A story in today’s Wall Street Journal, by Ralph Gardner Jr., raises an interesting point. Entitled An Enduring Tradition, the column begins with the following question:
Do beverages such as beer taste better depending on the glassware employed for their enjoyment?
But that’s not the point to which I am referring. What I’d like to get to is Mr. Gardner’s admission in the paragraph following:
I happen to have strong feelings on the subject, strong enough that on my travels abroad I’ve been known to walk out with handsome beer glasses from bars, cafes and restaurants. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I ask politely if they’re for sale, hoping to get them for no charge or to pay very little. I’ll only steal them if I’m getting the vibe that no matter how nicely I ask, the establishment won’t part with them.
Yes, in the august pages of the Journal, we now have a reporter admitting to chronic and compulsive theft. And not just admitting to it, but making light of the fact.
This, to my mind, is unpardonable. I doubt very much that Mr. Gardner would be allowed to joke in the WSJ about his tendency to shoplift electronics from Best Buy stores, or dine-and-dash from three star Michelin restaurants, but because it’s just a beer glass, apparently the Journal can turn a blind eye to theft.
I’ll tell you something, Mr. Gardner, people like you are a pain in the ass to bar and restaurant and cafe and beer hall owners everywhere. I appreciate that you say you try to purchase the glass first, but has it ever occurred to you that the reason owners or managers don’t want to sell it to you is because they don’t want to lose yet another glass? That they might be running short on glassware? That the glass might cost them more than they’re anticipating you’d be willing to pay or that the hassle of finding a replacement is more than your few dollars are worth? And really, do you always try to buy the glass first?
But more than the above, I object to the inference that it’s okay to steal and joke about it because it’s a beer glass, rather than a wine or cocktail glass. I doubt that Mr. Gardner would brag about lifting a Riedel Burgundy glass from a Park Avenue wine bar or boast about compiling a full set of stemmed cocktail glasses from the New York mixology paradise, PDT. But since it’s beer, stealing is somehow okay.
No, Mr. Gardner, it’s not. So please stop.