Patio Zombies

Every spring in Halifax there is an annual occurrence that signals the beginning of a new season, and the end of another. It is the start of the patio season. As April turns into May and the temperature begins to climb above 10 degrees Celsius, a zealous and anxious breed of customer awakes from his winter slumber, and descends en masse upon the patios and decks of the city’s restaurants.
They are the patio zombies.

Patio zombies come in many shapes and forms. University students, hipsters, lots of guys with popped collars, scantily clad season pushing girls, and downtown business people wanting to get an hour of sunshine for lunch.

Patio zombies cannot be bargained or reasoned with. They are after one thing and one thing only; to sit outside and consume food and beverage. If you can’t give this to them, they will not eat your brains. However they will swiftly depart, and leave you alone to think about what could have been. This is why as soon as the snow is gone and the days become reasonably warm for about 2-3 hours, the owner is calling the restaurant telling the staff to get the patio ready; the zombies are coming!

After you have prepared the patio, you’ll hear them shuffling up the stairs. You’ll hear that irritating clapping of flip flops, and the unusually loud voice of a guy who has to be on the cell phone. “We’re going on the patio, dude! Come down for a beer,” he yells, calling upon his fellow zombies to attack. Then they enter, dressed as if it was a hot summer day in mid July, wide eyed and gleaming, ready to embark on their annual rite of spring. You greet them at the door and say hello, but they do not hear or see you. They turn to the patio in unison and make a bee line for the deck.

This can be a frustrating experience if your restaurant has a “Please wait to be seated” policy. I’ve seen the “ self- seaters” cause a lot of distress in restaurant employees.

“Fucking patio zombies!”

Do you not see me? Do you not hear me?”

“Jesus Christ do you not see the sign?”

Comments like these have been uttered under the breath of many restaurant employees. Many restaurants with patios have a seat yourself policy so many zombies think this is the case. If you are successful in getting a patio zombie to stop at the hostess stand, you’re chances of getting a hello or any type of pleasant greeting is nil. After saying hello, you are likely to be greeted with the following responses;

“Patio” (uttered while pointing at the patio simultaneously)

“We’re going outside"

“Is your patio open?” This is a good one because the patio will have guests sitting on it at the time.

“How do you get to the patio?” This is slightly understandable but annoying none the less. In some places it is pretty obvious how to get there, and in others it can require some navigation. However, it’s not like one needs a GPS system to find a patio. A little common sense and effort will get you there.

Upon getting to their table, a patio zombie wants a cold beverage immediately. The second their ass hits one of those cheap patio chairs, they begin looking around for a server, or anyone who can bring them a beer. They are no longer lost souls making their way through the universe like everybody else. They are now “Lords and Ladies of the Patio”. “Bring us drink and food quickly! We have our sunglasses on and we are sitting in our chairs in a laid back, leisurely fashion. It has been a long cold winter and we have waited patiently for this seasonably warm late March day to arrive. We are wearing shorts and sandals and we are covered in goose bumps, our arms are held close to our sides, yet we are undeterred!"

Patio zombies will sit outside and pretend they are not cold. What often happens is they arrive during the 1-2 hour span of the day, usually late afternoon, when the weather is reasonably warm. But the sun goes down, and the temperature drops, and they continue to sit. You know they`re freezing but they refuse to budge. The patio zombie season does not last long. After the first month of spring the patio season is in full force and you can`t really distinguish the zombies from regular people.

Episode 028: Semen Walruses

Staff Pick – Empire of the Stars by Arthur I. Miller