Monday, March 1, 2010
Last week, some new friends of ours invited Miss B and me to a “Taste of” event being hosted by a neighboring city. We enthusiastically accepted; it was early enough in the evening so that Miss B would enjoy it, and I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to meet some of the local food types and find out what was happening around here. Visions of tasty samples and blog posts danced in my head.
We made a plan, and arrived at the venue just after the doors opened on Saturday evening. There was already a small line of people waiting to get in, which whetted my anticipation even more. It looked to be a popular event, the perfect way for a newcomer like me to get some real knowledge about the local scene, food and otherwise.
As we stood in line, chatting about nothing much, the woman in front turned to us. At first I thought she knew our friends, but then she held her ticket out to us.
(We hadn’t bought tickets in advance, as they were available at the door.)
“I don’t know if you noticed the fine print on the tickets,” she said, indicating with a fingernail the very small print at the bottom of the ticket that read “No children at this event.”
I was kind of stunned. It had never occurred to me that an event which started at 5:30pm on a Saturday, advertised to revolve around food and being held in an empty store space in a mall, would be an adults-only event. I’d been to several of these events in other cities, and they were always teeming with young families, enjoying the food and chatting to the stallholders.
My friends couldn’t believe it either, so we stayed in line until we got up to the front, where the people at the ticket table confirmed, curtly, with no explanation or apology, that it was indeed a no-children-allowed event.
I (quite irrationally, I realize) felt rejected and responsible, as if Miss B and I had done something to warrant being turned away and depriving us all access to this event. My host, meanwhile, was furious. Working, as he does, with DP, as well as several hundred other parents of young families, for an institution which is one of the main economic engines driving this small city, he made it quite clear that he considered this a snub and bad form on the part of the organizers. Then we left and they took us to their favorite local Mexican restaurant instead, where we had a great meal and a nice evening out (surrounded on all sides by young families).
So, the evening turned out well in the end. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Was I being a thoughtless entitled parent, expecting to bring my child anywhere and everywhere I might wish to go? Or were the event organizers shooting themselves in the foot by excluding (and maybe alienating) such a huge segment of potential customers?
(* Miss B enjoying a taste of something freely available to all ages.)