My first reaction upon entering the Spot was not a positive one.
There were televisions everywhere and I really do mean everywhere. I took a seat at a booth that had a television mounted on the wall, just like every other booth in the area, the faint sounds of When the Levee Breaks in the background, Fox Sports Speed is on the TV.
Places like this are akin to foreign countries for me. I don’t know anyone who leaves their house in order to watch television at the table. Why would you DO that?
The background noise for my Alameda IPA includes some ‘redneck’ on Fox Sports Speed, close captioned, nattering on about how excited he is to see a Lotus and a Mustang race each other. I feel like I am through the damned looking glass here.
About this time, I look around; everyone else is smiling and engaged. There isn’t a smartphone diversion anywhere to be seen, except by me, taking notes. Everyone else is engaged in the sporting events and with the people at their table or along the rail. I see someone giving out hugs as she leaves the bar. They’re laughing and clearly having fun. It’s pretty easy to contrast this with Bailey’s, where the scene is also filled with people but those people are often letting the outside world tap into their table conversations.
I make no judgment on either scene: Televisions are their own intrusion on the world but by god, people here look happy. I’m going to tell you (or them) that the Spot is all messed up because I feel out of place?
My girlfriend reaches up to touch the power light on the TV; it suddenly turns off. We both go wide eyed in surprise and start looking for an actual power button. In the back of my mind, though, I’m also thinking: well at least you have the option to turn it off, if you want to.
She finds the sensor to get the TV back on. Whew. Always prefer to leave things as we found it.
“They’ll change the channel for you, if you like,” a man with a pepper-salt mustache, a trucker cap, and a navy blue tshirt says to us from a near table, leaning forward. He points to the top of the TV: “They have boxes for each one; you can set it to whatever you like, just let somebody know.”
We thank him but we were just trying to figure out how it worked. He smiles, keeping an eye on the television “The Mustang won, so we’re all good.” Everyone enjoys a brief chuckle.
And a few minutes later, a waitress (flagged down by our helpful patron) asks us if we want to change the channel. We politely tell her no, everything is fine.
And it pretty much is.