Can I Get a Side of Logic with That Rule?

by | Mar 28, 2024

For two years, post Peace Corps and then working at the most toxic work environment of my life it was time for me to chillax and do something mildly mindless. I bartended at LaPosada in Santa Fe. The law in New Mexico: card everyone. If you’re 100 years old and want a shot of tequila, cool. I need to see your ID. 

I spent last weekend, in Savannah, GA, with my parents. Have your ID on your person is not the law there. How do I know? I went to dinner solo on Thursday, had a glass of wine, no check of ID. Friday, dinner with my parents, drinks ordered by all, no ID Check. 

Imagine our surprise (one word for it) when we sat down to dinner Saturday evening, my Dad ordered a bottle of wine, and the waiter said, “I’m going to need to see everyone’s IDs.” 

Cue three sets of double takes. What?

I need to see everyone’s IDs. 

Now, my Mom had left her wallet at the hotel. BECAUSE SHE IS 78 YEARS OLD. She looks GREAT for 78, do not get me wrong, but she’s clearly of age. 

My Dad wasn’t having it. 😬I get tense when he gets tense. His tone was you gotta be kidding me, combined with a little don’t make me take you down when he said to the waiter, “SHE’S 78.” 

I gave the waiter a, “Come on, braugh…” and he said he’d go check with his manager. 

“Unfortunately,” he started, and I thought here we go, “my manager said she needs her ID.”

Now, because I’m always looking for a solution and/or hate tension, I had offered to “run” back to the hotel, a ten-minute walk away, to get the ID. 

My Dad was all for stomping out of the restaurant, but a moment of pragmatism swooped in. It was Saturday night in Savannah, on spring break. Anywhere we went would be packed out, and I was already hangry. So I said stay put, I’ll be right back. 

I ran. I mean, I don’t run, but I ran back to the hotel to get Pat’s wallet. 

Upon further reflection, I should NOT have run. I should have walked over to the manager and said something along the lines of, “Yo. I understand that you are in a busy spot in town. I understand that you are trying to CYA and make sure you’re good with the drinking situation. I also understand this is a restaurant-specific policy since we’ve had drinks around town, and no one else has asked for our IDs. Can you look at my Mom and understand that there is no way she is not at least double 21? Can you look at my Dad’s ID and see he’s 79? Can you look at my ID and see that I am of an age that is well over 21? 😉Can you see that she will not be slipping glasses of sauvignon blanc to either of us OF AGE people at the table? Can you put your policy aside, and let JUST A LITTLE BIT OF LOGIC CREEP INTO YOUR BRAIN, and bring over the bottle of wine?” 

I might have even offered her some free consulting services and delivered the bonus pro-tip that they should, I don’t know, put all over their website and reservation system that all IDs will be checked to ward off this nonsense. I’m helpful like that. 

I get it. Businesses need policies. There are rules. 

There is also logic. Situational awareness. Critical thinking. The ability to make acceptions to the rule when the rule might not apply in the situation

When you don’t bring common sense into the equation, when you read the rules and are rigid about their enforcement, when your policy trumps pragmatism, it’s time to get a grip. Think about who the policy is for and who it’s affecting. It’s time to embrace the grey instead of only thinking in black and white. 

I imagine the waiter felt like a complete chump for having to ask the manager if the old lady (sorry, Mom) really needed her ID. I broke my rule and ran! My parents’ blood pressure spiked over the stupidity of it all. 

Sometimes, things don’t have to be so hard. 

We don’t have to make them so hard. 

When you think about your work and life, do you have policies in place that make no sense?

Do you have policies that were created because this one person, this one time, did this one thing, and now there’s a rule that impacts everyone…in an annoying way?

What impact do these policies have on your people? Customers and team alike. 

What impact do these policies have on your business and bottom line?

The answer if you’re the The Ordinary Pub in Savannah is not a good one. Consider yourself now in the know:  bring your ID, or better yet, spare yourself entirely. The food was as crappy as the manager’s response. Not to mention, halfway through choking down my burger, I realized in the kerfuffle the waiter had never checked my ID. 

So much for the rules. 


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