I own a restaurant in Washington, DC. We’re situated near the Smithsonian museums, the FBI headquarters, and lots of other federal office buildings. As you might imagine, we’ve been a little slower than ideal lately.
Why is it slower than usual?
I told my team that neither their service nor their food was at fault for the slowdown. It’s not competition from other restaurants or food trucks. It can’t be the weather, nearby construction, or the homeless people who ask our customers for money at the front door. While any and all of those issues would be worth an in-depth, intellectual investigation, I told my team that none of those are important.
We’re only slower than normal because of pigeons.
Now I know what you’re thinking: pigeons can’t possibly affect my business that much. And they surely don’t affect me more than the weather or competition, right?
Trust me, I know business, and I know pigeons. It’s those disgusting pigeons, case closed.
Granted, there are almost no pigeons anywhere near my restaurant. But that’s precisely what makes them so dangerous. While you can’t see them, they’re bringing pigeon diseases, pigeon drugs, and cold french fries they find in the garbage. When you turn your back, they bring their savage, pecking ways to our civilized society.
You may think that every pigeon you’ve ever seen has just been minding its own business, toiling away in the park, trying to get enough scraps to survive and feed its family. But that’s because you can’t speak pigeon, and Lord knows the pigeons aren’t going to bother to learn English. Every coooo-cooooo-cooooo you hear is dripping with disgust for us, the very source of their current welfare.
I told my team there is only one way to protect against pigeons destroying our business: we have to build a giant pigeon cage around our restaurant, and we’ll make the pigeons pay for it. Like most of my ideas, it’s so simple, it’s practically stupid!
A pigeon cage around our restaurant will allow us to carefully control who gets into our protected zone. We’ll leave the back door and the sides open, of course – this isn’t a prison, after all. And we’ll skip focusing on other ways the pigeons could get in, like airports and overstaying legally obtained visas.
But anyone who wants to come in the front door of our business better be ready to show legitimate ID. We have to know they aren’t just a stack of fourteen pigeons in a trenchcoat, trying to sneak in to steal our apple cores and discarded hot sauce packets. Because once they’re here, they lay their anchor eggs and bring all of their filthy pigeon relatives here to join them.
And by the way, we obviously don’t have enough people to check all of those IDs, so it’s going to be two or three months’ wait. Don’t leave the area, though, you’ll lose your place in line. If coming to my restaurant is important enough to you, you’ll wait outside. You’re a pigeon, you’re used to living outside.
Did you know that last year, over 4,000 fake people who were actually violent pigeons stacked up in trenchcoats entered my restaurant? Okay, that’s actually the total number of incidents at all restaurants worldwide, but it’s still scary! Especially if you don’t understand scale!
I went to the pigeons down at the big oak tree, and yelled at them, “Pigeons! You’ve taken advantage of our kindness for far too long. You’re sending pigeon rapists, pigeon murderers, pigeon drugs…and some of you, I assume, are good pigeons. It’s only fair that you pay for the pigeon cage around my restaurant!”
I don’t speak pigeon, but a lot of people are saying that translates into, “even though you have disparaged our people at every turn, we’ll gladly pay for the vanity project you’ve promised your team!” Believe me, okay?
Now, I know I said the pigeons will pay for this giant pigeon cage, and they will. They gave me their word, I think. But this is an emergency I created right now, and we don’t have time to wait for the pigeons to get this done.
That’s why I’ve demanded the government of the District of Columbia foot the bill, just until the pigeons can pay us back.
Not surprisingly, the Mayor of DC and the Council told me to carefully fold the plans for my pigeon cage and insert them directly in my own hindquarters. But I’m not backing down. Until the powers that be recognize the necessity of building this cage around my restaurant, I will stop paying my bills. I’m not paying the rent, my taxes, or my vendors one red cent until the District of Columbia buys me a humongous pigeon cage.
And to raise the stakes on this metaphorical hunger strike, I’m not going to pay my employees, either. They still have to come to work, otherwise I’ll fire them. But they aren’t getting paid until I get a pigeon cage. I know it’s tough, and I can relate. I’ve had to cut back to only seventeen Diet Coke’s a day just to make ends meet. I’m kidding, of course. My employees provide me with unlimited Diet Cokes for free. Someone pays for them, I guess, but it ain’t me. But I can imagine what it would be like to snap my fingers and not have a Diet Coke appear. Sounds terrible!
For some reason, the restaurants all around us don’t view this pigeon issue as important. Just north of us, there’s a bar that shows a lot of hockey, and they seem to be insulated from the negative effects of unfettered pigeon movement. Their team is happy and healthy all the time. They aren’t rich, but they are comfortably above what anyone would see as poverty. They’re even waving to the pigeons at our place, telling them to cross the street and enjoy some poutine with them.
And there’s an Italian joint, a schnitzel cart, and a fancy French sit-down restaurant a few streets over, just on the other side of the big pond. They gripe about their own breeds of pigeons that come in, but they’ve stayed open. They’re happy and busy through it all. Of course, no one I know ever goes to those places anymore. Not even my friend Jim. He says the pigeons have taken over. Sad!
But you know what? Those eateries are all full of suckers, and we’re not going to be suckers anymore. I’d rather starve (my team) than be a sucker.
That’s why I’ve chosen this hill to die on.
Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve chosen this hill for my employees to die on. I’m showing them that someone is always to blame. Often, the one to blame just sits there in silence—or cooing incoherently—and that’s how you can tell they’re guilty.
My employees might all go broke while I stubbornly joust these pigeons, but I’ve told them Pigeon Nation is Public Enemy Number One. I can’t back down now, lest I look foolish. I’m sure we’ll lose some devotees along the way, but that’s the price of doing what’s right for our restaurant. Cut the doubters loose. Thin the herd. Let’s see who is truly devoted to the cause I made up.
While my noble protest continues, I’ve sent home the people who work the host desk, so no one’s actually watching our front door. If any pigeons get into our unguarded restaurant, it’s the DC government’s fault for not building us our pigeon cage. Or maybe it’s the unethical pigeons’ fault for taking advantage of a bad situation. But it’s surely not my fault. Nothing bad ever is.
If we go out of business, it’ll be sad, but that’s why I’ve systematically stiffed my vendors and contractors and socked away tons of money in foreign accounts. If my employees haven’t done the same, whose fault is that? People have to take responsibility for their own lives, like I did.
Together, we will get through this, and we will make our restaurant great again. Or I’ll destroy it trying. I’m good either way. I own my own plane. You guys should look into getting your own, too. Makes life much easier.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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