Tip #3 on Being a Good Bar Customer

31 Dec

Click to read Tip #1 and Tip #2 for all your bar-going needs.

So, Tip #3.  Never flag down the bartender unless you are choking on the free wings provided by your favorite local on Monday nights.  Here’s the thing about good bartenders:  we see you.  When we are bartending, it’s like we have extra special powers.  So in my normal life, I consider myself to be a pretty observant person.  I generally notice things.  I don’t tend to walk into trees or get tripped by errant dogs or kids on scooters.  But, there has been the rare occasion when, walking down an avenue, I have bumped directly into someone who strays into my path off a side street.  Or, I am directly across the street from someone I know and I just don’t see them there.  My area of awareness basically extends directly in front of me, mostly on the ground, in an effort to avoid stepping in bubble gum and dog shit.  When I am behind the bar, however, it’s a whole other ball of wax.  I am like, Super Periphery Girl!  I just, see things.  Mostly, I see you.  You and your empty glass.  There is no need to wave your arm around like a crazy person, snap your fingers, or say “excuse me, ma’am?”  Because you know what?  I have already seen your empty glass, registered it, and am likely on my way to rectify the problem.

In case I was not clear at the offset of this blog post, I am going to provide you with a few examples, just so you get the gist, of when (read: always) it is inappropriate to flag me down.

1.  If you see me walking towards you down the extraordinarily long length of my current bar.  Here’s an example from the other day.  There I was, at work.  It was really slow.  There was a couple, with their friend, sitting at the far end of the bar where they always sit.  I did a walk by and noticed all the glasses had a sufficient amount of beer, about 1/3 full, and I know the drinking habits of these people (because I remember things) and none of them are end-of-drink chuggers.  About 5 minutes later I consciously looked over again and noticed one of the beers was dangerously low. I started down the bar towards them, making eye contact with the male half of the couple.  There is no one, not a soul, sitting in the middle of the bar.  Only these three at the end, and a group of regulars near the back.  There was no reason whatsoever for me to be walking down the bar if it wasn’t to address the status of their drinks. And yet, while making eye contact, the dude waves at me and points frantically at his friend’s glass which still had beer in it.  And not just like, the spit at the bottom.  Actual beer.  Beer she could drink.  Why?  Why would he wave?  I really don’t know.  Inappropriate.  Always.  But especially right then.

2.  When you walk into a busy bar and there are lots of people all clambering for drinks.  Here’s another thing about a lot of bartenders:  we are judicious.  When I am working a busy bar, I tend to notice, and note, the order by which people enter and belly up.  I try to address people in the order in which they arrived, keeping in mind location and the speediest way for me to get their drink from a bottle or keg into their glass and in front of them.  There’s nothing worse than having a newcomer walk up to the bar and start waving their hands around.  I see you.  I will greet you, let you know it will be a minute, and then put you on the list.  You won’t get forgotten.  Patience is a virtue.  I know some bartenders don’t do this.  They get caught up and respond to whoever is closest to them.  If this is the case and you feel as though you are being ignored, don’t wave.  Simply place a 20 on the bar.  I guarantee it will get their attention and you will be served.

3.  When you don’t know what you want.  Don’t flag a bartender down, already annoying, and then, while holding one hand out in front of you to keep her attention, turn around to your friends and ask for their order.  If you are going to be so rude as to wave at us, at least have your order set.  Because guess what?  If you don’t, I will walk away and help other people and then take my sweet ass time getting back to you.  We hold grudges, us bartenders.

4.  When you want your bill but you’re not actually ready to pay.  Back to this past Saturday and that super awesome and fun couple (sarcasm – they are not actually awesome or fun at all).  Again, half-full drinks.  All of a sudden I see the female half of the couple leaning forward making those little check-signing hand motions in the air.  Only it was more a full-body thing than simply a flicker of the hand.  I breathed deeply and headed in their direction.  I gave them their tab and then I stood there, waiting, because I figured with such a panicked hand motion, they must surely be in a rush.  Catching a movie, perhaps?  I stood there and stood there.  They made no move for their wallet.  I walked away.  Fifteen minutes went by.  I returned to find the woman standing, looking up at the board clearly calculating the bill to make sure I haven’t overcharged them.  I hadn’t.  I had bought them a drink back.  (Assholes.)  Twenty minutes later they finally hand me some cash.  So, really, was it necessary to flag?  I had done a walk by their area every 5-6 minutes, and a visual check every 3ish, so if they planned on sitting there for that long, couldn’t they have just waited for me to come down and say to them “you guys doing okay?”  But no.  They flagged me.

So, yea, just don’t flag me.  Don’t clap at me or snap at me.  Don’t yell “barkeep” or “sweetie.”  I see you.  Just as well as you see me.  But the thing is, there are a lot more of you than there are me and so sometimes you’ll just have to wait. And, if for some reason I don’t see you, there are plenty of ways for you to get my attention without pissing me off or giving me the impression that you don’t think I can do my job.  I’ve been doing this for awhile.  And there is a good chance that the reason I have not given you your drink is that you flagged me and I therefore think you are an asshole.

In other news, here are some things I heard recently while at work that I wish were never said.  Or at least I wish I never heard.  Because on top of seeing you, I also can hear you.  So maybe keep your voice down?  Maybe be a little less disgusting/racist/bigoted/ignorant/all those other bad things while out in public or, at least, while in front of me?  Except for the last one.  That was funny.

1.  “This morning my wife gave me a blowjob in the shower.  Best way to start the day.  Best blowjob.  Man.  Who needs breakfast?”

2.  Said by, who else, a super old white dude:  “If I were black, I would be the blackest Republican out there because of Lincoln.  If it weren’t for him I would still be a slave.”

3.  Said by a younger white dude upon learning that I had once gone to a Barrington Levy show at BB King’s:  “What were you doing at a dance hall show?  I would never bring my girlfriend to a dance hall show.  Ever.  I bet there was security all over that thing…And anyway, how did you see over all the ‘fros?”

4.  Said by the same idiot:  “So have you noticed that they (lesbians) stay single as long (as gay men)?”

5.  “After I turned into a turtle he didn’t really want to talk to me anymore.”

And that’s all.  Have a very happy new year, everyone.  And remember:  be nice and tip your bartender.

19 Responses to “Tip #3 on Being a Good Bar Customer”

  1. creatingcarrie December 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I feel very fortunate that I had bartender and service people friends at a young age in order to get some bar manners.

  2. antilles26 December 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    #2 makes no sense. Then Lincoln Republican party totally becaMe Democrats. Read a book, guy from #2.

    • FranklyRebekah January 5, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      The guy from #2 needs to do more than read a book. Maybe he should stop talking. OR! He should do something for his throat because the annoyingly loud hacking noise he kept making was cringe worthy.

  3. jillhru January 4, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Love this series. I sometimes do the one finger up, get the nod of acknowledgment, then retract said finger. Is that okay?

    • FranklyRebekah January 4, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      Yes! Yes it is. I think that is like the equivalent to a smile, just to make sure the bartender sees you. Totally acceptable in my bar!

      • jillhru January 4, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

        yes! I keep my barfly credentials. Hey, what’s your bar, btw?

      • FranklyRebekah January 5, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        I will send you a message on Facebook just in case some day my blog is super successful (ha!) and then there is a crazy person who stalks me to my work (if in fact I still work there). 🙂


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