"On a weekday evening, I was taking supper in a Western-style restaurant when a heated exchange broke out between a married couple and an employee two tables from where I was seating. At first I couldn't tell what it was about, but apparently the male customer, a man in his late middle age, had instructed the waiter to being a particular item later, but the food had been brought to the table as soon as it was ready, and he had requested the waitress to take it back."
So begins Arata Kusunoki's column about post-retirement life in Yukan Fuji (Oct 29).
The waitress had followed the man's request, but when the food didn't reappear later, he lost his temper. The waitress had misunderstood, and thinking he did not want that particular dish, had discarded it.
Turning up the volume, the customer complained to a male waiter. Hearing the fracas, the manager came out from the food preparation area and after listening to the complaint, told the customer that once the order was carried back to the kitchen it could not be served to him again. He also informed the customer that as a group had arrived, he would not be able to arrange for a second serving.
Infuriated, the customer shoved the manager.
"You can't engage in violence like that. I'll call the police," the manager threatened.
"If you're going to do it, then go ahead," the customer shouted hysterically.
The manager took out his mobile phone and proceeded to do just that, informing the police of the address and explaining what was happening.
Realizing that the police were on the way, the customer muted his tone and upon the arrival of two uniformed officers, the four moved out of hearing range of the other customers to outside the entrance.
Each gave their side of the story.
"Back inside the restaurant, it was as if nothing had happened," Kusunoki writes. "I paid the check and when I left the shop, the police were still listening to the customer's complaint. By this time he was speaking in a much calmer manner."
Usable data concerning acts by middle-aged "monster customers," including violence, do not seem to have been compiled. One exception is an annual list assembled from reports sent to Japan Railway companies and 35 private railway lines throughout Japan. According to their report issued last July, acts of violence of all types against railway employees during the 2018 calendar year totaled 630. Broken down by age group, people in their 20s accounted for 14.9%, 30s, 17.5%, 40s, 17.1%, 50s, 19.7% and age 60 and over, 24.6%. (The age had not been obtained for the remaining 6.2%).
So while one tends to associate acts of violence with the younger age groups, in fact the percentages are higher for those who are middle-aged and above.
Kusunoki thinks he is on to something and says he plans to keep an eye out for this problem, particularly at places where young women work part time, at train stations and at sports clubs. These aggressive "claimers," he thinks, are essentially bullies who lash out at those least capable of mounting opposition.
As for the aforementioned incident at the restaurant, the customer may have felt his complaint was justified, and it's possible that the service was not carried out as per his requests. But that doesn't excuse shouting and shoving. He may have expected that as he was a customer he would be treated deferentially, but the manager would necessarily have defended the waitress.
"And furthermore, I felt that he wanted to demonstrate that he would not be submissive toward the customer's demands," Kusunoki writes.© Japan Today