Trauma is a Bitch

1 Jun

I feel as though I have been harping on this. As if it has occupied some unreasonable amount of space in my brain and my body. As if I have to apologize for referencing it, for talking about it, for allowing it to impact the way I do my job and live my life. I would say this is the last time I will bring it up here but I cannot say that for certain because I don’t know when, and if, it might come back to haunt my mind again. Trauma, as it turns out, is a strange and unpredictable thing. It winds its way into and throughout your body, it occupies the smallest crevices in your brain. It shows its face at the strangest times and leaves you standing on the street, silent tears streaming down your face, breathing through your racing heart, wondering why all the jokes you make about it can’t just force it to live in the past where it belongs. It makes you doubt your strength and your ability to will yourself to just move forward and leave that experience in the dust, a small annotation in a long life.

A few weeks ago I was informed by my coworker that the guy who physically assaulted me at work had come into the bar. Entirely unrelatedly, and by no intention of my own, I had spoken with him previously, and extremely briefly, over the phone. He told me he hoped we could move forward and become friends. I chuckled and told him not to be crazy, to take care of himself. I got off the phone and I felt good, in control, strong. I worked a shift behind the very bar where the incident occurred and then the next day I wrote him a letter. I knew he wasn’t going to read it, although I would be pleased if he did. It was just a means for me to tell him what I wanted him to know and to take back a little bit of my own power. The goal was to feel a little less helpless and it seemed like it worked. But then the news. I don’t know exactly how to put into words the feeling I got when I was told he had been in the bar the previous week. My hand immediately shot just above my left eye where there is still a pebble-sized calcification just below the skin that I find myself touching when I get nervous or uncomfortable. I looked at my friend in disbelief. My stomach dropped through the floor. I started sweating. I got the chills. So much for power and control. So much for thinking that a guy with a sizeable rap sheet who would throw a glass at the face of a girl who is half his size and two-thirds his age has even an ounce of self-control, has the capability of making reasonable decisions, gives a shit about his own future and his freedom. Joke’s on me, I guess. Seeing the best in a person is simply not possible when there is nothing good there. But beyond that I realized that I had been operating under the incorrect assumption that I was safe and that I was trusting the word of a man who I honestly believe to be a monster. He told his family he would stay away from the bar and me. He didn’t. And according to security he has tried to come into the bar when I’ve been there. Apparently booze tastes better when you get it from a place where you are unwelcome.

And then there was last night. I met up with a good friend of mine to just, I don’t know, catch-up, unload, destress. We went to our local spot which was oddly busy and, just as we decided to go somewhere better suited to our mood I heard it:  violent flesh-on-flesh contact. I grabbed my friend’s arm and just kept saying “oh god, oh god, oh god” until he headed into the mass of people trying to get the man who had struck the bartender out of the room. All of a sudden they were moving towards me. An angry, loud, testosterone-full group of people forcing the guy through the bar and out onto the street. I wedged myself between the bar and a stranger sitting on a barstool. A stranger whose sweatshirt hood I grabbed as I had visions of myself somehow being slammed into the bar or taking an errant elbow to the face. It wasn’t about me, had nothing to do with me, was likely not going to effect me and yet I couldn’t see how something like this couldn’t somehow drag me in. When I knew the coast was clear I fled through the door and leaned against the building, I concentrated on my breathing and willed my heart to just slow the fuck down. I felt weak and powerless. But even more acutely I felt like a self-indulgent asshole as I stood there having a panic attack over someone else’s experience and my proximity to it. Crazy, right?

I guess it’s just a weird thing to realize that sometimes being well-adjusted, self-reflective and emotionally even-keeled is simply not enough. And it’s infuriating to me to acknowledge that another person, a person who I actually don’t even really know and am afraid I might not recognize, has the ability to throw me into a complete and total tailspin in an entirely different neighborhood and in completely different circumstances without even doing anything. His actions didn’t change his psychology but they certainly altered mine. And then it gets me thinking about the trauma that other people deal with on the day-to-day. In the grand scheme of things, what I experienced was small potatoes. People live through wars, through violent attacks of all kinds, through fires, through abuse, through horrific accidents. I imagine those experiences creep up on them, too. Sometimes even randomly, on a Sunday night, in their own backyard. But that’s life, I guess. All we can hope to do is keep pushing forward, realize our feelings and emotions are important and worthwhile, take care of ourselves as best we can and when we can’t, reach out to others to take the pressure off. That’s what friends and family are for and I am eternally grateful for mine.

Here’s to hoping that this is the last post about this bullshit.

The 4:45 am Compliment

3 May

Oh, you guys. It takes all kinds, it really does. Over the years of keeping this blog, I have written about all kinds of times when I have been cat called, street harassed, spit on and the likes by men in New York City. As a bartender, I get my fair share of nonsense when I am at work also. There was the time I got proposed to on a napkin, my answer requested in the form of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ check boxes. Obviously I checked yes. It was a beautiful ceremony. Wish you all coulda been there. Then there was that time I went to give a customer a kiss on the cheek and he turned his face, landing one on my lips. He thought it was hilarious. Me? Not so much. And then there was last night when, after a request for a hug from a regular, I got the following lovely little suggestion (request?) whispered in my ear:

“Are we gonna have sex tonight? I am going to fuck you so hard you won’t be able to run for a week.”

Charming. Have I mentioned recently how much I love my job? No? Oh. Weird.

Anyway, all those things are neither here nor there I just really felt like sharing. The point of this post, really, was to tell you guys about the most ridiculous pick-up line I got last night. Or, wait, maybe it wasn’t a pick-up line. A compliment? I don’t know. Either way it was HI-larious.

Okay so here’s the deal. I had just gotten off a dreamy night of work. Can we just, for a second, discuss the fact that I said that with absolutely no irony whatsoever? Despite the rather aggressive sexual encounter that was offered to me? Seriously, just as an aside, last night I was transported from the bar that I normally work at into what I call Pleasantville. Seriously, everyone was nice! And they were tipping so well! And saying please and thank you! There was one girl who was only, like, moderately nice and she was the worst person we had all night mostly because she spent half the time crying into her gin and tonic. (My coworker and I did feel really badly for her. I hope you are okay where ever you are today, crying girl.) Oh! And before I forget! We also had this other girl sitting at the bar who spent like an hour videoing herself drinking her drink and making duck face. I so wish I had her Vine information because that shit was fantastic. I can’t even really do it justice. Anywho, I got off work, dropped my coworker at home, and headed back to my neighborhood where I found a parking spot on my block, and in a Wednesday spot no less! Score one for Frank! I got out of my car, noticed I was parked a tiny bit on the curb, made the perhaps poor decision to worry about it later (which reminds me….move car…) when a black luxury car with tinted windows pulled up next to me. It was 4:45am. Here we go.

Guy: Hey sweetie.
Me: (unimpressed eyebrow raise) …
Guy: You’re lookin’ awful pretty
Me: (even more of an eyebrow raise and an eye roll) …..
Guy: What’s your name, gorgeous?
Me: I am not going to tell you that. Have a good night.
Guy: Come on, why won’t you get in the car?
Me: (walking away) HA!
Guy: You have just the most attractive kneecaps

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I have to say that in all my years of life and cat calling, I have never had my knee caps admired or complimented. And, honestly, until last night when it finally happened, I had no idea just how neglected they were or, honestly, how beautiful. How shapely. How bendy. And yes, how downright sexy. So thank you, weird 4:45am guy, for sexualizing a previously forgotten area of my body. Hopefully next time you will compliment my armpit, my inside elbow or, if I am lucky, my right pinky finger. It’s a little swollen from an incident with an ice bucket a few months back but it’s still downright hot.

If You Want Your Bartender to Love You…

7 Apr

…please bring cash.

Seriously, guys, it’s easy. Alright so let me just admit one thing: it is easier for me than it is for you. I make some percentage of my income in cash so I don’t require a trip to the ATM to keep my reserves up. It is always just sort of, there. It’s a point of pride for me really. And any lack of cash is a source of serious embarrassment. I am a bartender so cash sort of comes with the territory. For the rest of you who receive paychecks through direct deposit and make all your bill payments automatically on some pre-decided day of the month, a trip to the bank might seem annoying, unnecessary even. But if you go out to bars, and especially busy ones, the trip is well worth a little chunk of time out of your day.

So for one thing, we are not all like a Starbucks. (Yes, I understand that Starbucks does not serve booze – yet. Hang with me here.) You know how at Starbucks you can go in, order your grande whatever the fuck you drink and then hand them your card for the $5 not-so-delicious concoction they hand back to you? Well, the same doesn’t hold true in your neighborhood bar. Please don’t walk in, ask me what the cheapest thing is (already a super big no-no) and then hand me your card. I will not run it. And then when I tell you that there is a credit card minimum —  a fact that, by the way, is written in like 6 different locations, one of which is above the ATM that is provided for your convenience — do not tell me that it is illegal to have a credit card minimum. Believe me, that does not help your cause. Not only have I heard that argument more times than I care to remember (I worked in a bar frequented by both lawyers and law students for years) but I honestly couldn’t care less for the following three reasons:

1. It isn’t my rule, it is the rule of the place in which I work and if you have a problem with it you can bring it up with the owners who, by the way, also couldn’t care less.

2. It is an incredibly empty threat. You know it and although maybe you don’t think I know it I actually do, in fact, know it. Do you think any lawyer worth their weight in salt is going to take the time to bring a bar to court for having a credit card minimum? Maybe more to the point, do you think that I think any lawyer worth their weight in salt is going to take the time to bring a bar to court for having a credit card minimum? I mean, you probably do think I would think that since you brought it up with the hopes that it would have the desired outcome of me running your credit card for a $3 bud bottle which makes me sad for you. You really ought to stop going through life underestimating people.

3. Credit card companies are doing just fine without them forcing small business to pay astronomical fees (I’m looking at you, American Express). Here’s the thing: you like your local bars, right? You like them because you become friendly with the bartenders, sometimes maybe you even get a drink for free or a Peep dropped in your beer at Easter time (kidding, that’s only when I work). You like that you know the owners because it makes you feel like you are in the inner circle. Don’t make it harder for them to survive because you are too lazy to walk to the ATM down the block. And certainly don’t complain about how you don’t want to pay a fee for pulling out cash because you know who else doesn’t want to pay a fee? The person you are trying to get to run your card for 3 bucks. The person who, by the way, doesn’t only have to pay that fee the one time. Don’t forget, you aren’t the only one paying with a card. That fee happens over and over and over again.

And here is the other thing. So I work in two, occasionally three, different bars. They are all incredibly different. One is a sports bar with a kitchen that serves better-than-average pub food. One is a super small, super local spot with a diverse beer selection and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. And the last one turns into something of a hip-hop dance party on the weekends. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that people want their drinks and they want them in a timely fashion. This is easy on a low key afternoon but considerably more difficult on a Saturday night when the bar is 3 deep. And do you know what makes it even more difficult? When I have my back turned to the customers for half the night because I am running through one of the 190 different tabs that have been opened and closed over the course of 3 hours. Because here is the thing folks:

I cannot make you a drink while I am running credit cards through the machine.

And isn’t that what you came out for? Drinks? I mean, I know I have an alright ass and all but I am quite certain you didn’t venture out of your apartment to stare at it for half the night. And if you did, ew, please go somewhere else.

And just one other thing, while I have you all here. If you insist on paying with your card, or you went to the bank and somehow it was entirely out of cash (at which point I would advise you to look for a new financial institution to handle your business because that shit is crashing and burning), please just open one tab. Don’t order a round and close your tab and then come back 15 minutes later and order another round and close your tab again and then come back another 30 minutes later and order another around and, you guessed it, close your tab. That really gums up the works. And it pisses me off. Especially if you are one of the people that gave me a hard time about the credit card minimum the first time around. I remember you. Believe me. It’s just like, think about it. You know how you said

“excuse me, miss?! Helloooo-oooooo”

when I had my back to the bar because I was running a card when you wanted a drink? And how you couldn’t understand why you weren’t getting what you wanted exactly at the moment you wanted it because I was doing something else? Well now, as I run your card for the third time tonight, someone else is waiting with an empty glass, wondering what is taking so long. So, you know, just some food for thought. It’s not all about you.

So you guys, please, I beg you, just bring cash. It saves us all time and, if we’re smart about it, money. And when I know you are paying cash and I am incredibly busy I will probably get to you a little faster. You might even get that buyback that can be so illusive on a busy night. It’s a win-win.

Today in News: Aaron Hernandez, Period Pics and Deforestation

31 Mar

I am trying to get back into my old habit of perusing the news in the morning with my coffee. Lately, I have just not been doing that. I used to pride myself in how up-to-date I was on the goings ons of the world but over the last year or so I have really fallen off. It’s depressing, actually. Maybe my mind has been too preoccupied with all the nonsense that has been happening over the past year and change. Or maybe I am just over-tired from my back-and-forth schedule. Or maybe I have just become intellectually lazy. (I really hope that last one isn’t the case because that would suck.) So, in an effort to combat what has been happening I decided that I would do a little bit of internet surfing. This is the result.

1. Aaron Hernandez

So I read this article in the Times about what is going on in the Aaron Hernandez case. You all might remember Hernandez. Former tight end for the New England Patriots who was accused of killing the semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd back in June, 2013. At the time it seemed like an open-and-shut case but apparently now it isn’t. The prosecution has called something like 100 witnesses to the stand, including Hernandez’s fiance Shayanna Jenkins. The night of the murder, Hernandez called Jenkins from jail to ask her to give some money to this guy Ernest Wallace who was eventually also charged with murder. She apparently drove to Rhode Island, met Wallace, pulled out the maximum allowed $500 from her bank account and gave it to him. She never asked questions. So yea, that’s weird. I mean, I would like to think that if I was dating someone and he called me and he was all,

“Hey, babe, drive to another state, pull out a lot of money from your bank account and hand it to this other dude”

I might be like,

“Hey, babe, why don’t you go fuck yourself I’m busy.”

But then again, to me $500 seems like a lot of money but maybe to the fiance of a pro-football player who had just signed a $40 million contract extension, $500 was like chump change. And maybe she has a really nice car that is fun to drive. I don’t have a car and I also don’t have a lot of money so maybe if I had a boyfriend and he called me from jail (?!) and was all,

“Hey, babe, walk to 9th street and give that guy Joe $20 for me”

I’d be like

“Yea, sure, it’s the least I can do since I you are in jail and all, you dumbass.”

All I’m saying is that it’s all relative, really. Maybe Jenkins regularly took inter-state road trips to deliver money to people. Maybe this was all in a day’s work, you know? Then there’s this other thing which is that Hernandez also asked Jenkins to take a box from their house and dispose of it and told her not to look inside. Or maybe he didn’t tell her not to but she didn’t look inside anyway. Either way she is claiming that she didn’t look inside and people are very suspicious of this. But here’s what I am thinking. So my mom always taught us that privacy is really important. So important, in fact, that when junk mail addressed to me gets delivered to my parent’s house, as it does on occasion, my mother will call me and ask if it is okay that she opens the mail so she can appropriately recycle all the different pieces. You could leave your diary open in front of me and I would never read it. So if someone told me to dispose of a box and told me not to look inside, I wouldn’t look inside. And even if they didn’t tell me not to look inside I wouldn’t look inside. None of my business, you know? But maybe Shayanna Jenkins’ mom doesn’t call her to ask her permission before opening her mail. Maybe Shayanna Jenkins would read your diary if you left it open on your kitchen counter and she happened upon it. I don’t know Shayanna Jenkins so I can’t say. But people are very suspicious because she disposed of this box after Hernandez was accused of murder and she still didn’t open it and I’m thinking, not only would I not open it because of privacy, but I also wouldn’t open it because of plausible deniability. I wouldn’t want to know what was in that fucking box. There could be a finger! Or a penis! (It was a small box.) And also, Jenkins had asked Hernandez whether he had killed Lloyd which to the prosecution makes the likelihood that she didn’t look in the box even smaller but to me it makes total sense. Let’s say, hypothetically, that I was dating a dude who was accused of killing someone and I had asked him whether he did it because I actually thought this was a possible scenario. If that dude who I thought was capable of killing someone told me not to look in a box, there is no fucking way I would look in that box. No thank you. I’m not stupid and, it seems to me, neither is Shayanna Jenkins.

2. Instagram Hates Menstruation!

I have to admit that I also hate menstruation. Shit fucking sucks. I mean, I know that it’s natural and necessary and all that jazz but man is it inconvenient! Every single month I get so sad knowing that for at least one night I will have to wake up once, maybe even twice, to change my tampon or risk waking up to a huge mess in the morning. But, whatever, it happens. And guess who it happens to? A lot of people. People that you know, even.

What does this have to do with Instagram? (My current favorite form of social media because I get to post photos of all the people’s drinks that I have dropped Peeps into at work for my own amusement, #YouveBeenPeeped, if you’re curious.) According to an article on Feministing, Instagram banned a photo that spoken word artist Rupi Kaur posted of herself with a period leak because it violated the app’s community guidelines. Kaur posted the following response to her Tumblr (a form of social media that I think is probably neat and would appreciate my “YouveBeenPeeped” series but just hasn’t made it into my normal rotation):

thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. i will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified…

So here is the interesting thing about this issue for me. I think that Raur should be able to post this photo of herself and I applaud her for doing so. It is important to normalize menstruation. It is a part of life and of growing up and of the continuation of our species and all that shit. But in knowing this, and being supportive of her actions towards this end, I don’t know that I would be able to post a photo of myself with a period stain. I will talk about it. I will write about it. But would I post photographic evidence? Probably not. Is it because that isn’t what I use my Instagram account for? Or is it because I don’t want to offend the people that follow me, despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing offensive about it?

I’ve been trying to do some self-reflection recently. You know, put into practice the things that I believe. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the way that I, despite knowing better, act in a way that supports the misogynist society that I hate so much. All those societal norms that sink into my head from years of being steeped in them and the ways that I reinforce them through my own behavior. Anyway, something to think about. And no, don’t worry, I won’t be posting a photograph of my bloody underwear any time soon…or ever. Just peeps, cats and road trips.

3. The World is Going to Hell, One Deforested Acre at a Time

According to The Guardian, “Brazil and Indonesia spent over 100 times more in subsidies to industries that cause deforestation than they received in international conservation aid to prevent it.”

Ugh.

According to Will McFarland, one of the author’s of the report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) that published the findings,

“By making the cost of producing these commodities cheaper, subsidies increase their profitability and make them more desirable to investors. That in turn artificially inflates their growth, and threatens the rainforests further. With subsides running at over 100 times that of forest aid, we should be urgently trying to reform this system.”

I mean, I don’t know what you guys all took from biology class but for me it was something along the lines of [trees > not trees]. (Science was never my strong suit.) But in all seriousness, what the fuck is wrong with people? Why are we, as a species, so damn short-sighted? And this is certainly not me blaming Brazil and Indonesia. These subsidies are in large part an effort to continue to support massive over-consumption in the North. I know that things have been hard, economically, for a lot of people especially since the recent financial collapse. A lot of people are drowning in all kinds of debt, most notable for my cohorts student loans that are insanely, and I would even argue criminally, high. But we really have to stop putting a price on the irreplaceable. All of these crazy weather events that a lot of people are talking about are absolutely related to deforestation. And there just has to come a point when we realize that things just can’t be as inexpensive as we would like, and that buying things cheaply does actually come at a cost and just because that cost hasn’t always been monetized doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. As it turns out, money isn’t the only thing that’s important. We can’t put a price on everything and things that don’t have a price are not necessarily less valuable.

It makes me think about messes. Like, let’s say you hypothetically decide to pour some beans into a cup and then you stupidly leave the cup on your kitchen counter and go for a run and then you come back and your cat has decided it would be REALLY FUN to see what happens if he knocks the cup off the counter and onto the floor. In short, the answer is beans everywhere. So now because you were hypothetically short-sighted, you have to spend like 20 minutes cleaning up the beans, knowing full well that you will be discovering errant beans for the next 6 months. That’s like trees. It takes moments to be a short-sighted asshole and cut trees down, but decades for new trees to come and replace them. And trees are way more important than beans. I mean, beans are delicious but they do not help us breath. (I know that was a piss-poor comparison but I really wanted to complain about my cat.)

Anyway, that’s all I got. But in case you just skimmed over portions of this because you were like what the fuck is she talking about here is a brief summary:

1. Aaron Hernandez probably did kill Odin Lloyd but it’s not actually that surprising that Hernandez’s fiance Shayanna Jenkins followed orders without questioning them;

2. We should be able to post period pics if we want to but also I need to do some self-reflection about my own role in the continued dominance of misogyny within our culture;

3. If we don’t all want to die from massive weather-related events we should probably stop subsidizing large-scale deforestation. Also, recycle.

I Don’t Trust Anyone Who Trusts Yelp

17 Mar

It may seem strange for someone who spends a decent amount of time contributing content to the internet (although, admittedly, I have fallen off quite a bit as of late) to have such a distaste for the world wide web but, alas, I do. I think, by and large, people are dicks on the internet. And it’s sad because it is such fun tool! There are so many hilarious things to see! Like this! And also this! But, like any well-meaning invention, the internet is also used for evil. (I don’t really think I need to list things. Just use your imagination.) It is so easy to be an asshat on the internet because you don’t actually have to be accountable for anything that you say. You can comment anonymously on a lot of different sites but if you have to actually create an account to register your (ass-y) opinion about something you can just make a fake one! And then delete it right after! Or not delete and then continue to use it over and over again to say mean things to and about people. That way you can say all the things you want to say but would never say in person because then you would have to realize that the person you are saying it to or about is, in fact, just that. A person. A person just like you. A person with a family, and friends, and a life, and things that happen to them — good, bad, and neutral. A person that has good days and shitty ones.

So remember when you were in kindergarden and your teacher said to you “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all?” I think maybe we should reteach that in high school. And college. And graduate school. And in job trainings. And maybe all of the people who tend to be dicks on the internet should write that on a piece of paper and hang it just above their computer kind of like I did when I kept procrastinating my Master’s thesis. I had a post-it hanging over my laptop that said “stop being an asshole and write your fucking thesis.” I finished my thesis. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. The point of this is that Yelp is stupid. So let us compare Yelp to real life, shall we? We all know that when things are shit in our lives, we tend to reach out to our friends and family more. We need an ear, we need support, we need comfort and advice. When things are great, though, we go about our lives and do all the things. Sometimes we’ll call a good friend or someone and be like

Hey! I just got through an entire day without stepping on dog shit or being pooped on by a bird!”

but for the most part we keep those momentous things to ourselves. No one wants to be a bragger, after all. The same thing oftentimes goes for Yelp. Admittedly there are a lot of people who really use Yelp and register both good AND bad reviews. Whatever, that’s fine. I mean, I still think Yelp is totally lame but you do you. It’s cool. But then there are people who go on there and only talk shit. And they complain about the stupidest things ever. Like, really. It is unbelievable. So there was this one time back in 2009 or some shit when I got a negative Yelp review from a dude who was upset that the $5 Bloody Marys that we served in a pint glass were made with the well vodka. AND there was too much pepper in his. I mean, really. What was he expecting? Fucking Grey Goose? Child, please. It really makes me wonder about people. So this dude drank his entire Blood Mary and ordered a second one (yes, I remember him because, as it turns out I am good at my job) but was so miffed by his experience, and the sheistiness of the bar, that he logged onto Yelp and took time out of his day to write a negative review about it so no one else would have to have such a disgusting experience. Rail vodka in a $5 Bloody Mary. Well, I never!

Some people use Yelp as a way to get bars and restaurants to “do right by them” for what they thought was a fucked up experience. Like not getting a buyback. Or having the bartender refuse to charge their phones behind the bar because, surprise! We don’t want to be held accountable if your phone gets wet and, also, just so you know, asking us if you can check your texts every 5 seconds while we are trying to help people who are actually paying us is a little bit annoying. That’s a free tip from me to you. You’re welcome.

And then there are the people who have bad experiences because of their own behavior and then blame the people working. I recently received this review:

I bought my girlfriend one last beer and stepped outside to have a cigarette.  A few minutes later, my girlfriend came outside beer-less because, in a rush to close the bar, the bartender literally grabbed the (almost full) beer out of her hand and demanded that everyone leave.  I totally understand wanting to close up and go home, especially given that we were the last patrons there, but to essentially confiscate the drink she had just served us–and after we had been buying drinks for hours–wasn’t cool.  Some of my friends complained that she had been rude to them throughout the night as well, although I didn’t personally experience that.

Okay so here is the thing. I also remember this group. Why do I remember them? Well, because I had to kick them out. Why did I have to kick them out? Because what this reviewer failed to mention was that they had brought in a 750 of Seagram’s, some Sprite and a gallon of orange juice and were attempting to mix their own drinks inside the bar rather than buying them from me.  Personally, I thought that “wasn’t cool.”(Also, I grabbed the beer off the bar not out of the girl’s hand. But whatever. Details.) As for me being rude?Well, that’s all in the eye of the beholder. I like to think of myself as pleasantly professional. I am not a glad handler and I am not looking to make friends, I have enough of those already. If you’re nice to me I’m nice to you and if you’re not, well, I’ll hold the smile. I think that’s well within my rights.

So here’s the thing: there are always two sides to the story and Yelp only allows for one. Honestly, I am not losing any sleep over whatever reviews I get because I do my job well and, for the most part, people like me. And if it makes people feel better to shit on a bartender or an establishment and consider themselves completely free of any and all poor behavior then fine. That’s their prerogative. A sad prerogative, but a prerogative nonetheless. But let’s all just not take Yelp so seriously, you know? Or else, let’s create a Yelp for bartenders, servers, baristas and the likes. See what all we have to say about our customers. Now that would be some shit.

A Letter to the Guy Who Threw a Glass at My Face

7 Mar

Dear ______,

It has been two weeks since the night that you decided to throw a glass at my head because I, rightfully it now seems, refused to serve you a drink because of your aggressive behavior. I am quite certain you won’t ever read this but on the off-chance that you stumble upon it one day, I figured I would let you know what my past two weeks have looked like.

I woke up the Sunday following the incident unable to fully see through my left eye because the lid was swollen enough that it was obstructing my vision. I picked up the phone and called my parents. My father answered. I started off the conversation by asking him whether he was sitting down, telling him that I was fine, and then told him that some guy had thrown a glass at my face and that I had a black eye. During the first moments of the conversation he must have motioned for my mother to pick up a receiver because at some point her voice appeared, a soothing balance to my father’s worry turned anger turned worry. I understood both of their approaches. I can’t imagine what it must be like to receive a phone call from your daughter on a Sunday morning with the news that she was physically assaulted at her job.  I spent the rest of the day on the phone with my parents and my boss, I cancelled plans with friends, got shifts covered at work, I cried. Occasionally I passed in front of the mirror, shocked every single time by the face that looked back at me.

That evening was taken up by a visit to urgent care to assess any potential permanent or temporary damage. Thankfully you hit me in the “right” place, a centimeter above my eye socket. Had the glass struck me just slightly lower, I could have lost my vision or the entire eye. But of course you weren’t thinking about that. You were so infuriated by my refusal to serve you the alcohol you clearly did not need that you almost caused me serious, permanent damage. It’s a strange feeling to consider yourself lucky in the aftermath of such an attack but I do. It could have been much worse. And honestly, you are almost as lucky as me that it wasn’t.

And the phone calls continued. To friends and family concerned about my well-being and ready to offer me advice about what I should do next. I would be stupid to go back to work at that bar, they said. I was like a sitting duck. I wouldn’t be safe. On top of the pain I was feeling in my head I was also looking at a potential loss of my livelihood, at least for the immediate future. But you didn’t think about that, either. You didn’t think about me being concerned about the short 2 block walk from the subway to my job, about the distance between the bar entrance and the taxi I will always have waiting for me now, about my anxiety that a new security guard who doesn’t know you will let you walk in the door and there I’ll be again, face-to-face with you, refusing you service because you will never get anything off me again, hoping that you don’t grab a bottle this time.

And then, of course, there is the physical reality. I have been making my way through the world for the past two weeks with a black eye. Do you know what it’s like to be a girl walking around with a black eye? No, of course you don’t, but I’ll tell you. It fucking sucks. People either stare or they avoid looking at your face, directing all questions and comments conspicuously over your left shoulder. Those that stare do so with a look of concern and pity. You can see the narrative forming in their heads about the late night argument, the angry boyfriend or husband, the accusations, the promises that it won’t happen again. Most people don’t ask what happened because they already know, or think they do. Those that comment say things along the lines of what a customer said to me last night: I hate seeing that shit. He refused to allow me to tell him the actual story about what happened, to assure him — even though, to be honest, I am not sure — of my safety. He already knew the story, or so he thought. He threw me a $20 tip.

I know you don’t care but my face is almost entirely back to normal. There is just a small discoloration under my left eye that can, in some light, pass for a birthmark. So when I head behind the bar tonight, behind the same bar that two weeks ago was the scene of the attack, I will look almost like I did then, almost like I did when you lost your shit and threw a double rocks glass at me without a thought to my safety or your freedom. But I guess rash behavior is sort of your deal, or so I’ve been told.

So I guess now we wait and see, let the chips fall where they may. I will continue to question every decision I have made up until this point. Were they right? Were they smart? Were they the best choices for me? My safety? Never once did I think about how these decisions might impact you. You are meaningless to me. Whatever happens to you now is on you, you did it. And as the time passes you will become less frightening to me. I will start to feel sorry for you, for whatever is wrong in your head that makes you behave the way you do, again and again, and somehow justify it to yourself. I will feel sorry for your family who constantly has to clean up your mess. One day they will stop. And it will just be you, and your anger, and your violence, all alone. I may or may not be the straw that puts you there but it will happen. And by that point I will barely even remember that you exist.

Good luck.

Rebekah

This is Being a Victim

23 Feb

Then:

Where do I begin? I guess at the point of the incident because what came before doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t alter the outcome. It’s all just details, really. At just before 2:30am this past Saturday night a customer threw a glass at me. It made contact with my face just above my left eye. It didn’t shatter, thankfully. According to the doctor at the urgent care center that my friends Ashlie and Katie accompanied me to last night, I am fine. Lucky, all things considered. There is no vision damage, no broken bones, no foreign body lodged in my skin, no chance for permanent scarring. Once the bruise works through the process of healing itself it will be, at least from the outside looking in, as if this never occurred. But it did. And that won’t change.

It is a weird thing, being physically assaulted. It isn’t that it hasn’t happened to me before, which is a really sad and scary thing to admit. I was slammed against the bar once when I got caught in the middle of a fight between too overly emotional, and overly intoxicated, men. I was jabbed in the face by a customer who was unaccustomed to being told no. In both of those instances, the perpetrator balked immediately after. There was a look of shock on their faces that registered their surprise and remorse for how far they had taken their aggression. In neither instance did the person intend to make contact with me, intend to hurt me. And to me, the intentionality matters. The look of immediate regret that passed over the mens’ faces, even if it lasted for only a moment, told me enough about their personalities, about the risk that they would commit the same act again, that the fear that I felt at being assaulted did not last much past the night of the incident. I was upset that these people could not control their tempers. I did not fear that they would have taken it further if they could have. I was not afraid, not for a moment, that I would ever encounter these people again. But this time is different.

After the glass made contact with my face there he did not pause, did not register even the smallest bit of shock or regret. I stood there, staring at the man who threw it, covered in the liquor that had remained inside the glass until it struck me because of the strength and speed with which it was thrown, blood trickling down my face. I stood and I stared while he continued to yell at me, while he hurled threats of violence against me, while he tried to lean far enough over the bar to get at me again. The men who finally got him under control said it was everything they could do to keep him from hurting me further. They were certain at least one of his buddies was armed.

After they got him and his friends out I retreated to the liquor room, crouched down and cried.

Now: 

So here’s where I’m at, in the aftermath of all of this. I have spent the last 36 hours trying to wrap my head around what happened and how to move forward. I went to urgent care, got a tetanus shot, reached out to everyone I can think of who can provide me with as much information as possible so I can figure out how best to handle this for myself specifically. But here is the thing: I have to be careful because a person who lodges a projectile, a weapon really, at someone’s face and then says, as this man did, that “I had it coming” does not care about consequences. He does not feel regret. His system of morals is tiny, if it exists at all. Every decision I make will not only have consequences for him, they will have consequences for me. The way I proceed will effect my day-to-day life. The life that finally returned to some semblance of normalcy only recently. Someone who feels no regret is not someone who takes punishment in stride, is not someone who understands that every action has a reaction. He is someone who got so angry that he was refused a drink that he looked at me almost an hour after the incident with such rage that I am still convinced that, in that moment, he was capable of doing serious physical damage to me with his bare hands. That is a lot to absorb. And it scares the shit out of me. I have never looked that kind of anger and hatred in the eye before.

What is more is that it wasn’t just that he was refused a drink, but that he was refused a drink by a woman. That is what keeps getting me again and again. Some people, having read this blog that has enumerated the incidents that I have had over the past number of years might think that I had it coming. They might think that there is a common factor in each of these incidents and that the common factor is me. But the reality is that a lot of these circumstances never would have escalated to the point that they did, might not have even happened to begin with, if I was a less vocal, less opinionated woman or, better yet, if I was not a woman at all. Put quite simply, being an opinionated woman is simply not safe and that’s the world we live in. That’s the reality of our lives.

Tomorrow:

So now I have to think about my safety in a real way. I look back on what I did and I wouldn’t do it any differently. I regret nothing, not a single word, not a single action, not a single decision. If faced with the same circumstance I would do it all over again, even knowing what I know now about who this guy is, what he has done and what he is capable of. Maybe it’s stupid and shortsighted but I cannot allow a man to enter my life and blow it apart. He shouldn’t have that sort of control. And it’s fucked up that now, because some idiot with an overblown ego and a stunted character threw something at my head I feel afraid. He did this to me. He overreacted. He threw something at me. He made me bleed. He gave me a black eye that is going to take weeks to heal. And now I am the one who is afraid. I am the one being contacted by family and friends full of concern and advice. I am the one walking down the street wearing a mark of what happened for everyone to see, and wonder about, and judge. I am the one with mace in her bag.

And so I have choices to make. And what I decide will, of course, impact him. But fuck him. Whatever choice I make could potentially take him off the street for a time but it will not make him understand that what he did was wrong. This was not his first rodeo and I have no doubt it will not be his last. I want to act in a way that I will feel confident in going forward, that will let me sleep at night. I want him to pay not for how he made me look, because that will pass, but for how he made me feel and how he made my family and friends feel. We are afraid and he should not have that kind of power. But he does. And that is so fucked up. He is a bad person who I shouldn’t have time or space for but he forced himself into my life by throwing a glass at me because of some trivial nonsense and now I have to worry about my safety and my livelihood. I have to try and assess, with the limited information that I have, how much risk I am in going forward, what the best course of action is, and how I can live my life, work and move around this city without constantly looking over my shoulder.

This is being a victim. It is complicated and shitty as fuck. He made me a victim but he will not make me powerless.

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