Flashback to the days when this IT pilot fish is still young, foolish and working for a communications company that regularly sends him out of town for work or training.
"Part of my job often included sharing lunch with vendors or clients, and I had suffered through enough bad ones to know eating lunch by myself was often a blessing," says fish.
"One of my trips took me to Dallas, Texas, where there was a steak place that was famous for two things: good steaks and the fact that they didn't allow diners to wear neckties."
It's a gimmick, of course, and the steak house warns customers when they enter. But anyone wearing a necktie will, at some point while waiting for dinner, suddenly hear cowbells and whistles.
A group of the restaurant's staff will come out with a huge set of shears and, to the delight of onlookers, boisterously cut the necktie off the offender -- and the walls are festooned with thousands of neckties and business cards.
One evening fish manages to get off on his own for dinner at the steak house. He's enjoying the solitude when a dozen Japanese businessmen walk into the restaurant with a lone American, who's obviously the company rep chosen to shepherd the business tourists around town.
They're all seated and duly warned about their almost identical neckties.
And 15 minutes later, cowbells begin ringing and a group of restaurant staff come out to deal with the situation.
From across the dining room, fish watches as the tie-cutting ceremony is repeated 12 times -- and, these being Japanese business-tourists, as each one's tie is cut, the other 11 all snap pictures of the beaming victim.
"During the festivities, I caught a glimpse of their American guide -- who was obviously hating his life at that moment," fish says. "It suddenly came to me that, no matter how much I had to deal with vendors and contractors at lunch, I really didn't have it too bad!"
Now Sharky's hungry -- for your true tale of IT life. Send it to me at email@example.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.
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