“Congratulations Assemblyman,” I say to the newly elected member of the Legislature.
“Thanks,” the politician says. “Did you vote for me?”
“I’m not in your district,” I reply.
The Assemblyman laughs. A regular customer, he’s been coming to The Bistro for years. I like him.
“Listen,” the Assemblyman says, “While were waiting for my wife, my daughter and I’d like a Heineken.”
I look at the young woman sitting next to him. I’ve never met her before. She’s very pretty and the spitting image of her mother. She also looks seventeen.
“Very well sir,” I say, turning his daughter. “May I see your ID Miss?”
The young lady reaches into her purse. The Assemblyman looks flustered.
“Trust me,” he says, “She’s twenty-one.”
I look at the newly minted legislator. You’ve got to be kidding me. Special treatment? He’s not even in office yet.
“The law’s the law sir,” I reply.
The Assemblyman looks perturbed as I examine the young woman’s license. Then his political instincts kick in.
“You’re right of course,” he says. “You can never be too careful. Underage drinking s a big problem.”
“The police just raided a bar down the street a couple of nights ago,” I say, examining the girls license. “They actually arrested some people.”
“So it pays to be careful.”
The girl’s over twenty one. I hand back her ID.
“I’ll be right back with your beer,” I say.
“Thank you waiter,” the Assemblyman says.
I head to the back and get the beer. Don’t get me wrong, the Assemblyman’s a nice guy and I think he’ll do a good job. But I worry about the new crop of politicians taking office in January. Office holders quickly develop a taste for deference, and that’s the first step on the slippery slope to corruption. It doesn’t matter if they’re Republicans or Democrats. Maybe my little insistence on following the law will remind the Assemblyman he works for the people. That he’s beholden to the same rules we are.
Who am I kidding?
I return to the table and pour out the beer. Maybe the Assemblyman was just acting like a regular customer ticked off that I wouldn’t take him at his word. No matter. He’s a public servant now.
At least he didn’t ask me for a Playstation 3!