Posted by: cochinblogger | June 20, 2010

Philosophy in the Bar

The other day I was in the bar with a few of my colleagues. The waiter approached our table, carrying a soda bottle, one hand engaged in prying the bottle cap loose. Suddenly there was the sound of an explosion followed by the whoosh of escaping soda and the tinkle of glass. All conversation came to a standstill. The top half of the soda bottle had been violently blown off, and the waiter left the room pressing a napkin to his hand. Someone else came in with a mop, and the mess was rapidly removed. In a few minutes, everything was back to normal.

We were fortunate that the waiter was walking toward our table and simultaneously working on the bottle cap with his hand. He was a few feet from our table when the bottle exploded. If he had been closer, some of us at our table could have been injured. Someone at the table suggested that the soda bottle must have been very cold, in fact, just out of the freezer. My thoughts went in a different direction. I was putting myself in the injured waiter’s shoes and wondering how he could steel himself to open the next soda bottle. I put this question to another waiter who was hovering near the table. He laughed and said, “It’s our profession. We have no choice.” Of course! What a silly question! I should have known that every profession has its occupational hazards.

This waiter also divulged that it is the soda bottles at room temperature that tend to explode, not the ones stored in refrigerators. This struck all of us as being counterintuitive, but this man should know; he’s been bar-tending all his life. I’m sure some reader will share the physics underlying this phenomenon with us, but the burden of this post is not this bit of trivia but a further train of thought that this incident generated.

The waiter who had taken our order reappeared with a bandage around his hand, and continued to serve us as though nothing untoward had happened. He did open his next soda bottle a little gingerly, though.

It suddenly occurred to me during a subsequent lull in the conversation that I invariably order soda at room temperature. My throat is sensitive, and I generally avoid passing anything cold through it. I remembered another soda bottle eruption — albeit considerably less violent — in another bar a few years ago. Unaccountably, I began feeling guilty. After all, I was the one who had ordered the “warm” soda. And blood had been shed because of that decision.

So, would it be ethical on my part to continue to ask for warm soda in future, knowing full well that the result might be injury to the waiter opening the bottle? On the other hand, cold soda could give me a sore throat. How were these two negatives to be balanced? What was the ethical course of action? These were the larger-than-life-and-death issues that occupied my mind for a few minutes.

Of course, you know the solution to this philosophical conundrum. I will not insult your intelligence by presenting the answer to you on a platter.

Dear reader, please think: How many people do you know of who while in the throes of intoxication in a bar think of the welfare of the underlings who serve them? How many do you know who apply their minds to ethical and philosophical questions after a couple of glasses of the best? (Mind you, I know of upright, moneyed, sober individuals who treat waiters in restaurants with utter contempt.)

I hope you now realize, dear reader, how fortunate you are to be privy to the thoughts of one so enlightened, one so high-minded, one so lofty in his thinking, one so refined in his sensibility.

If you have realized this, then this post would have served its purpose. 🙂

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Responses

  1. The right way would be to wrap a napkin (towel or cloth) around the bottle before opening it, that way it prevents both injury as well as spilling of the soda, as well as scattering shards in case it breaks/explodes …

    • A valuable tip, sir. Thank you for sharing it.


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