My Favorite Convention Story: “Sir, if all you’re going to do is drink coffee, you’ll have to leave.”

From Connecting, a newsletter written by Paul Stevens for current and former AP staffers:

By Marc Wilson
My favorite convention story was witnessing a governor getting kicked out of a café by a snippy New York waitress.
I was assigned to cover the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit and the Democratic National Convention in New York.
As the Boise correspondent I was assigned to cover the delegations from Idaho, Utah and Oregon.
In New York, I stayed at the same hotel as the Idaho delegation.
All major convention events were staged for prime-time television, so delegates mostly just killed time during the day.
Gov. John Evans, chair of the Idaho delegation, and was killing time sitting in the hotel café informally meeting with delegates.
I sat down with him in hopes of finding a sidebar.
The café was mostly empty. It was about 10 a.m.
A waitress came over to us and addressed the governor.
“Sir, if all you’re going to do is drink coffee, you’ll have to leave.”
The governor sat in stunned silence.
“Mam,” I said, “this is the governor of Idaho. He’s chairman of the Idaho delegation here at the Democratic National Convention. We are guests in this hotel. There are plenty of empty tables and booths.”
“I don’t care if he’s the Queen of Sheba,” the waitress responded. “If all he’s going to do is drink coffee, he’ll have to leave.”
Gov. Evans graciously paid his bill and left.
And I had a sidebar that made the front page of many newspapers the next day.



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