Coos Bay, Oregon, U.S. August 14
Our most convenient dockside hangout here in Coos Bay is The Basin, aka greasy spoon restaurant, immediately at the top of the dock gangway. If the truism “location, location, location” has any validity, they should be successful. But something is amiss. It is nearly empty — like the kind of roadside restaurant you avoid because there are no cars in their parking lot.
It only took us several breakfast visits to catalog their modus operandi. They have a culture of slow service, below-average food, un-bussed tables, occasional bugs and a general lack of customer friendliness that would run a Seattle coffee shop out of business trailing a string of one-star Yelp reviews. Here the word travels mouth-to-mouth (sorry about the pun), but the results are the same. I commented about the Basin’s unpleasantness to a local fisherman who told me “this used to be the hot spot.” Now each morning they have a trickle of customers while locals take the extra time to hike to the restaurant considerably further down the road near the bridge. Such is the rise and fall of food empires, large and small.
Why then would we tolerate the Basin? We were drawn there by their one precious feature: wi-fi. Donn, Jerry and I huddle surreptitiously in a corner in our electronic world not occupying much more space than the distance from eyeball to screen. We are polite, take a corner table otherwise unused, don’t bother anyone, order a breakfast, and tip handsomely. But we have an uneasy sense we are not welcome.
The coup de grace occurred yesterday when the Grinch came over and rebuked us by invoking the “two-hour Internet use rule” — something un-posted and un-known to other Internet users. It was targeted at us. We must be the wrong kind of people — discriminated against but not knowing why. Was it my full brimmed sun hat (locals wear ball caps)? Was it we didn’t get up and go to work like the fisherman? Was it were are clearly outsiders? Was it we had fun huddled in our obscure corner? Was our indiscretion that we overstepped our bounds by adjusting the Venetian blinds to reduce the sun’s glare on our computer screens?
Maybe we’ll never know — or care about the “why” of it. All I know is that I came away feeling like Rosa Parks for not sitting in the back of the bus.
We vote with our feet and with our wallet, and fortunately we found another choice down the street that has shunned these maladies. Meanwhile this little cell of grumpiness slowly atrophies, and I bet the next time I pass this way there will be a shabby building with peeling paint, weeds growing high and a “For Rent” sign hanging askew in the window.
Stop at Noonies Breakfast Bar by the bridge and you will leave with a satisfied belly and a smile on your face.