all of these, although my two biggest peeves are women who wait until their entire grocery order is rung up before opening their purses and starting to fish around for their wallets/checkbooks...and drivers who wait until the very last minute to merge out of a lane that's ending, even though they've passed "move over" warning signs for two miles."

You got mine.....ESPECIALLY the waiting in the checkout line and NEVER getting ready to pay until the entire checkout process is completely done before starting to look for something to pay with.

The very EPITOME of NEVER thinking of others.....especially those waiting in line behind you.

Also, and this isn't necessarily an indictment of women, just an observation, but WHY is it that the people writing checks in the long lines at a food store are (almost) ALWAYS women ??

Just curious......but, again, it's (almost) ALWAYS women. Why is this? Seriously. I'm trying to recall the last time I may have been in a food store checkout line where the person in front of me paying with a check was a male, and I honestly cannot remember it.

Not a big deal, but just WHAT is it with FEMALES writing checks, but males (almost) NEVER doing so ??

Theories, anyone ??