We're Not Psychic, You Cranky, Senile Old Cow! And Get A Life!

I’d hoped for something a bit more vitriol-inducing for my Premiere Pitting, but hey, you have to work with what you’ve got… and so, I give you:

The Cranky Old Lady At The Services Club

A good friend and I decided to attend a local services club (of which I am member and he was attending as my guest) for lunch today, as we often do before one or the other of us starts work (Not many places you can get a steak, chips, and a drink for $6.50 anymore!)

As this particular establishment, you have to select a table first (which has a number on it), and then you go to the register and place your order, after which the food is bought to your table.

The dining area was filling up (it was lunchtime), so my friend and I were very pleased when we found an unoccupied table by the window and placed our coats and bags on the chairs before going to the cashier to place our order (this is common practice). Certainly, there was no sign on the table indicating it was “Reserved”, or any reason for us to suspect the table was otherwise unavailable.

In the three minutes it took while were in the queue ordering our food, an old woman (early 60s, and the very definition of a Crazy Cat Woman) had taken a seat at our table and was starting to drink some kind of beverage.

“Excuse me” I said politely, “My colleague and I were sitting here- those are our bags and coats on the chairs.”

Now, given the way these boards can be, I should stress that this woman was in no way incapacitated as far as we could see- no crutches/zimmer frame, no wheelchair, nothing to indicate she was in any way incapacitated. If anything, she looked (physically) healthy and rather well fed- so it’s not like we were heartlessly kicking a frail, infirm old lady out of a seat or anything. Simply, we were there first, had indicated that the table was “Taken” by placing coats and jackets upon it, and thought perhaps this lady had missed that fact or thought the jackets belonged to friends of hers.

“NO YOU WEREN’T! THIS IS MY TABLE!” she says very, very loudly.

“Excuse me?” I ask.

“DIDN’T YOU SEE MY GLASS OF WATER ON THE TABLE???” she says in a unnecessarily belligerent tone, pointing at a half-full glass of water in which the ice has melted and for all intents and purposes would otherwise be considered “unattended” by bar and floor staff at most establishments.

“No, I can’t say that we did, but even so, it’s just a half-full glass of water that’s been left to stand for ages, and therefore doesn’t mean anything.”

This woman grabs one of the passing floor staff and starts haranguing her about how we’re “Stealing” her table and that the statement that a glass of water doesn’t mean anything was some sort of insult designed to upset her and so on.

The floor staff girl, seeing our bags and jackets on the chairs, realises what’s happened, but is still copping an earful from the Crazy Old Lady.

“Gentlemen, if you’ll just grab your coats and follow me, I’ll have you re-seated and make sure the kitchen knows where to send your order” the floor staff girl said, and managed to get us a table not far away. Of course, as we were leaving, Crazy Old Lady starts going on about how she “Always” sits in “Her” table and we should just magically, psychicly not only know this, but also which days she chooses to dine in the club, or even who she is (I’ve been a member there 6 years and I’ve never seen her before), and that trying to steal “her” table was obviously a calculated, personal affront.

As we were getting our things, Crazy Old Lady kept haranguing us about not knowing it was “her” table, so I said “Look, I’m sorry I’m not psychic. I’ve never seen you here before, and there was no ‘Reserved’ sign on the table. We’re moving anyway.”

Of course, that set her off about the glass of water again and how she “always” sat at that table, and she finally concluded with “How often do you come here, all of once a month?”.

I have to say I can be thoroughly unpleasant when I’m hungry, and that was the final straw.

“Yes, you cranky, senile old cow, that’s exactly how often I come here- because I have better things to do with my life than spend every day of my life sitting in a corner table of a services club and harassing people. What a truly sad and pathetic person you must be if that’s the best thing you can do to occupy your time.”

And with that, we left her, nearly apopleptic with rage, and were seated elsewhere. The food was good, as always, but my friend was thorougly pissed off by the incident- especially since it’s not the first time we’ve had elderly club members insisting that we’re taking “Their” table- and so after he started work, I went back to the club and asked to speak to the General Manager, and explained the incident to him, and that as a member I didn’t think it was especially appropriate behaviour on her part, and how it was making my friend and I feel unwelcome in the club- of which I had been a member for the past 6 years.

He apologised profusely and described the Crazy Old Lady to a T, asking if that was her- and when I said it was, he sighed and explained that she ate there every. single. day. and they’d had huge amounts of trouble with her doing that to other people as well, and he was going to have to have a word to her about pulling her head in, so to speak (He jokingly asked if I’d like him to throttle her while he was at it).
He was also concerned that some of the other elderly members were throwing us off “their” tables, and said “I guess it’s a bit like their perch at the bar”, but he sympathised, said it wasn’t acceptable, and he’d have a word to the staff and put something in the next mail-out reminding people that unless specifically reserved, the tables were on a “first in, best dressed” basis.

I did, however, take the chance to congratulate the staff- including the quick-thinking floor staff girl, and the bar girl who was all smiles although she was clearly covering for someone who’d phoned in sick and was also run off her feet- so hopefully some good will come of the situation.

So, in conclusion: Fuck You, You Cranky, Senile, Argumentative Old Cow!

You know what? That make me feel much better! :smiley:

What is a services club?

I don’t think there’s a US equivalent- the closest I can think of is like a private bar/bistro/poker machine venue all in one. Many of them are very large indeed.

The name originally comes from the clubs established by and for WWI and WWII returned servicemen, but nowadays anyone can join and the name “Services Club” can also refer to a Surf Life Saving Club, some of the larger sports clubs, and private member’s clubs with food, a bar, and usually some poker machines.

The closest I could find on Wikipedia is this article on the Returned Services League, but it only has a couple of sentences on the Services Club side of things…

Dude, you stole Eartha Kitt’s table? Not cool!

How’d you know it was Eartha Kitt and not Julie Newmar?
You some kinda psychic?

CMC fnord!

If the crazy cat lady had been a little younger, say the age of Michelle Pfeiffer or Halle Berry, I would have offered to share the table.

…and resume your conversation “when we found him the crows had completley plucked out his eyes. Funny how the crows always leave the maggots alone, though. You’d think they’d see that as a garnish.”

Living and aging through life is like climbing a ladder through a warped dimension…where the climber can see clearly up and down, while the ladder actually folds back upon itself many, many times. That day, both of your two points on the ladder came close enough for you two to see each other. She seemed to be a crazy old woman to you; you seemed to her to be an illmannered fresh youngster.

Look, we all get old (even you). Sometimes its a kindness to let people keep their illusions of youth, vigor, and control. You lost what…a table? A rented space that was someone elses before you came in and will be someone elses again within 15 minutes of your leaving the club? Its a big bright sunny day out there and their are bigger fish to fry. Be thankful she didn’t squirt you with her hose for walking on her lawn.

Ah, kinda like the VFW. Except, as far as I know, the VFWs aren’t open to the public. Or maybe something like an old-school lodge. (This young whippersnapper thinks of such things as being relics of the 50s.)

Nitpick: Some VFW/American Legion clubs have limited services available. You may not join if you’re not a vet, but you can eat there and they’ll rent the hall for weddings and such.


It’s hard for me to praise someone who unloads with both barrels on an old woman at a restaurant but I’ve some similar experiences at Shoney’s. I’ve found that if you play your cards right when this happens you can get a bit knocked off the check or a coupon for another meal. Elderly folks can really hassle you and there’s not a damn thing you can do sometimes. Because they’re old. Feh.


Sorry, but unless the person is actually mentally disturbed or senile, simple aging is not an excuse to act like a total fucking asshole to everyone with whom they come in contact. My mother is in her mid-60s, and she would never dream of acting like that; she doesn’t think the rest of the world should tiptoe around her just because she’s lived a bit longer than other people.

Assholes are assholes, whether they’re 20 or 80 years old, and sometimes telling them they’re assholes is completely appropriate.

When she pointed out her glass of water, you should have acknowledged it and moved to another table. It was her table, it seems.

If I’d been looking for an empty table at a seat-yourself restaurant, and I saw a half-empty glass of water on one of the tables, my automatic assumption would be that that was left over from a previous customer and that the table hadn’t been bussed properly, not that it was someone holding their place. People hold their place with a full glass of ice water or soda, or a cup of fresh coffee. They don’t hold their place with “dirty dishes”.

I know people who are like that about their church pews. “But I always sit here!” they’ll fuss at you. Like you’re supposed to know that…

Sorry, I left out…Is this what it sounds like? That if there’s a dispute over a table, it goes to whoever is better dressed? Why didn’t you ask Management to come arbitrate between you and the Crazy Old Cat Lady?

Or was it that you were less sartorially splendid than usual and you didn’t wanna risk it? :smiley:

No, “first in, best dressed” is a colloquialism frequently used in Australia.

It’s means exactly the same as “first come, first served.”

But he did acknowledge it. He pointed out that it was by itself, half full with no ice in it, appearing deserted.

I say good for you. Just because somebody is older doesn’t mean they automatically get a free pass and some times you just have to respond to rude behavior with rude behavior and polite society be damned.

Of course, you could have just shrugged and told your friend “let’s jut let her have the table. She’s gonna die soon anyway.” Then given her an evil grin and walked away.

From the description of the place, it sounds like the US equivelent of a country club, but without the pool and the golfing. And possibly the country.

Praise goes to the staff there for resolving the situation, but damn them as well for having one majorly fucked up system. In order to get food you have to tag your table first? What if you have no jacket or packages or old water to leave there? It seems like a situation where conflicts will not only occur, but breed like rabbits.

They really need a better system.

If you weren’t on the other side of the planet from me…

I swear, I work with this…this…meatbag. Try having someone like that on your case five days a week! (Or less, depending upon how good you’ve gotten at flying below her radar.)

The cranky, senile, old cow, I mean, not Martini!

Not quite, at least not if you mean by “country club” the rather genteel, upper-middle class establishment that the term usually brings to mind in America.

Services Clubs (formerly Returned Serviceman’s League, or RSL Clubs) have a distinctly working- and lower-middle-class connotation in Australia, partly because of their association with war veterans (not a particularly wealthy demographic) and partly just because they’re the type of club that people without much money tend to patronize.

Admittedly, i haven’t been to a Services Club for a few years now, but they have a reputation for having cheap alcohol*, cheap but pretty good food, entertainment that is often (but not always) fairly lowbrow, and plenty of slot machines (or “pokies,” as they’re colloquially known in Australia).

Like other registered clubs, they are (i believe) non-profit organizations, which is one of the reasons the booze and food are cheap. Much of the income comes from the pokies. They sometimes perform functions similar to Rotary or Lions clubs, raising money for charity and sponsoring local sporting teams or events.

Officially, to enter one of these clubs you usually have to be a member, or be signed in by a member. But membership is not exclusive or costly, generally involving filling out a form and paying annual dues which, when i was last in Australia, were on the order of about $20-30 a year. And if you’re in from out of town, you can usually just show ID and sign in as a visitor.

  • The booze really is cheap, usually considerably cheaper even than pubs, and orders of magnitude cheaper than nightclubs and other fancy establishments. Often, when my friends and i went out on Friday or Saturday nights, we would stop at the local RSL for a few cheap drinks to get us going, before moving on to the more expensive places.