At a spa, my girlfriend and I found two unoccupied lounge chairs they are much in demand with towels and a bag placed on top by people who wished to reserve them. I removed those things, and we used them. When that other couple returned, they were angry. Was my behavior O.K.? KARSTEN ROTH, BERLIN
Your problem has a built-in (if long-term) solution. Heavy users of sunning lounge chairs
may well die of some horrible skin disease. A neat, Darwinian resolution to the conflict.
Pending the demise of that quarrelsome couple (or your own), you behaved reasonably. Why should a sun bed
lie fallow when many people want to use it? [Randy Cohen]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02...
"On one occasion in March, I erred not only by providing an insufficient answer, but also by failing to understand the question. I misconstrued a technical term translated from German to English, and thereby broke new ground in getting it wrong.
"In his original query to me, Karsten Roth, writing from Berlin, asked about placing a towel and bag atop a 'sunbed' to reserve it. Astute fact-checkers discovered that he meant a poolside lounge chair, something customarily and properly reserved in just this way, as many readers affirmed, often with disconcerting ferocity (perhaps a consequence of overexposure to the sun). Alas, I took Roth's 'sunbed' to be one of those coffin-shaped electric tanning tables -- that's the common American term for them -- so named, presumably, as a sly allusion to 'deathbed.' Because they are used for only a few minutes at a time, and are in short supply compared to beach chairs, one ought not render them unavailable for hours. I could have -- should have -- avoided this bilingual gaffe with a phone call."http://podcasts.nytimes.com/podcasts/2008/05/...
Yeah, Mattes, I agree. At least in the version that the NYT actually published in March, Karsten Roth of Berlin used the right word, and it was Randy Cohen himself who introduced the confusion.
If that's true, it really seems unethical of him to misrepresent what he already said. Who knows, maybe Karsten Roth wrote 'sunbed' and an editor somewhere changed it to 'lounge chair'? If so, is the real problem here just that Randy didn't double-check the column after it was edited?
He also wasn't entirely sure how he wanted to pronounce 'erred,' was he? I can sympathize with that, because I go back and forth myself. But it was also kind of cute, given that he put so much effort into sounding erudite.
Anyway, the annoying thing is that in backtracking, he now seems to have really screwed up on the basic ethical issue. He doesn't even seem to realize what the problem is: namely, that lounge chairs really are
sometimes in short supply at resorts and on cruise ships, and that some people go away for long periods of time leaving their towels on them, not using them themselves but preventing others from doing so. He also doesn't seem familiar with the stereotype of running down to the pool or beach at the crack of dawn to reserve the best-placed lounger, despite not planning to actually occupy it until later in the day. Surely he doesn't really think that kind of dog-in-the-manger behavior is ethical?
It looks to me like he basically just dropped the beach ball a second time. Tsk, tsk. Maybe not forty lashes with a wet noodle, but at least one good pop with a soggy towel. (-;