The Hooks

You grab a seat at the bar and, if this is your final destination rather than simply a "stop-over" in the wait for a table, there is often a quick search for a hook under the bar. I'm not even really sure when they came about. I don't have distinct memories of them from a decade ago, but surely they've been around for a while. It was an elusive solution to an obvious problem.

Those sometimes-knee-piercing little attachments are wildly-useful tools for storing the various accessories required to survive daily life. For women, it's an obvious purse hanger allowing it to be kept within reach, off the floor, and protected just enough from anyone who might be tempted by its contents, or the bag itself.

For men, it's a little less routine. Those bold enough to carry a "man bag" can use the hooks much like one would with a purse. They can also hold umbrellas, a camera, perhaps a small laptop bag or messenger bag, a bike helmet, the occasional hat, jacket, a tie at the end of a long week at a job that requires one, or the "score" at the end of a successful shopping day.

Quite often, given their hidden location and the inattentiveness, created by imbibing at the bar above them, people leave things behind on those hooks; such as an Aero bed, reported one bartender. And, on one occasion, a bag of cash totaling $1,500. (I, for one, have left many items behind in restaurants but I'm pretty sure I would always remember my "bag of cash".) Someone even left a shoe behind, which hung from the hook for hours, the owner eventually returned to claim it with clear proof of ownership - wearing the other shoe. One marvels at what occurred between leaving it and reclaiming it. And any number of backpacks which hold the essentials for daily life.

There is a challenge, however. For the hooks to be "discovered", one must hunt-and-peck under a bar where all manner of gum has been discarded, spills have collected and dried into a sticky, syrupy stalagmites, Band-Aids left, clothing labels stuck, and temporary building security stickers abandoned. One must search sufficiently but guardedly.

Hooks have become so depended upon that their absence seems almost like an insult. Jackets must be sat upon or traded in for a numbered plastic tag, purses propped on the step below the bar or rested precariously on the foot rail. During winter (in places that actually have some semblance of it), bulky winter coats, gloves, and hats must be "checked" creating that need for a tip jar, which, one might argue, is an incentive for restaurants to not install hooks in the first place.

I've joked for years that, when I finally open a restaurant (and I'm quite certain that bad decision awaits me in the future), I'll put dozens of them under the bar to show that I "get it".


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