Tag Archives: bartender problems

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.

What’s Up with the Kids These Days?

13 Jan

I am sure that many of us who have spent time in the service industry have had some variation of the following conversation that I had just this past weekend with my coworker, who I will call “B.”

Me: Man, what is with these tourists not tipping?
B: I know, right?
Me: I mean, when I go traveling I buy the book! And then I read the book! And I especially read the part about tipping customs so I am not inadvertently an asshole and then when it says “it is not customary to tip” I say “fuck that nonsense, I’m doing it anyway!” How do they not know?!
B: Oh, they know. They just think they can get away with not knowing. It’s fucked.

I am, like B, quite convinced that most of them know. I mean, how could they not? It’s in all the books. It’s on all the internets. It’s on all the checks when they get auto-gratted because it is such a common problem that restaurants have to put a practice in place to make sure that their staff gets compensated. Maybe it’s like a game they play. A cruel, cruel game. They want to see when they can get away with (1) not tipping and (2) not being auto-gratted and then they write back to all their friends and are like

“We have found the spot! We have found the spot where we can eat our food, poo-poo the wine, AND not pay for the service!”

Those places are mostly in midtown.

Maybe I am exaggerating. But the thing about foreign tourists specifically is that if this was all intentional it was sort of genius. Because now when people order from me with certain accents I assume I won’t be getting a tip. But then when they tip me… woah! It’s like, the best thing. I am so happy about the tip! I even go over to my coworker and I do a little dance and I’m like

“Look! Look! A tip!”

Maybe it’s that all the foreign tourists got together and picked straws and whoever chose the small straws get to be the tip fairies and make bartenders and servers the country over jump with joy when the unthinkable happens. That seems reasonable I think, right? Maybe I’m thinking too much into it. And, in fact, joking around about foreign tip fairies wasn’t even the point. This is the point. In the past few months I have come to the conclusion that the worst tippers, the absolute fucking worst, are (drum roll please) young white kids. What is up with the kids these days, guys?! What has happened?

So, listen, I was a young white kid once and while maybe I didn’t tip then like I tip now (I have been working in service for far too long and tip like I am the richest bartender in Brooklyn) but I always left something, and it was generally 20%. Or, at the very least, a dollar a drink. I didn’t always understand buybacks and so I did have this regretable period in my life where I would visit a friend of mine and he would give me my glass of wine for free and I wouldn’t tip him. But of course, he was trying to sleep with me (which he eventually did) and so I feel less bad about it. In hindsight, not tipping and instead having sex with someone seems like a fair trade (although I didn’t really connect the two together at the time and, now that I am thinking about it, I sort of wish I hadn’t ever connected it because I feel a little bit icky). But also, this happened like 8 years ago so I should probably just let it go. What’s done is done. But this gives you a little insight into me. I still feel bad, and am still trying to wrap my head around making a bad tip decision when I was like 23 and sex was involved!

And I got sidetracked. Again. The point is that a lot of young, white kids these days simply don’t tip. I had one girl give me a hard time because the bar I was behind didn’t accept AmEx and she had just drank two Macallan 12 Year on the rocks ($12 a pop at that establishment) and somehow only had an AmEx (which was bullshit because I peeped at her wallet when she opened it and saw not 1, not 2 but 3 credit cards. I imagine the one she wanted to pay with had her daddy’s name on it). Obviously it was my fault that my bar didn’t accept AmEx cards and so she paid me $24 exactly – she just so happened to have cash – and made some snide remark about how if I had let her use the card she would have tipped better. I wanted to tell her to eat a dick but I refrained. It’s just that, really, I don’t make the rules, I enforce them. Don’t kill (or not compensate financially for an exchange of services that you initiated) the messenger.

And then there was the kid who got a tequila drink of some kind, paid with his card, didn’t tip a dime (and in fact wrote that amazing 0 with the line through it on the tip line) and then had the nerve to come back up to the bar and complain that his drink was weak. It’s not like there as some incident where he thought me or my coworker was being rude and wrote something along the lines of “DISRESPECT!!!” on the tip line (which happened recently and I thought it was funny because it really is disrespectful to not tip and at least this person was self-aware!). No. It wasn’t about that. It was that this dude just simply didn’t tip because it seems as though it is a thing he doesn’t do. Plain and simple. And so this is where I get confused. There aren’t guidebooks for people who grew up in the United States and have spent their lives steeped in tipping culture. I can’t be like

“Yo, mother fucker, check out the section on ‘eating and drinking’ in your Lonely Planet to see the proper way to behave.”

Although in hindsight maybe I should say that. Secretly. To my coworker. So we can giggle.

So the point is this: what is with the kids these days? Who is raising them and where? And why in the world do they simply not tip? I mean, I get it, New York is more expensive than it used to be. Drinks that used to cost $6 four years ago now cost $8. But they don’t know that because they weren’t old enough to drink four years ago. They don’t have a point of comparison. Right now is their point! And I mean, yea, I get that people don’t have money. But you want to know the thing? Neither do I. And you want to know why? Because young, white kids don’t tip.

If anyone has any insight into this particular, and very unfortunate, turn of events, feel free to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com Nice people only, please.

This is Me, Trying not to Give a Fuck About Assholes

21 Oct

I originally learned to bartend from a guy I used to date. He had just opened his own bar and had been in the game for awhile. I had done pretty much everything Front of House but bartend, save for pouring a few beers here and there. So there I was one night, having a glass of wine at his bar after coming back from a shift of my own in the West Village, when all of a sudden he got busy. I hopped back behind the bar to keep him ahead of the quickly mounting piles of dirty glasses and, while I was at it, I poured a few pints, giving him time to make all the carefully crafted cocktails he was known for. I decided right then and there that if I was going to continue in the service industry, I didn’t want to be anywhere but behind the bar. It felt safer, more in control and, dare I say it, a little bit cooler. So he started teaching me. He set me up with a speed-pourer equipped liquor bottle full of water, a jigger and a rocks glass and set me to work pouring out glass after glass of perfectly counted neat waters. He gave me a book of drink recipes and went through, X-ing out all the drinks he didn’t think I would ever have to know, and telling me to memorize the rest. He also gave me a piece of advice that I held on to, tightly, until, well, now. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that bartenders are like a community, and it is each of our responsibilities to educate people how to behave, and how to tip, so that other bartenders don’t have to deal with the crap. But today, October 21, 2014, something like 7 years after I was initially given that advice, I am calling bullshit. Not on the community thing, or the fact that in some way or another many of us are in this together — we warn other neighborhood drink slingers about dickheads and problem customers, call each other when there’s an incident, send our friends good customers when they decide to drink in another bar. I am calling bullshit on the idea that a lot of people are open to learn how to be, well, human.

Here is the thing. I have a super strict standard of behavior for myself. When I deviate from the standard, I am sent into an incredibly intense moral hangover that involves long walks, sulking, ill-fantasies, maybe some tears, apologies and, on more than one occasion, the purchasing of small (admittedly unnecessary) gifts. I really don’t like to act like an asshole. It doesn’t agree with me. And I operate under this misconceived notion that other people also don’t like acting like assholes. Or, perhaps more specifically, that they shouldn’t like acting like assholes or, even more specifically, that they actually don’t think they are acting like assholes at all. They are just being themselves. But realistically sometimes “themselves” actually just means “assholes.” Did that make sense? The point is that some people are just dicks. They are dicks and they don’t care. Well, you know what? As of today, October 21, 2014, I no longer give a fuck.

So here’s the deal. My dad once told me, and this is one of my favorite pieces of advice, that we can only have expectations of people that are in keeping with what they have previously demonstrated is possible for them. Like, if someone is a liar all the time, we can’t expect them to just randomly start telling the truth and we can’t really be that mad at them when they behave the way that they have always behaved. They are doing what they always do, I am just placing my unreasonable, in context, expectations on them. So I get to make a choice. I can either be cool with the fact that they are a liar and deal with it to whatever extent is necessary, or I can get myself all bent out of shape about it. But then who’s the chump? Me. I’m the chump all bent out of shape about an entirely predictable situation. And I don’t like being a chump just about as much as I don’t like being an asshole. So now let’s put this in conversation with bartending.

I like to think that when I go into a bar and order a drink I am pretty polite. I sit in my stool, I take out my $20 and place it on the bar (especially if I don’t know the bartender), I know what I want to drink, I wait my turn, and then I ask for my drink, book ended with pleases and thank yous. I love please and thank you. I might make friendly conversation, I might just read a magazine. I rarely, if ever, tell people I bartend unless they ask (sometimes the 20 gives it away) because to me that just reeks of asking for buybacks which is something that polite people just do not do. In the process of drinking my drink, I do not rip up my coaster or stir up shit, and when I leave I tip. Plain and simple. I like to think that I am a good bar customer more often than not. I even think that if I were serving me a drink I would like me and I might even say to myself,

“Self, that girl drinking the Powers sure is polite.”

And there are plenty of people who drink in bars that are polite. Or at least well-behaved. Or maybe they just don’t offend me in any way. But then there are lots of people who just down right suck. They also seem to travel in packs. They are rude, demanding, condescending, sexist, messy and all sorts of other things. Bartenders can smell them when they walk in the door. I don’t know what it is about these people but you just know, from first sight, or first order, that they are assholes. And in the past, I would want to let them know they were assholes, to educate them, or to prove a point, but not any more. Because you know what? That is not my job. It is not my job, or really my right, to force my own moral compass, my own standards of behavior, on other people. They want to be dicks, to a point, then fine, let them be dicks. That’s cool. They want their drink strong? “Okay,” I’ll say with a smile, and I will make it the same way I always make it. They want less ice? That’s cool, they can just get more mixer. They want to wave their glass at me, snap their fingers, flash their cell phone screen? I won’t tell them they did anything wrong, I will just send them to the back of the line. They might think I’m a bitch. They are welcome to their own opinions. Because here is the thing:  I am doing this for the foreseeable future. Maybe not forever, but for now. And the name of the game is self-preservation. And you know what makes it easier? Not letting it in. (Also, the fact that the new bar I am working at comes staffed with security. At a certain point, shitty behavior actually stops being my problem and that is a luxury I am happy to accept.)

So all you people who are awesome? Come see me! It’ll be fun. And all you people who suck? I will gladly take your money. And I’ll turn all the negative energy into creative motivation for my book. Because, yea, I’m doing that.

My #1 Fan is BACK

31 Aug

That’s right, folks.  After a months-long hiatus during which I gave my #1 Fan basically no thought whatsoever he has returned with a vengeance!  This past Thursday morning I awoke to a new comment on my blog.  Since it came at 1:53am from a person who called himself “Anti-Fail” I figured it was just spam.  I figured wrong.  I looked at the comment and discovered that, from the email address rebekahfranklifefail@yahoo.com, I had been sent the following message of support and love:

Instead of worrying about events happening halfway around the country and world, perhaps you should worry about how you came to be a 30-something year old bartender living on $2 an hour. That in and of itself is a greater travesty than ISIS or Michael Brown. Perhaps the only greater travesty is pretending that going to the New School equates to having a real actual degree. It’s like bragging about graduating from the University of Phoenix. Hahaha. Keep writing your whiny Feminazi hairy armpit gibberish. How it amuses us so.

Now, and forever…

Your Superiors

Just a little back story for those not in the know.  This message came from one of my old customers at a bar I worked at for years.  He would come into the bar 3-5 times a week and get totally hammered and act like a dick.  He called me a cunt a few times.  Some female customers complained to me about the way he aggressively hit on them.  Oh, and he asked one of my coworkers out while his fiancee was sitting like 2 stools down and, when my coworker called him out, he lied about being engaged.  And he one time snuck a bottle of vodka into the bar.  I could continue, but it’s too depressing.  This is a stand-up dude who loves and respects women.  Obviously we got along famously and I was always so happy when I heard his voice from halfway down the block while I approached work.

For those among you who might want to email this person back with some opinions of your own, don’t bother because he undoubtedly deactivated the email account immediately after sending it.  But don’t worry, we play the long game at FranklyRebekah.  As my friend just said, “I am the Scorpio here so my revenge thinking goes to total life destruction even if it takes a long time.”  Everyone loves to have a little vengeful imagination adventure, right?  So if anyone wants to plot revenge and use my #1 Fan as the target, even just for your own amusement, feel free.  He’s shareable.

Anyway, to just sort of hammer this home to you guys a little bit, the last comment I received from this person was 6 months ago.  Six.  Which means that for the past six months this wonderful man has been silently stewing, awaiting the perfect time to appear and call me a loser.  And the perfect time, it seems, was when I wrote a post about a young, unarmed black man being shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, his body then left in the street for 4 hours, which sparked a (much needed) nation-wide conversation about race in America.  Oh, and in that same post I discussed an innocent man being beheaded by ISIS.  It seems a little crazy to me that the amount of money that I make per hour should matter so much to someone who, it seems, hates me.  I mean, if anyone should care a lot about that it should be me, right?  But as it turns out, money is not particularly important to me.  Also, as it turns out, the minimum wage for tipped workers in New York state is actually $8 an hour, with bars and restaurants obligated to make up the difference if our tips don’t amount to that much.  In (legal) theory anyway.  Which I would think this person would know considering, you know, he’s a lawyer.

And as for my armpits?  I shave them.  My legs, on the other hand, are sort of touch and go.  I have sensitive skin so I’m a waxer and sometimes I just don’t feel like going all the way up to midtown.  So, I mean, if you are going to criticize my feminism you could at least be accurate and call it my “whiny Feminazi hairy leg gibberish,” ya know?  Although I do take pause at your use of the word “gibberish,” but I’ll leave it.  No need to split hairs (no pun intended).

And as for the stuff about The New School?  You’re welcome to think it sucks.  That’s fine.  It’s not like I established it or something.  But truth be told I actually learned a lot of stuff and was taught by one of the people responsible for the creation of the Human Development Index which is sort of a big deal.  Also, I made some really good friends who are awesome and supportive and also write a lot of “whiny Feminazi hairy ______ gibberish” so at least I found my people.  And, one other thing, I would imagine that the University of Phoenix is a perfectly fine school and the people that graduate from there learned things and are proud of themselves and go on to do awesome things in life, be that bartending or working in finance or becoming a nurse or whatever.  Poo-pooing someone elses education is some elitist bullshit.

So, in summation, I am actually left wondering how this person came to be a 40-something year old man who spends time at almost 2 in the morning on a Wednesday making up email addresses and sending ridiculous comments to people’s blogs.  But, you know, people make choices.  I made my choice to write and bartend and he made his choice to be a cyber bully.

Nick. monsters. dead? ask him.

9 May

So, this is funny.  Last night I had a nightmare during which my friend Nick was killed by some sort of a monster.  In my awake state, I imagine this monster as being sort of a comical creature — big, green, hairy, lots of drool — and the whole thing being more of a cartoon than anything else.  I imagine that Nick’s downfall was something like him slipping on a banana peel in the midst of his escape from the monster.  In reality, I haven’t had an actual monster nightmare since I was little and had this reoccurring dream that these aliens would come and kidnap me from the top bunk in my brother Aaron’s room.  It was a terrible dream.  I would be in Aaron’s room with him and our friend Matty, playing around.  One of them always ended up cutting their arm on something and they would both leave in search of a bandaid, leaving me all alone in the room.  The second the cut happened my dream self would start to panic; I knew what this meant.  As soon as Aaron and Matty left the room the aliens would land on the front yard in their huge spaceship and abduct me. The thing about it that made it SO horrible was that despite the fact that I absolutely knew this was going to happen, and I became very agitated and afraid and I screamed for Aaron and Matty to come back, I could not for the life of me wake myself up.  I would just have to go through it over and over and over again.  After a while I was almost afraid to go to sleep.  Those aliens were the absolute worst.

Anyway, so last night.  Last night I had this dream that my friend Nick got attacked and maybe killed by a monster.  I woke up mid-dream and scrawled the following thing on a piece of paper near my bed:

“Nick.  monsters.  dead?  ask him.”

So, I asked him and I am sure you will all be pleased to know that he is not, in fact, dead.  He was, however, less than excited about the fact that he may or may not have been killed in my dream and didn’t seem terribly flattered by the fact that my half-asleep self was worried enough about his well-being to write a note to my future awake self to ask him about it.  Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

In other news, I just saw a picture of some of my old coworkers at the bar I used to work at all grouped in front of a cork board that has always held photos and newspaper articles and the likes.  There used to be photos of me on there but I guess someone threw them in the garbage.  I can’t say I am terribly surprised but it is a very odd feeling to be completely erased from a place that you spent so much of your time.  It’s like, 5 1/2 years of my life almost didn’t happen, or people want to pretend they didn’t happen, or something.  People, as a rule, are weird.  Myself included.

Tip #13 on Being a Good Bar Customer

31 Jan

The hits just 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 done roman numerals in a long time.  But the Super Bowl is coming up and that’s basically the only time you ever see roman numerals so I figured I would get in the spirit.  Go sports.

So you guys.  We have made it all the way to 13 tips.  When I first started doing these lo these many years ago, I figured I would have five, maybe six, tips.  But no.  People just keep upping their game.  They keep fucking up, and I keep writing about it.  This might turn out to have as many tips as Sue Grafton has mystery novels.  Only time will tell.

So over the past number of years that I have worked behind the same bar, I have had this reoccurring nightmare of people walking behind the bar. It’s like, I’m there, working, and I can’t seem to get to people fast enough.  There are barely any people there and they order relatively simple things, but I just can’t seem to put them across the bar in any reasonable amount of time.  I just sort of wander around, looking for things, spilling, forgetting.  And then, they come.  One after another after another people just start filing behind the bar so I am left trying to make drinks while shooing people away.  It’s awful.  Thankfully, that has never happened in real life. Well, until a few weeks ago.

It was a normal Sunday.  I had sports on.  So, this trio came in, one girl and two guys.  The guy must have been married to the girl because he had a picture of her as the background of his debit card.  I thought that was weird and decided that if I ever get to a point in my life where I think that is a reasonable thing to do I will pack up some belongings and move into a cave for however long it takes for me to figure out exactly where everything went so horribly wrong.  The guy ordered three “beers.”

Eye roll.

I told him I wasn’t really sure what he meant by that and asked what kind of beer he generally likes.  In a surprising turn of events he decided upon the hoppiest thing we had on tap. Those beers went unfinished.  Oh well.  The reason that I give you all these seemingly inane details is that I had already kind of pegged this group as a little off.  Not that they did anything wrong, but just that I had to be prepared for the potentiality of weirdness.  I actually kind of like that.  I mean, normal, more or less predictable people are great but every once in a while it is nice to throw some weird in there.  Keep things interesting.  Anyway, it was one of those days where I had a pretty full bar but all the drinkers were really pacing themselves.  So even though I had lots of people in there, I had very little to do.  I paced.  I made awkward comments to no one in particular.  I washed a few glasses.  I received a text message!  Before responding I did a quick walk around the bar, checking to make sure everyone was sufficiently drinked (they were) and I settled down to respond to the text which was, as it turns out, hilarious.  I have a lot of funny friends.  For those who don’t know, I work in a long bar.  I think we probably have something like 24 seats at the bar?  Maybe more?  Anyway, I was standing in the middle of the bar with my back to the backdoor when all of a sudden I hear a small little “excuse me…?” and a tap, tap, tap on my shoulder.

Oh. My. God.  I froze.  I whipped around and made a face that looked like this squirrel which I know I have used before but whatever I don’t care.  I am this squirrel and no, Aaron, 2008 cannot have its meme back, it is mine.  So this woman, obviously a member of the weird crew, had walked like 10-12 feet behind the bar and what did she want?  What in the world could have been so pressing at that very moment that she couldn’t have (a) asked me for it like 30 seconds earlier when I had checked on her group, (b) waited another 30 seconds for me to walk back to where she was standing, or (c) walk on the other side of the bar, where she belonged, and say “excuse me” over the piece of wood separating us that isn’t, I have learned, a force field that disallows me from hearing what happens on the other side.  In fact, I would say that that piece of wood actually intensifies sound, making me able to hear orders from a ways away while my back is turned and I am having a conversation with someone else over my right shoulder.  What she wanted was a piece of chalk to mark down her score from darts.

…………

There she was, behind the bar waving a piece of chalk in my face and repeating the word “chalk” while she pointed at it because clearly I have no idea what chalk is.  So obviously I got mad.

Lady, waving the chalk.
Me: Get out from behind my bar.
Lady, still waving the chalk.
Me: Seriously, get the fuck out from behind my bar.
Lady, now seriously confused but still doggedly waving the chalk.
Me: This is unreal.  Under no circumstance do you ever walk behind someone’s bar.  Ever.  Get out from behind the bar.  Now.  And no, you cannot have any goddamn chalk!

I was really mad.  I felt like I was dealing with a toddler only this toddler was a little bit taller than me, really stupid, and badly in need of a writing implement.  Oh, and she was hurling pointy things through the air which, I have to tell you, did not make me feel confident in my safety.  The woman-child who, for those who have forgotten, is featured as the background of her husband’s debit card, spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out why I was so mad and why she couldn’t have any chalk.  She then went back to happily hurling things.

Oh and, by the way, she barely even touched her half pint of whatever the hell it was.  It is possible that she was on drugs or had been drinking somewhere else but I don’t know.  I have served a lot of drunk and drugged out people and they have never walked behind the bar.  I guess she could have just been stupid but I have also served a lot of stupid people and they also haven’t ever walked behind the bar.  So I don’t know.  This one is a mystery to me.  But I am happy to know that, thanks to all those nightmares over the years, I was more than prepared to handle this particular interloper.  Oh psyche, you have outdone yourself yet again.

The Day I was Visited at Work by an MRA

9 Jan

The interaction described in this blog was actually worse than I have made out here but I just don’t have the energy to be sufficiently outraged right now.  (Also at a certain point I simply quit listening.)  So this watered-down version will have to do.

Right now I have a half marathon to train for which has been difficult considering that the weather has made Tuesday, my long run day, the day that it wants to express itself through snow and rain and polar vortexes.  I also have an article to write for an online magazine thing that I have known about for months and yet only just started because I love to procrastinate.  It is due on Saturday.  And I have to work tonight until 4am and I am going to visit my aunts in the Poconos for the weekend.  Obviously, all of this means that this is the perfect time for me to write a blog.

As it turns out, the weather doesn’t only like to arrive on my long run days, it also likes to rear its ugly head during my shifts.  I was working during the recent snow storm AND the night the polar vortex…vortexed.  My bar has high ceilings and not well reinforced windows and doors, so it gets a bit nippy in there when it’s cold out and there isn’t enough body heat to warm the room (AKA when I have barely any customers).  So, my bosses, being Nice People, texted me on Monday afternoon to tell me that if it was super slow and also insanely cold I could close early.  It was both of those things and so I did but not before I had a very annoying conversation with a customer who before I could care less about but now I actually think is a dipshit.

Okay, that’s not exactly accurate.  I started thinking he was a dipshit about a month ago when my boss told me that he had pulled her aside and said that he was very upset because he drinks at the bar all the time and never gets a buyback.

……… <—- Those dots refer to what happened in my brain after she told me that.

In case you forgot about how fucked it is to ask for a buyback, I refer you to my first tip on how to properly drink in a bar.  Anyway, he went on about how he owns a business and yadda yadda yadda he is a good customer and he doesn’t really care but he just felt like he should say something.  Well, here’s the thing about that.  Dude doesn’t ever really talk to us, he’s a little snippy, he generally only has three drinks and when I buy someone a drink I generally do their fourth, and actually I HAVE given him buybacks.  At least 1/2 dozen times.  Just out of courtesy because he comes in often.  Obviously he just never noticed despite the fact that when I give buybacks I always say “I got that one for you.”  So, whatever.  He is never getting another buyback because obviously he doesn’t appreciate it.  So, resulting from that conversation I thought he was sort of a dipshit.  But then he came in on Monday feeling chatty and now I can never look at him the same.

This past Monday was the Auburn vs FSU football game for some championship or another.  Honestly, I don’t really know from football.  It involved a lot of someone passing the ball and then observers thinking one team was going to win then all of a sudden someone got the ball and ran for a really long time and TOUCHDOWN!  Anyway, after the game ended and all my other customers cleared out except for this one guy he asked me what I thought about the game.  I told him I didn’t really think much about it at all except that I had a hard time getting behind an FSU win considering Jameis Winston was the star quarterback and that watching him get interviewed on TV after the win, when he was never interviewed after he was accused of raping a classmate, made me kind of sick.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said anything.  I should have just kept my mouth shut and just said I could care less about college football.  I should have because I know all too well that there are people sneaking around among us who immediately assume that every single rape accusation against a beloved sports figure or a respected businessman/politician is clearly bullshit, or that the woman’s sexual history made a rape impossible.  Obviously the first thing that he brought up, the first thing that all fucking people bring up, is that false rape allegation against the Duke lacrosse team back in 2006.  Seriously, as if it wasn’t hard enough for women already, Crystal Gail Mangum had to go and give people a well-publicized example of how sinister women are.  When he brought that story up I was pretty sure I was in for it.  I told him that false rape accusations are incredibly rare and although I feel badly that those three lacrosse players got caught up in that whole thing and had their names smeared the result has not been for me to assume that every subsequent rape accusation I hear about is bullshit.  He then asked me if I was a feminist.  He said the word feminist as if he had just accidentally eaten his own feces.  I said that I was.  He then went into a whole long diatribe about how he thinks feminism is bullshit because he hates that women think they are equal to men and blah blah blah.  He was SO mad about the word “equal.”  So I said in my best ‘I am trying not to poke you in the eye with this drink straw’ voice,

“Listen, do I understand that men and women have different physical qualities?  Yes.  Does that mean that I don’t think that men and women should be treated equally under the law?  Should have access to the same opportunities?  Should be equally respected within society?  Should be held to the same standards of humanity?  No.  Me having a vagina and you having a penis does not mean that I should somehow be considered lesser by the law or society or anything.”

That didn’t really do the trick.  He kept spitting the word “equal” at me and making “what about the men” type comments.  I started reorganizing the napkin caddy.  Sometimes, people are so bullheaded that is just isn’t worth it.  Sometimes, you would just rather close the bar and tell your friend the new cheesy joke your dad texted you that very morning.

What does the baby computer call its father?
Data.

Happy Thursday, everyone.  Now it’s back to writing or running or procrastinating.  Here’s to hoping I don’t get anymore visits from buyback-requesting men’s rights activists.

Tip #12 on Being a Good Bar Customer

19 Dec

And we’re back, folks!  It’s amazing.  Just when I think people can’t do anything else stupid, they do!  So here it is.  The latest tip.  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, eleven.

Tip number 12 is: don’t bring your own alcohol into a bar.  I know, I know, I can’t believe I actually have to write this either but there you have it.  You are probably sitting at home, or at the office because most of you probably have like, a job that involves going to the same place and sitting in a chair 5 days a week (nothing wrong with that! Sort of jealous!) thinking to yourself, who goes into that bar, anyway?  A bunch of animals?  Well, in short, yes.  A bunch of animals.  Or, more like a bunch of reasonable people and a smattering of animals.  Anyway, this is a story about one such animal.

Yesterday, all in all, was sort of a rough day.  The guy who usually works Wednesday is off on paternity leave (where is that baby?!) so we have all been sort of filling in the gaps.  As a result, I worked yesterday.  Unbeknownst to me when I decided to cover the shift, one of my bosses had scheduled a holiday party for the early afternoon.  It wasn’t until yesterday when I arrived that I discovered that it was a party of 45 teachers.  And it wasn’t until it actually happened that I realized they would be playing trivia.  A trivia game during which it came to my attention that a good portion of the teachers involved in the game thought that a “green card” had something to do with the environment.  Suffice it to say that I was pretty much done with the day by the end of the trivia extravaganza but sadly I still had 4 hours left.  At that very moment, as if they had been sent by Satan himself, in walked a massive pain in my ass.  This guy is like torture for any bartender.  He refuses to part cards down, feeling entitled to having a tab run because he come in often, yet he always walks on his tabs.  Always.  So you end up having to chase him throughout the bar after each drink you serve him otherwise risk getting stiffed.  He orders the same drinks over and over yet never remembers the price.  He tips poorly and expects buybacks.  He chants.  He always, always chants.  And you have to constantly watch him lest he torture some unsuspecting female bar-goer with his close talking and inappropriate comments.  He is the pits. We don’t actually see him all that often because he is in a serious relationship but yesterday, following an office party, he decided to grace us (read: me) with their presence.  Oh, blessed day.

He only ordered one drink from me, a Bulleit Rye, and yet was continuously seen walking around the bar with a rocks glass full of some clear liquid.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, thinking that perhaps there as a very very off chance that he was simply drinking water, but didn’t want his friends to think he was weak.  But then all his drunken tells started emerging:  the loud talking, the chanting, the close-talking, the thinking he is the best person and savior of everyone.  So I asked my friend/boss/coworker Sasha to investigate the situation.  She walked passed him and asked him what he was drinking to which he replied “water,” then subsequently slammed the rest of the glass (like 2 shots worth) and slapped it down on the bar.  So I, since sometimes I fancy myself a PI, sniffed the glass and, lo and behold, VODKA!  What a shocker.  I decided to confront the situation for the following three reasons: (1) I was PMSing, I had cramps, my boobs hurt and I was therefore in no mood; (2) if there were a store in the mall called “Build a Drunk” where you could build your worst idea of a drunken person, he would be one of the models I would build and since I wasn’t making any money off him I really did not want to deal with his volume and obnoxiousness; and (3) I have rules and he broke one of them, flagrantly.  So, obviously, I marched myself over to him, held the glass up near his nose and said,

“What does that smell like to you?”

He then told me it was his friend’s.  (This friend, by the way, was all but passed-out in the corner, having been over self-served at the office party they were all at before walking into my bar.) The conversation continued, him slurring and yelling, me talking in a normal, sober voice level:

Build-a-Drunk: Would I ever do that to you?
Me: Um…clearly.
Build-a-Drunk: How much money have I spent in this bar over the years and you are going to accuse me of bringing drinks in?  Why would I even do that?
Me:  I don’t know, why would you?

I then walked back behind the bar at which point he pulled out a HUGE wad of cash and attempted to by a drink, while simultaneously asking me when he had ever been a bad customer.  I started listing off examples, beginning with that time that he brought vodka into the bar and got shit-tanked.  Remember that?  Then there was the time he fell of his stool, and the other time he fell off his stool, the time he knocked over a whole bunch of drinks, the time he called me a bitch for telling him to back off a lady who had mouthed the word “help” to me, the time he apologized for calling me a bitch by actually blaming it on me while using his tendency to tower over women while explaining shit to them to corner me behind the bar. I have more, but I’ll stop.  Anyway, he called me a bitch again.  And gave me the stinkeye.  Twice.  But whatever, I just won’t serve him anymore since clearly he is quite adept at serving himself.  The only thing I feel sad about is that he has a daughter.  This man with ZERO respect for women raising a little girl.  I hope she spends more time at her mom’s house.

So wait, what was the point of this post?  Oh yea, don’t be like Build-a-Drunk and bring your own booze.  I don’t work in a BYO joint.

This is Not a Tip. This is a Story About an Asshole.

26 Nov

Today I am writing my blog from my parent’s house.  Happy Franksgiving week, everyone!

Generally speaking when I write blogs about people, I either don’t know their names or else I change them to save them from embarrassment.  This is the kind of person that I am.  Following the events of this past Thursday, however, I have decided that I am not vindictive enough and that this is a character trait that I must try and develop.  If people act like assholes, after all, they should be called out and called out by (first) name!  (Clearly I am in the very early stages of vindictive-development.)  Also, this dude was such an incredible shithead that I think I would be doing the world a disservice by not calling him out.  So, here goes.  Let us all hope that he doesn’t sue me for libel* (he’s a lawyer, god help us all).

So, you guys, sometimes working behind the bar really blows.  It sucks when you have gotten dumped only days previously and you have to keep running down to the basement to cry in secret.  It sucks when you have a fever.  And it REALLY sucks when some asshole smears his own shit all over the walls of the men’s room.  Worse than all that, though (well, maybe not worse than the shit on the walls but I think that was a once in a lifetime experience), is when someone who has previously been 86’ed walks in and you can tell they are not going to leave without a fight.

As a first little piece of advice here, and I am pretty sure I have mentioned this somewhere before, if you have been asked to never return to a bar, you should probably just never return there.  I mean, why in the world would you?  Seriously, if I was ever kicked out of a bar I would make it my business to never even walk on the same block as the bar.  No, I probably wouldn’t even walk within 3 blocks!  I would be so ashamed that an entire neighborhood would be completely off-limits due to my own obnoxiousness.  But some people just don’t have that same decency or self-respect.  Some people think that they are entitled to go anywhere they damn please and if they scream loud enough then other people will understand their logic and acquiesce.  Only in most places of reason and normalcy, that doesn’t actually work.  Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes the bar in which I work is a place of reason and normalcy.  It was such a place last Thursday when this guy Mike walked in and assumed he would have his way.  He assumed wrong.

So there me and my friend were, behind the bar, when we saw him walk in.  After some talk, I decided I would break one of my rules by leaving the safety of the bar and talking to him face-to-face.  My only other option was to yell to him from behind the bar because he was standing a ways away, thereby drawing everyone into the drama and making it significantly worse.  So, I calmly walked over to him and then…

Me: Mike, you can’t be in here.  And you can’t have that drink.  If you want to come in tomorrow and speak with the owners, you are more than welcome to do that but as of now you are not allowed to be in here.

At this point, this lovely gentleman made a gun using his thumb and forefinger, held it up to my forehead and pretended to shoot me.

Me:  Okay, well, that is on camera so now any chance you ever had of being let back in here is gone.

Then the yelling began.  He asked me if I was the “enforcer.”  Admittedly, this is a funny question because I am like 5’4″, 115 pounds and he is, from my perspective, kind of huge.  At least 1.5 times my size.  But this underscores for you non-industry readers what it is like being a bartender, and a female one at that.  A lot of the times the people you get into it with could overpower you no questions asked.  Hence why it is always smarter to stay behind the damn bar (stupid Rebekah, stupid!).  Anyway, I (with a slight giggle) told him I was the enforcer.  Then he started calling me a slave.  Apparently not serving him meant that I no longer had any agency whatsoever.  And then all of a sudden I was a bitch and a whore.  Oh, and somewhere in there  I was also useless.  Can’t forget useless.  At some point after being called a bitch, after his girlfriend slapped me in the arm and before Mike threw money at me, my co-worker and I did sort of an asshole hand-off.  I walked behind the bar, she threatened to call the cops but actually just called our boss who lives upstairs, and then she went out to deal with him.  He recycled all his favorite epithets on her, “slave” being his favorite.  At some point he crumpled up a $20 bill and threw it at my face.  I really hate when people do that.  Like, REALLY.  Honestly, if he had never thrown the money at me I probably wouldn’t ever have written this blog but that is just so incredibly disrespectful and demeaning that I can hardly stand it.  I mean, who does that?  You know what?  I do work for money.  But do you know who else works for money?  You guessed it, lawyers!  But you don’t see me going into a court room and throwing money at him.  No, sir.

This went on for quite some time.  At some point I remember standing behind the bar, him yelling all kinds of insulting things and me simply saying, “well, you’re welcome to your own opinion.”  I truly believe that.  He is welcome to it.  Only, his opinion is wrong.  But whatever.  No point in splitting hairs over it. Eventually, after much yelling, he left.  I was happy he left because it meant I didn’t have to deal with him anymore but I was sad he left without handcuffs on his wrists. 

Later I found out this is like a normal thing for him.  He just gets shitcanned and picks fights with people and then his booze-induced selective memory allows him to think that none of it was his fault.  But at some point, you would think that he would realize that the amount of altercations he gets into is because of him and not because of every other person in the entire world.  I was trying to explain this to someone and in doing so I said “well, one of these days he is going to pull this shit on the wrong person” to which this guy responded, interestingly, “I think maybe he’s the wrong person.”  That got me thinking.  Maybe he IS the wrong person.  How sad would it be to wake up one day and realize that you are that theoretical ‘wrong person’ everyone is always warning people they might one day meet?  That person has no friends and eventually dies alone in a tiny apartment somewhere and has his face chewed off by his dog because no one notices for days that he’s dead and the dog is hungry.  Poor dog.

Anyway, all that happened before 10pm.  I had to work until 4.  I was not my normal, sunny self.  Good thing I didn’t learn until a few days later about the other customer who decided to call me a cunt because I didn’t want to hear her gloating about keeping Mike out of jail.  (For the record, I am sad he was not led out in handcuffs and will continue to feel that way.)  Ah, the bar business.  Good times.

(By the way, any neighborhood bartenders who want to know this guy’s full name because I know for a fact that he frequents a few of your establishments, — Kris, I’m looking at you! — I am more than happy to oblige.  Part of achieving my goal of vindictiveness is  coincidentally paralleled with my goal of warning others of inevitable volcanic eruptions at their places of employment.)

*As far as I understand it, one can only sue for libel if the the information being shared is an untruth that will do that person harm.  This story is a truth and I don’t think anyone in a position of power reads this blog so I’m pretty sure any real harm is out of the equation.  Safe?

Tip #11 on Being a Good Bar Customer

8 Nov

Okay, so, I know I just did this but when 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 friends.  Or if you like to judge badly behaving people.  Or if you just think it’s funny.  Or not at all.  Whatever.  I’m not the boss of you.

So at this point some of you are probably all “this girl hates people and bartending and maybe she should just get a new job.”  You can feel free to think that.  Personally, I think I am doing a public service on behalf of all the other drink slingers who are annoyed by poorly mannered patrons.  I am also a firm believer that when someone is acting like an asshat, the rest of us can feel free to judge them, and even have a few laughs at their expense, without feeling bad about it.  So, without further ado, another bit of free advice from yours truly.  Unless of course you’d like to pay me.  In which case, yes please can you email me immediately?!

So I am not a person who really likes to be touched.  When everyone else is hugging and cheek-kissing and all that stuff, I have my arm outstretched in front of my body and my hand furiously moving about in an enthusiastic wave.  I find that if I approach it this way, I am able to create a friendly barrier.  It’s like, yea, I like you, I will happily interact with you, but only when you are at least 2 feet away from me.  The outstretched arm is sort of like the enforcer of my invisible force field.  And that is with people I know.  If I don’t know you, don’t touch me.  Seriously.  I will curl myself into the smallest possible version of myself in all public circumstances in order to avoid any inadvertent bodily contact.  I am not a hand holder, not a snuggler, not a fan of massages. So now that I have scared all my friends and have them all thinking

“oh my god I think I maybe gave her a hug once?  Does she hate me?!”

I will continue with the tip.  But only after I say this: it’s cool, friends, you can hug me.  You’ve passed the test.  Whatever that means.

So, the tip. I am aware that I am especially weird about touching, but I think I can speak for bartenders the world over when I say to you: do not touch your bartender.  Seriously.  Remember that lesson you learned in pre-school?  You know, use your words?  That also applies to ordering drinks.  You have a voice.  We have ears.  Let’s make this work.  So last night, when I was in the middle of a short conversation, one of my customers reached over the bar and poked me in the arm.  He had been standing at the bar waiting for me for approximately 15 seconds.  I know this because I saw him walk over, looked at him and smiled in the “I’ll be with you in a second” sort of a way. And then, because apparently waiting is so incredibly difficult especially when you have probably already had too many drinks, he poked me.  In the arm.  With his stupid index finger.  I would not wish the glare I gave him on my worst enemy.

So maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to some of you but it really is.  Being behind the bar is like being in a safe zone.  As bartenders, we are protected by the expansive piece of wood that separates us from the clientele.  Just imagine when you look at the bar that there is this invisible wall through which sound passes, through which drinks and currency pass, but through which your hands cannot travel.  Just because we are giving you drinks and laughing at your jokes does not make us public property.  We do not belong to you.

Okay, so, imagine that you are like, a computer tech person.  You are one of those people that answers phone calls from people like me.  People who know nothing about technology and need all the help all the time for the stupidest things.  And let’s say that I have called you and I am on hold while you are trying to help some other technologically-challenged person.  But let’s just say, for the sake of this tip, that I got impatient and I possessed the power, just like in the cartoons, to reach my hand through the phone and poke you on the arm to get your attention.  That would be shocking, right?  And not just because I had achieved a feat that previously seemed impossible. It would also be shocking because you’d be like,

“here I am, sitting at my desk doing my job and that asshole just reached through the phone and poked me on the shoulder!  With her stupid index finger!”

And you know what?  Your reaction would be absolutely justified because I should keep my hands to myself.  So just think about it this way.  The bar, it is like my desk.  You are the technologically-challenged person on the other end of the phone.  The space in between us is sort of like a phone cord.  Imagine that it is impossible for you to touch me.  Because here’s the thing.  I know that you are at the bar with your friends having fun, but that doesn’t make it any less of a job for me.  I am not your drinking buddy.  I am helping you fill a need.  The need for more alcohol.  It is, although it might not seem this way to you, a professional interaction.  I am a professional.  And you don’t touch professionals.