The Pope is going to have a grand showing in Philadelphia, where I live. The local news has been talking about the event and the World Meeting of Families for over a year. It is supposed to be a grand honor to have this event in my town.
I don’t buy it. The FBI, the Secret Service, and the police have most of the center part of the city locked down and little by little the whole city center will be closed to nothing but foot traffic. The trains, buses, and trolleys will not stop in Center City and you can only ride public transport if you have a “Pope Pass”. Apparently there are Catholics from all over the world visiting. Most businesses are closed Friday, some even closed on Thursday, and the kids are out of school most of this week and part of next. WHAT!! For the damm Pope!! I know you all may think he is a swell guy and he is the first Jesuit pope which puts him in the realm of weird rock star status. I have been listening to the newscasters and the Mayor saying what a wonderful thing the Papal visit is to bring money into our city. If so much money is coming into our city why have I made less last week and this than I have in YEARS?
You think to yourselves, dummy nice Catholics with families in tow are not coming to my smoking bar. Of course! Summer in Philadelphia is slow. Bars and restaurants have less business as people tend to vacation or weekend at the shore which is 80 miles away. After Labor Day typically we can expect business to pick up as the students pour into town and the shore weekends and vacations end. Not this year. August was slow, business picked up slightly in early September but with the Popes visit and the near hysteria from the media about the crowds and closures in central Philadelphia have had people staying home since last weekend. I am not the only one who is suffering. I talked to a friend tonight who works in a high end restaurant. She worked a 13 hour shift today and brought home less than $7 an hour for her trouble!!! She said that she served many from the World Meeting of Families and the clergy. They tipped horribly. I am not sure where in the bible it says, thou shall be exempt from tipping if you are part of the clergy and eat in a pricey restaurant, but I would like to see it. I am not looking for a huge tip for my friend but the standard 15% – 20% would be nice. Heck, it would be nice if my customers could get to my bar without a huge hassle.
Tonight was not awful, people were still able to drive through most of the downtown and we had many young people who are off work tomorrow who are going out tonight but they are leaving town tomorrow to escape the city because of the dire predictions from the media and road closures. The city would have been better served if the people who lived here stayed for the event. They would have been stuck downtown and would have frequented their favorite bars and restaurants. Let the pilgrims see the real Philly and it’s natives in our non Catholic, not scrubbed, may be gay or different glory. Let the world see the melting pot I see in my bar every week. The slice of Philadelphia I see may not be holy but they have learned a to accept those who are different and have accepted a live and let live attitude about the world without judgement. Those here for the Papal Visit and who are visiting Philadelphia for the World Conference of Families can learn a lesson about the world in my bar and how to accept those who are different from themselves. I wish I could show every attendee the Philadelphia I love and not the whitewashed version that is going down.
If you are stuck in Center City this weekend, go out, tip generously. Please.