Tip #2 on Being a Good Bar Customer

18 Dec

(You can read Tip #1 here.)

Never argue with your bartender about the price of your drink.  Especially when your bartender is not actually in charge of setting the prices, the management is, with a fair amount of input from the cost of the bottle or the keg itself.  Bars, the good, fair ones at least, do not just pull prices out of their asses.  They are calculated considering the number of shots, neat pours, or pints expected to come out of the given bottle or keg, taking a certain amount of waste into account.  Bars are businesses, after all.  Some bars have to charge more because of their location and the subsequent higher inputs to keep the bar running.  We do not have to do that which means you, the customer, are getting a completely fair price for whatever it is you ordered.  If you want to drink cheaper, drink at home.  Here’s a story.

I just arrived at work and the bar was a little busy following an office Christmas party earlier in the day for a big group of our regulars.  (Read:  everyone was trashed and being super loud.  But that’s okay because it’s a bar and that’s what people do there.)  I had come straight from the library and had a little bit of a headache but was trying my best — not sure how successful I was at this — to come across as a relatively pleasant person.  One of the veins in my right eye was super red and pulsating.  Transitioning into the bar was going to take a little bit of an adjustment period during which time I planned on smiling at people and getting them their drinks, saving all meaningful conversation for a little later.  One of my customers was being, as usual, extremely loud.  Like, crazy loud.  Like yelling to someone who was literally 2 feet away from him loud.  So I made a joke to one of his friends, in good fun, that went a little something like this:

He is talking to someone right in front of him, right?  He’s like one of those guys from those old 90’s commercials for hip-hop compilation CDs where the dude explaining the product is like SCREAMING and you’re all like, “why are you yelling?  I’m right here!”

It was a joke.  I made it obvious that it was a joke.  But I think it pissed off one of his other friends, who had had WAY too much to drink, who was not even the person I was telling the joke to.  Anyway, this guy, we’ll call him Steve, ordered a whisky.  The same whisky he has been drinking for like 3 years.  I poured him his drink, took his twenty, put 8 of it in the register because that is what this particular drink costs, and gave him his $12 change.  He gave me the stink eye.  Even before he looked at his correct change he gave me the stink eye.  Whatever.  He felt like picking a fight.  So then this interaction happened:

Steve:  Um.  A Bulleit Rye is $8 now?

Me:  A Bulleit Rye has always been 8.  It’s 7 during happy hour, which ends at 8 o’clock, so now it’s 8:30 and so the Bulleit is $8.

Steve:  That’s too expensive.

Me:  Well, I don’t see how it’s too expensive today but it was fine a week ago but, you know, I don’t set the prices.  So, if you have a problem with the price, you have to talk to the boss.  I have nothing to do with it.  I just charge what I am told to charge.

Steve:  I hope you know that I just paid barely twice as much as what you just charged me for 4 drinks.

Me:  I highly doubt that’s the truth.  But maybe you got one for free.  Also, it was happy hour so they were a buck cheaper.

At this point I am getting more than slightly irritated but trying hard to hold my temper.  Trying to give him a little drunk wiggle room to fix the way he was coming across.  He ignored the wiggle room.

Steve:  (In the rudest most condescending voice ever) Well, you need to learn how to take care of your regulars.

Okay.  I’m sorry.  What?  So, again, I refer you to Tip #1 during which I explained how it is not okay ever, under any circumstance, to ask for a buyback.  You know what that does?  It means that the bartender never wants to give you a buyback again.  And you know what?  That’s her prerogative (totally never knew there were two ‘r’s in that).  The buyback, as I believe I have mentioned before, is a privilege, not a rule.  It is me as a bartender, and my establishment as a bar, telling you we think you are awesome and want you to keep coming back all the time.  And you know what this interaction was?  Decidedly not awesome.

Me:  (Hands shaking with anger.  Also, at this point I have slid his $2 tip back towards him and told him I am not interested in his money)  So let me get this straight.  I just got here. I have now served you 1 drink and you want me to give it to you for free?

He wouldn’t look at me.  So I turned on my heal and huffed down the bar.  And then I decided I couldn’t let it go because, really, when can I?  So I got the price book, took out a red pen, highlighted the cost of the drink he was arguing with me over and shoved it under his nose.  (This, I admit, was overkill.  Sue me.)

Me:  See?  Eight dollars.  Deal with it.

I then restormed off down the bar and seethed.  But, as a bartender, I obviously couldn’t seethe for too long so, after a few choice comments to a friend of mine, I went about my business, deciding not to let Steve ruin my night or the night of any of my other customers. I would venture to say I was more smiley than usual, to prove a point.  Then Steve called me down to the end of the bar.  I didn’t expect an apology but I expected something along the lines of “blah blah blah, that got out of hand, are we cool?” which we wouldn’t have been but I’m about keeping the peace for the most part so I probably would have lied and said we were.  But no.  In his hand he had another 20 which he then shoved toward me and said, in a snide tone,

Take this.  It isn’t about the money.

Clearly it is about him, the righteous one, teaching me how to do my job.  It is him teaching me how to treat people. It is him informing me about the way that service industry people should treat their customers, without for a second giving thought to the obligation the one being served has to treat their bartender, waiter, barista, as a human being.  I, obviously, didn’t take it.  Not when he tried to give it to me, and not when he gave it to his friends to give to me.  That money was rude, condescending, asshole money.  Not interested in that kind of money.  I only like sparkling, happy, money.  I’m picky.  Also, it made me feel dirty.  Maybe I am analyzing something through a gendered lens inappropriately, but there is something about being a woman and having someone prove their point by shoving money at you that just feels…icky.  Maybe it’s the case for everyone.  Who knows.

So we’ll see what happens next time I see him.  But, for now, I leave you, friends, with this tasty nugget:  a few years ago this same Steve was arrested for pissing on the outside of a bar after he and his friend, who were behaving badly (surprise!) got kicked out of said bar.  So, there’s that.

11 Responses to “Tip #2 on Being a Good Bar Customer”


  1. Tip #4 on Being a Good Bar Customer « franklyrebekah - January 21, 2013

    […] and want to, or if you have already and really love them and want to again, you can read Tip #1, Tip #2 and Tip#3 here.  Also, trigger warning, this is a bitter post.  Clearly, 4 days and 4 bar shifts […]

  2. Tip #5 on Being a Good Bar Customer « franklyrebekah - February 18, 2013

    […] don’t have access to a firearm.  Right.  So, you can read the earlier tips here:  Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3, and Tip […]

  3. Tip #6 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - May 15, 2013

    […] is a series!  You can read all the other tips here: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5. Or you can read about this incredibly awkward sort of love triangle-esque (only so […]

  4. Tip #7 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - June 18, 2013

    […] read them all by following these links!  It’s like magic (or hyperlinks…).  Tip #1, tip #2, tip #3, tip #4, tip #5 and, finally, […]

  5. Tip #8 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - July 17, 2013

    […] to check out my other tips if you haven’t already.  Mostly they’re funny.  Tip#1, Tip #2, Tip #3, Tip #4, Tip #5, Tip #6 and Tip #7.  Enjoy.  […]

  6. Tip # 9 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - August 8, 2013

    […] missed the earlier tips and wish to catch up, look no further than the following links.  Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3, Tip #4, Tip #5, Tip #6, Tip #7, and Tip #8.  If you wish to share the tips with your bad […]

  7. Tip #11 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - November 8, 2013

    […] it rains it pours, right?  If you want to check out the vintage tips, here are the links: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.  Share them if you have some badly behaving […]

  8. Tip #12 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - December 19, 2013

    […] And if you are feeling nostalgic for all the other tips, you can go ahead and read them here: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, […]

  9. Tip #13 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - January 31, 2014

    […] keep on coming, folks.  If you want to catch up on the earlier tips, you can go to them here: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII.  Did I get those right?  I haven’t […]

  10. Tip #14 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - September 2, 2015

    […] ages, you can catch up with them by clicking on these handy little links! Here they are: Tip#1, Tip#2, Tip #3, Tip #4, Tip #5, Tip#6, Tip #7, Tip #8, Tip #9, Tip#10, Tip #11, Tip #12 and Tip […]

  11. Tip #15 on Being a Good Bar Customer | franklyrebekah - November 21, 2015

    […] Feeling a little rusty in bar etiquette? Well, feel free to freshen up with some past tips. Tip #1, tip #2, tip #3, tip #4, tip #5, tip#6, tip #7, tip#8, tip #9, tip #10, tip #11, tip #12, tip #13 and tip […]

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