Tag Archives: bartending tips

Tip #22 on Being a Good Bar Customer

24 Dec

Aaaaaaand we’re back. You know, you would think after over a decade behind the stick I would stop being absolutely amazed by people’s behavior. But, you would be wrong. I think one of the things about being a bartender that is great is that I get to meet so many interesting people. People who have had all kinds of jobs, lived all kinds of places, loved all kinds of people. Aside from deciding if they are of legal age, you really don’t screen who walks into your bar and you don’t – aside from a libation or two – know what they are looking for. Are they meeting a friend? Are they looking to get out of the house for a bit? Needing a little quiet time? Wanting to see a familiar face or two? Do they want to talk to me or just sit, scrolling endlessly through their phone? It’s all fine, really. As long as they are reasonably polite which, to be fair, the vast majority of people are. But there are some (as is evidenced through my now 22 tips for how not to behave poorly in a bar) who just…don’t know how to live in a world with other people. They don’t know how to abide by the rules of a private business. This is a story about a few of those people.

I work in a few places, one of which does not permit strollers in the bar. This is not because we, as an institution, hate children. We actually allow children. Just not their rolling means of conveyance. Why? Because those fuckers take up A TON of space. You get 4-5 strollers in a place and you lose a ton of real estate and, with that, the potential for a lot of business. And you know strollers are like ants, where there is one another one (or 5) is never too far behind. That is not good for my pocket and it’s not good for the place I work. So, we don’t let ’em in. Period. There’s even a sign on the door. It says

NO STROLLERS. THANK YOU.

I bet you know where this is going.

Here’s the thing. Most people are cool about it. Most people, when they hear the phrase

Excuse me? I am so sorry but we actually don’t allow strollers in the bar.

Will either offer to leave their strollers outside on the avenue – totally cool with me – or shrug their shoulders and say

No problem. See you next time.

No harm no foul. But there are always a few who just will not hear it. They try to argue that no, they don’t plan to be in the bar, they plan to sit outside in the patio on a beautiful spring day. A place where basically every single other person also wants to be sitting (hence the no stroller policy). Or they will just fold it up small, and insist I won’t even know it’s there! Or they try to turn it into a bag? And in the process spew all the baby accoutrement that can no longer fit inside the stroller-turned-bag and instead it occupies the surface of like 3 additional tables. Which is not that much better than having an open stroller in the room. As it turns out, babies need a lot of things.

Over the past year or so, I have had disagreements with five people who just couldn’t grasp the no-stroller policy. And like, come on, I am the bartender. I work there. I don’t own it. I don’t make the rules. I just enforce them because if I don’t enforce them and my boss walks in and sees a whole mess of strollers do you know who he (rightfully) says something to? Me. Not you. Me. Because I am the keeper of the rules and it is my job to make sure that people abide by them. So it’s like give me a break! When I politely inform you that we don’t permit strollers, please don’t do or say the following things, all of which have been done or said to me:

  1. After I tell you I don’t allow strollers, please don’t then ask me if we permit smoking outside and then, when I answer in the affirmative, please don’t tell me that “smokings kills people, strollers don’t” while you storm out (although that was hilarious)
  2. Don’t instruct your stroller-pushing partner that “you’ve got this” when you walk into the bar full well knowing we don’t allow strollers, thinking you can bully the short girl behind the counter. Also, when I continually inform you that we don’t permit strollers anywhere in the bar, don’t first tell me I am the “hostess” and I should do what you need and then don’t call me a servant before storming out. Not a good look.
  3. On your way out the door after I tell you, again politely, we don’t allow strollers, don’t gesture around the empty bar which I had opened 5 minutes earlier and snarkily say “I guess you don’t allow customers, either.” Because being rude for no reason doesn’t help anyone. It just make you look like an ass.
  4. Don’t put your stroller into an actual bag and then try to tell me and my coworker that it is not a stroller at all but is, in fact, a backpack.
  5. When I have told you immediately upon entering that we don’t allow strollers, please don’t stand around inside and text for 15 minutes with your stroller blocking the entrance way, then when your friends arrive take all the items out of your stroller and try to fold it up (still not allowed), and then blame me about how you have to leave your stroller outside in the rain. That’s not on me. This is not a situation where you ask for forgiveness later. Just don’t do it.

Listen, I know people with kids want to go out and have drinks with their friends. And they should! Parents are people, too. They are now just people who come with other, smaller people. You can even bring your kid to the bar (as long as you don’t allow them to run around, throw things, and scream). Basically, just be a parent the same as always. Meaning, continue to parent. Having a beer in your hand does not mean all your parental responsibilities are gone unless you have left your kids with a sitter (who you are paying a reasonable hourly wage). In that case, have at it! But either way, leave your stroller at home! There’s no excuse really. They now have all sorts of baby backpacks, baby wrap things, baby front-of-the-body-carrying things. All those things are great! Bring those things! Just don’t bring the strollers. Or the attitude. Although to be fair there isn’t a sign on the door banning that.

Tip #21 on Being a Good Bar Customer

28 Mar

Wow you guys. I haven’t written one of these since this one back in August of 2016, and that one included positive reinforcement. I know they were a popular part of my blog, but almost getting fired over writing them sort of took the shine off the whole thing, you know? Well, whatever. That was then and this is now. And I still don’t actually think I did anything wrong, as long as you don’t consider hurting the feelings of a couple of arrogant, misogynist assholes “something wrong.” I certainly don’t. So, that being said, let us continue.

So this post is a lot less about someone actually doing something awful and a lot more about one of my biggest pet peeves as a bartender. And it’s not just me! I did a (very limited) survey of some of the bartenders that I know and discovered that this is a pet peeve shared by all two of them! So I will extrapolate this data and apply it to all other bartenders and voila! I declare this pet peeve universally held. What is the pet peeve, you may ask? Let me tell you a little story.

So there I am, behind the bar. A new customer walks in. I greet him with a peppy(ish)

Hey! How are you?

as I reach over, grab a coaster and toss it in front of him. He replies that he is okay, takes his phone out of his pocket, puts it down, takes his seat and orders his drink. I make the drink, engaging in polite conversation as I do it. But then when I return to his seat and make a move to put his drink on the coaster that I have placed in front of him in preparation for this exact moment I realize it’s gone. But I swear that I put it there. I always put down a coaster. That’s part of the whole steps of service thing that I am so accustomed to. So where could it be? And then I see it: his phone. He has put it on the coaster. And I am immediately reminded of the hundreds and hundreds of times this exact scenario has played itself out over the past decade and change during which I have occupied space behind the stick.

And I am left wondering, why? Why do people do this? Do they have coasters on their coffee tables that they use as resting places for their phones while they watch TV, placing their beer or whisky on the rocks directly on the wood, potentially leaving a ring? Do they always have two coasters present, one for the phone and one for the drink, just so that their phone doesn’t some how feel less welcome? Do they enjoy constantly wiping up small puddles of condensation that has accumulated on their surfaces? Is this just a small expression of their concern for the environment, and their worry of our ever-expanding landfills and its effects on the planet that we call home? Am I missing something?

I am also left standing there with a prepared drink and no pre-placed (and available) coaster upon which to place it. What is a bartender to do? Well, there are a number of different possible next steps.

  1. Shrug your shoulders and place the drink directly on the bar;
  2. Grab a new coaster, toss it either casually or angrily next to the original coaster (this is entirely dependent on the bartender’s mood and/or the number of times she has faced this exact same scenario that shift), and place the drink atop its new throne;
  3. Reach down, grab the phone (AKA coaster stealer), move it and then place the drink down on the original coaster all while making eye contact with the customer;
  4. Place the drink on top of the phone which has now become the de facto coaster after its successful ouster of the previous coaster which was not fairly elected in the first place.

Personally, I oscillate between options 2 and 3. They are direct and instructive (two things I love being!) all without putting myself at risk of an accusation of destruction of property even though, really, putting your phone on the bar is pretty dumb.* One of the two people I surveyed for this post recently made use of option 4 and told me that although it didn’t go over that well in the moment (PSA: no phone was harmed in the placing of the drink) it is pretty funny in hindsight. He doesn’t, however, recommend that particular course of action for the faint of heart. So, I don’t know, maybe I will leave that for the blessed day that I work my last ever bartending shift. Which will probably never happen. Whatever, a girl can dream.

And, while I’m dreaming, you can journey around my blog and read all the previous tip as well as all the other random shit I write about. It’ll be fun (and sometimes infuriating). But mostly fun. I swear.

*I do it all the time.

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.