An Unfortunate Event

I revisited the 3rd St. Market Hall last week while in Milwaukee for a baseball game after such a good experience in the spring.

At that time, I eventually chose barbecue chicken mac-and-cheese for lunch, which I leisurely enjoyed before going to the art museum. I stopped again later for some coffee before my return train to, and something sweet for my wife in, Chicago.

This time, I found a quiet table — the space around 10am was nearly empty — where I could decide whether to eat before or after the baseball game. In the meantime, I was planning my route to and from the stadium and finishing some fruit and vegetables I had brought on the train.

I was soon approached by someone who had been in a group gathered around computers at a long table. He informed me without any introduction that purchases paid for the table and chair I was using and that signs at the nearby entrance prohibited outside food.

This person should have known from the technofeudalism and capitalism book on the table between us that I needn’t an economics explanation. He also would have know had he asked any questions that I was planning to purchase lunch either before or after the game, and that I hadn’t used the entrance to which he gestured.

I assured him that I would put the produce back in my back, and then left after resolving to skip lunch altogether. I did relent after the game, and stopped on my way to the train station again for something sweet for my spouse without this time using any tables or chairs.

I’ve never had such an experience at any of Chicago food halls, not even when I’m in one just to work. I also didn’t expect such an experience in a place that invites people into its space, offers them something to drink, and encourages them with games and screens to linger.

I can imagine the pressures of decimated downtowns as well as the desire for paying patrons. At the same time, I suspect such strategies can only drive potential, and previous, customers from such spaces.

I intend to return to Milwaukee later this summer but will likely as a result skip this place. I wonder what I’ll say anytime anyone asks about these trips, but do know what I will remember, which I fear won’t be the baseball game, and not just because the Cubs lost.






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