Thursday, January 16, 2014


The proportion of old age population is increasing in all countries and there is a big dilemma regarding the role of government in protecting these fragile people most of them requiring help, sympathy, love and physical assistance. The relationship between the parents and their off springs get stressed gradually as the latter branch into their own lives after marriage. In a country like the US there are good facilities with specialized care norms to take care of old people provided the expenses are met by themselves or their relatives. Still many old age people like to lead an independent life without depending on any one. World over there are millions of people past the age of their active life, living singly if a widow or a widower or as couples. But their daily life is a drudgery finding it difficult to "pass" time when they are not sleeping. A peculiar problem that has come to surface vis-a-vis old people in New York involves restaurants where old people occupy the seats in side the restaurant for hours together which affect the business of the latter. Here is a take on this interesting scenario which probably might not have any solution immediately. 

"For the past several months, a number of elderly Korean patrons and this McDonald's they frequent have been battling over the benches inside. The restaurant says the people who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours while splitting a small packet of French fries ($1.39); the group say they are customers and entitled to take their time. A lot of time. "Do you think you can drink a large coffee within 20 minutes?" David Choi, 77, said. "No, it's impossible." And though they have treated the corner restaurant as their own personal meeting place for more than five years, they say, the situation has escalated in recent months. The police said there had been four 911 calls since November requesting the removal of the entrenched older patrons. Officers have stopped in as frequently as three times a day while on patrol, according to the patrons, who sidle away only to boomerang right back. Medium cups of coffee ($1.09 each) have been spilled; harsh words have been exchanged. And still — proud, defiant and stuck in their ways — they file in each morning, staging a de facto sit-in amid the McNuggets. "Large group — males, females — refusing to get up and leave," read the police summary of one 911 call placed on Jan. 3 at 2:30 p.m. "The group passed a lot of sit-down time. Refusing to let other customers sit." Neither a Burger King nor another McDonald's, both within a few blocks on Northern Boulevard, has the same allure. Workers at the restaurant say they are exasperated".

One of the solutions could be for the restaurants to levy a charge on such customers based on the number of hours they spend with them. It is similar to the waiting charges paid for taxis or rentals paid to transit waiting lounges. Also possible is to earmark a separate area within the restaurant for elderly people and if the seating capacity is limited there will be an automatic ceiling on the number of people who can enter the restaurant. The eateries will be justified in restricting the entry to the main eating area for genuine customers who can spend a reasonable time eating their food. It will be interesting to see how this social problem is going to be dealt with in the above case.


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