Tag Archives: customers

Rebekah… Shalom.

5 Nov

So one of the things about tending bar (that rejiggering of words is for you and your hoity-toity preferences, Ben) is that you have to deal with The Public.  Tending bar is not the only profession in which this is the case, obviously.  I could work for the Department of Motor Vehicles, say.  Or I could work in a retail store, as a police officer, or perhaps be a park ranger.  Although in some of these other professions I might be forced to deal with The Public while they are under the influence on occasion, as a provider of liquor the odds of my dealing with slightly to majorly intoxicated people increases exponentially.  It just goes along with the territory.  Sometimes, this is both horrifying and funny, like the time that I was accused by a legitimately crazy man of stealing his Budweiser when I confiscated it after he attempted to drink it on Atlantic Avenue right in front of my bar while mounting his bicycle.  Other times, I am threatened with violence like the time this really small lady attempted to punch me over the bar after drinking her weight in Brooklyn Lager.  And occasionally, it results in me attempting to break up a Fireman brawl by dousing them all with water and the only result is confused/angry Firemen and a soaked coworker.  When I walk into work I never know what sort of events the day might bring.  What I do know is that I will have to, at some point, deal with some incredibly annoying people.  And that is where this story begins.

As a quick aside let me just say that most of my customers are really great.  They teach me all kinds of things.  They make me laugh.  They gossip with me about the neighborhood staples.  They ask me, over and over again, what I plan on doing with me recently acquired degree.  (The answer, still, is that I will do something…eventually.  Just as soon as I figure out what that something is.  I’m fairly convinced that I’ll know it when I see it.)  Sometimes, they even become my real life friends.  Some of my customers, though, are really hard to deal with.  I don’t know if they are really lonely or if they don’t understand what the word “interesting” means or if maybe they make a sport out of seeing how many times they can make me raise my left eyebrow or cause my eyes to glaze over due to complete and total boredom.  I mean, these people are skilled.  There is one person in particular who fits this mold.  I will call him Tim.

This is a customer who has annoyed me late night pretty consistently for at least 2 years.  He turns up right when I think I’m safe.  Sometimes he’s alone, sometimes he brings in people who are way too drunk for me to serve and then he tries to secretly buy them drinks.  Other times he stands in the corner for prolonged periods of time and weeps.  (Okay, that only happened once but it was very bizarre.)  What he always does, every time, is talk a lot and say very, very little.  On a recent evening he came into the bar and asked me literally a half a dozen times in a 10 minute period what was new.  Finally I got frustrated and said to him,

Nothing.  Nothing is new.  So if you want to ask me again in the future what is new, I would like you to refer back to my previous responses of nothing.  Save us both some time.

Then something amazing happened.  For the first time ever in the history of me and Tim interacting on any level whatsoever, he took the hint.  He realized he was annoying me.  It was a revelation.  He gave me a big, final-seeming salute and marched his way out the door never to be seen again.  Or so I thought.

The following night, much to my dismay, Tim was back!  My coworker and I were absolutely shocked by this unexpected turn of events. I approached him and asked him if he wanted a beer.  He ordered a Heineken.  And then the following interaction occurred:

Tim, while staring at me with a very odd expression: I was told today that you are a member of The Tribe.

After a pause of about 30 seconds in which I stared back at Tim with my head cocked to the side in confusion sort of like a small puppy he continued.

Tim:  Do you know what I mean when I say you are a member of The Tribe?
Me:  Yes.  I am just trying to figure out under what circumstances my religion would come up in conversation.
Tim: No, it’s good.  You know what? I have never met a Jewish bartender before!  This is just great!  I mean, this is breaking down barriers!
Me:  Um…? I’m sorry.  You’ve never met…
Tim: You know, I went into a bar nearby and tried to get a job and they wouldn’t hire me.
Me:  I don’t think that had anything to do with the fact that you are Jewish (I wanted to add that I could think of a few other reasons but I thought that unnecessarily rude.)

At this moment, thankfully, some other customers came in and I was able to abandon my conversation with Tim and go about my evening.  Eventually, seeing that we weren’t going to discuss the Torah or sing the Hava Nagila, Tim went on his way to, I can only imagine, torment some other non-Jewish bartender in close proximity.

Fast forward about 2 hours.

The owner of a nearby bar (and a friend and occasional blog reader and commenter under the assumed email “OBTampons”) walked in, sat at the bar, ordered a Bud Lite and decided to unload his guilt.

OB Tampons: I think I might have done something wrong.  I told Tim you were Jewish

Well, at least the mystery was solved.  After a bit of verbal berating I decided to just accept my lot in life.  I was stuck with Tim.  I would just have to deal with the unavoidable face-melting at some point every single Thursday night for the rest of the foreseeable future.  But the thing was that on this particular week I was working two night shifts in a row.  And wouldn’t you know it, the next night at 9:30pm, a little earlier than usual, in walked Tim. He ordered a Heineken from my coworker (but not until she checked with me to make sure I serve him because “he seemed like a person I wouldn’t serve..” She clearly knows me too well).  I walked over a few minutes later to check and see if he needed something else and he looked at me, with a very serious expression and said,

Rebekah…Shalom.

He promptly walked out into the night.  My life.  Sometimes it is just too much.

Tip # 9 on Being a Good Bar Customer

8 Aug

And we’re back with more tips, folks!  If you 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 bar customer friends in a not-so-subtle way, please do!  Let the missteps of others inform our future booze establishment behavior. And now, without further ado, how not to behave if you get 86ed from a bar.

If you end up getting 86ed from a bar, AKA you are never ever allowed to set foot in there ever again, probably you should just never ever set foot in there again.  Obviously, I would advise you all to never behave in such a way as to get yourself 86ed, but if you do, have some pride.  I don’t know much about other cities in the world, but New York City has a lot of bars.  A lot.  There are bars everywhere.  It is easier to get a drink in this city than it is to do a lot of other things that normal people do in their day.  Here are some examples: it is easier to get a drink than mail a letter because there are basically no mailboxes; it is easier to get a drink than to find a public restroom because there are basically no public restrooms; it is easier to get a drink than go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the hardware store because, at least in my neighborhood, you pass at least 8 bars en route to almost any of these other destinations.  The point of this is that if you get 86ed from one bar, there are plenty of other bars you can go to unless, of course, you have gotten 86ed from all of them which is a problem I am not prepared to deal with at this time.  If you have been 86ed from All Of The Bars Ever you should probably talk to someone.

Some people who have been 86ed from my bar get it.  This doesn’t mean that they like it, but they understand that once they are refused service for acting like an asshole, they probably should not show their faces there again.  The thing about the people that get it is that generally, in their case, acting up to such a degree as to get kicked out was such an aberration for them that they are ashamed and take a pretty severe detour around the bar whenever they are in the vicinity so as not to have to relive their embarrassment.  Then there are the people who misbehave, get 86ed, and insist on walking by the bar on the regular, peering in the window and mean-mugging.  No joke.  I can think of two solid examples of this type of person: this one guy who online stalked one of my coworkers and the woman who tried to beat me up over the bar.  It’s as if they think that if they stare at the bar often enough, they will put some sort of hex on the bar and either we will go out of business or we all will suddenly be struck by strange cases of amnesia and will forget ever having 86ed them in the first place and they can happily go back to online stalking and bartender threatening.  Finally, there are the people who have been definitively 86ed from the bar and yet continuously try to come back in.  Today I am going to talk about a few of these people but not all of them because, sadly, there are just too damn many of them for one post.

Sometimes you have a really annoying customer who you hate and you really wish that he (I am just going to go with ‘he’ here because statistics!) would do something that would allow you to kick him out for good.  But no.  He walks ever so close to the line without ever crossing it.  He comes in on drugs.  He does not understand the volume of his own voice or that he is incredibly annoying.  He seems to think that “paying for drinks” is a new phenomenon that simply does not apply to him.  He spills his drinks so much that I am forced to erect safety barriers out of coasters.  Sometimes (okay, one time but I like to think it happened over and over again because it is just so damn funny) he tries to sit on a garbage can and the lid breaks and he falls into the garbage can with his legs and arms sticking out of the top of it and everyone leaves him in there for a little while because they are laughing too hard to pull him out.  Anyway, this guy gave me such a headache but there was nothing I could do about it.  I had to serve him.  But then, one day, he got super wasted, somehow got himself buzzed into my coworker’s apartment building, and proceeded to walk up and down the stairs yelling and knocking on every available door in hopes that she would open hers up.  She didn’t.  This went on for over and hour.  He started at 4:15am.  He subsequently got 86ed from the bar.  That was at least 6 months ago.  And still, all these months later, he regularly tries to get back into the bar.  His most recent attempt came at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I was behind the bar, as I generally am at that time, when he walked in.  The second I saw him I started shaking my head no.  He looked back at me with an expression of complete bewilderment. Then he said, “is she here?” referring to the victim of his late night stair climbing rampage. She was, in fact, there.  Before I got a chance to say “it doesn’t really matter if she is here or not, you are not welcome to drink here” my coworker came flying down the bar, finger wagging, sternly repeating “no!” He began to argue, realized there was no point, tried to look defiant and walked out the door.  I doubt this is the last we will see of him.  But here’s the thing.  He isn’t like, an awful guy.  He just can’t drink. He crossed the line.  He followed someone to her home.  It could just be over but no.  He has to continually make our jobs harder and also make himself look like a complete asshole by repeatedly trying to sneak one by us.  Guess what?  We are not stupid.  Also, if you really need your fix of Raspberry Stoli, I am pretty sure I can point you in the direction of a bar that has some.  Basically, in any direction because there are so many bars.

A few days later on a really weird Thursday night (I think there was probably a full moon…there had to have been a full moon) this other annoying guy walked in.  He is another one of those guys that I am just itching to get rid of but he hasn’t done anything bad enough.  Yet.  He always walks in with the worst people because shitty people, I have found, tend to either be complete loners or travel in packs.  They don’t tend to go around with people who are cool.  Anyway, one of the women he walked in with was too drunk for me to serve.  She couldn’t put her elbow on the bar without it sliding off, causing her to almost fall forward off her chair.  She also would not speak to me without having her hand over her mouth, thereby making her thickly slurred speech that much more difficult to understand.  I was so busy arguing with her about how I would not serve her another drink (why does this happen?) that I didn’t even notice that the guy next to her was someone who we kicked out about a year earlier for screaming at one of the owners when she refused to give him another drink because he had already had something like 12 Bud Lights in an hour and could not hold his head up.  And yet he could scream.  Go figure.  Anyway, in the midst of explaining to elbow lady, for the 5th time, that no, she could not have a beer, I noticed that the guy sitting next to her was Angry Bud Lite Guy.  I told him that not only could he also not have a drink, but he was actually not allowed in the bar.  He then started yelling about how he didn’t want a drink and how he hated the bar anyway and would never actually go there.  I pointed out the flaw which was that he was, at that very moment, in the bar.  This did not go over well.  Anyway, yadda, yadda, yadda, he yelled, I stared at him, he yelled, I threatened to call the police, he yelled some more, then one of our other customers who is SO BIG walked over and sat next to do the dude, causing him to immediately flee the scene. (Sometimes bigger is better, it turns out.) But that’s not all!  Angry Bud Lite Guy then pulled his favorite party trick:  call the bar over and over and over again for the rest of the night, asking for the manager every time he calls even though he is already talking to her and complain about how he never misbehaved in the bar, how he never yells (while yelling) and that we are all stupid.  Again, if you want a Bud Lite, go somewhere else.  Seriously.  Keep your drama to yourself and let me do my damn job.  Staying up until 5am sucks enough without your spit landing all over my face while you yell at me about how you never yell.

So, yea, probably don’t get 86ed but if you happen to, just stay away.  We don’t forget.  Also, as I said before, have some damn pride.

Tip #8 on Being a Good Bar Customer

17 Jul

And the customer education mission continues!  Be sure 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.  Share.

So I work in a bar that has 15 taps, which these days isn’t really anything to write home about, and a lot of brown liquor.  A lot.  There are so many choices. So many fun and interesting things to try.  So many possibilities.  So I get it, it can be sort of hard to figure out what you might want to drink.  So please, take your time and consider your options but keep this in mind:  choosing what drink to purchase is not like buying a car, it is not like picking a college, it is not like deciding on a career.  Those things will impact your life well beyond the making of the decision whereas choosing a drink really only makes a difference during the drinking of the drink itself.  It might be unpleasant to drink a beer you don’t like but you know what?  I get it.  Sometimes things are yucky.  Be cool.  I will hear your complaint, pour the offending drink out, serve you a new one and you know what?  If you’re nice during the whole interaction and don’t act as if I purposely mixed some foul tasting substance in with your beer specifically to fuck with you I won’t even charge you for it.  Isn’t that great? You know what will not get you a new drink?  Acting like an asshole like this girl did this past Saturday.  Let me explain.

So this past Saturday around 4:30 PM, give or take, a couple walked in and sat at a hightop.  They made no move towards the bar so after a few minutes I politely informed them that there was no table service and that they would have to come place their order at the bar.  Upon hearing this they did what people often do when I give them this information: they gave me nasty looks and acted as if they already knew there was no table service which I knew to be a complete lie because from the second they walked in the door and took their seats they were looking at me expectantly.  Whatever.  Some people just can’t be wrong.  No matter.  About a minute later the female half of the couple came up to the bar and ordered the champagne cocktail I had specialed for the day (I’ve been trying to use up that damn cassis for like, 4 years) and a rum and coke.  I made the drinks, she paid me and took them back to their table and we all carried on happily with our day.  Or so I thought.

About 1/2 hour later the girl comes back up to the bar with a completely untouched rum and coke and says to me, in one of the snottier tones I remember hearing recently (and this after I complimented her on her sandals!),

“Um…what did you make this with?”
Me: “The rum and coke?  Well…with rum? And coke?”
Snotface: “No, what kind of rum?  He says he can’t drink it.”
Me, upon lifting up the bottle of Rico Bay rum: “The well rum.  In any bar you go to if you order a ‘rum and coke’ that is what you will get.”
Snotface, in her best ever imitation of a small, bratty child: “Not any bar.”

I took a moment to calm myself and think about what bars she might frequent that don’t use well rums in their rum and coke. I thought maybe he had a very discerning palate and perhaps he just didn’t like our delicious Rico Bay.  Then I thought that was unlikely because he ordered a rum and coke.  Then I thought maybe they usually go to fancy bars that use call liquor like Bacardi for their well. I mean, her sandals were really nice so it was possible.  I decided it didn’t matter.  So I asked her, trying to do my best imitation of someone who thinks the person she is talking to is a complete bitch,

“Well, what kind of rum would you like, then?”

She turns to her companion to see what he would like and you know what he said? Cuervo.  I looked around the bar to see if anyone else was hearing this because it was hilarious.  She then turned back to me and, in a completely serious tone, repeated,

“He wants Cuervo.”
Me: “Um…tequila?  He wants tequila and coke?”
Snotface: “No, he wants rum and coke.”
Me: “That’s great except that Jose Cuervo is a tequila so I don’t really know what you want me to do here.”

Her companion then started hysterically laughing.  I guess he wasn’t such a bad guy.  Wish he would have ordered the drinks in the first place.  She looked terribly upset that she was not in on the joke.  He then, through fits of giggles, said to me,

“I want Captain Morgan!”

So you guys.  Spiced rum and regular rum taste really different.  This is mostly because spiced rum has spices in it.  Spices like vanilla maybe and some cinnamon.  A spiced rum and coke probably is going to taste different than a rum and coke.  Also, I don’t know of a bar worth its weight in salt that uses spiced rum as their well because you know what would happen? Someone would order a rum and coke and end up with a spiced rum and coke and it would taste weird and they would send it back because that is not, in fact, what they ordered.  Anyway, since she was such a fucking snot I made her pay for her new drink.  So anyway, the moral is if you screw up your order, don’t blame it on the person who made it for you.  Blame it on yourself.  Because it was, in fact, your fault.

Oh and then sort of on the same topic.  Here are three other drink ordering related things that drive most bartenders up the wall. You know, jut for your own edification.

(1) The people who come in when the bar is packed, wave you down (HUGE no-no), and then when you arrive to take their order they turn around to ask their friends what they want.  If you are going to commit the faux pa of waving, snapping, or hollering at your bartender then at least have your order down.  Otherwise you will drop down to the end of the drink line.

(2)  The people who walk in and then stare at the beer board, or taps, or drink menu for fucking ever and when you walk over to see if they are ready they’re all, “um? I need a minute?” as if part of your job is reading minds.  So you make an effort to pass them by every minute or so, looking at them as you slow down to see if they are ready and they either ignore you while staring blankly at the beer boards, taps or drink menu or they give you nasty looks.  Then, all of a sudden, they are ready!  They know what they want!  And they are incredibly agitated if you are not standing right in front of them at that very second for their order.  They act as though the amount of time it took them to get a beer is your fault as opposed to the absolute inability they have in figuring out what they want to drink as if it is the hardest and most important decision they have made ever in their entire lives.

(3)  The people who walk into a non-cocktail bar and when you ask them what they want they say “you tell me.”*  No, I’m sorry, that is not how it works.  You actually tell me. I do not want a description that’s like “I want something pink with some berry notes and a finish of bandaid.”  I want you to tell me the beer you want or the vodka you want or ask me my advice on what sort of whiskey or bourbon might be fun to try.  I will then pour that into the appropriate glass and give it to you.  And then you will like it and give me money.  And then maybe we’ll make some jokes and I’ll listen to you talk about your job and everything will be right with the world.

So yea, ordering.  It is one of the easiest things to do and yet people, regularly, get it oh so wrong.

*And, actually, in my experience cocktail bartenders don’t really like this either.  Generally they like you to at least give them a liquor and a general idea of sweet or savoryness.

Sometimes Firemen Drink a lot and then Everything is Terrible

3 Jun

Sometimes things happen at work that sort of resemble a car crash in slow motion.  It’s like, you’re standing there, watching, and you know what is going to happen but you are absolutely powerless to stop it.  That is what my night was this past Thursday when a group of like 25 firemen (I say men because they were, in fact, all dudes and big ones at that) showed up for the retirement party of one of their firehouse compatriots who really didn’t look old enough to retire but what do I know from fire department rules.

So, everything started out more or less normal.  BIG pile of cash that firedude after firedude threw a 20 on.  It always seems super awesome when this happens until you realize that a lot of the time they keep drinking beer and stop throwing money on the pile and then you end up, three hours later, with a bar that smells like sweaty guys and a pile of like $15 singles.  But they were nice enough and I held out hope that this time I would actually make some money (I did, for reasons that will soon become clear).  Most of the guys were drinking bottled beers: Buds, Bud Lights, Amstels.  But there is always that one dude who wants to do all the shots in the world.  All of them.  And he wants all his friends to do them with him even if they don’t want to and if they don’t want to, then he does them all himself.

So, fast forward like almost an entire bottle of Fire Ball and 2 rounds of Sapphire martinis, the second one which was chugged, later.  It was one of those weird situations where you’re like, okay, well, these guys have had lots and lots of drinks.  But they seem to be laughing and chatting and joking around.  No one is falling over (well, except for this one guy but he was mostly concentrating on standing and not worried about what the other guys were talking about).  So you think, wow, maybe these firedudes are going to hold it together!  Maybe I won’t have to make the awkward move of cutting off like 25 beefy dudes who have not officially tipped me and also might become angry about being cut off.  And then, the car crash.  The super, duper, painfully slow car crash.

All of a sudden Fire Ball shot guy and his buddy who was humoring him and doing all the shots and drinking all the martinis got into it about seniority.  Fire Ball shot guy is like, pushing the other guy who, as it turns out, was his superior at the fire house and also had driven his car to the bar which I knew because he had left his side mirror on one of the bar tables which was a source of amusement for me for the entire night. Seriously, who takes the side view mirror off their car and then just like, deposits it randomly on a table and expects NOT to forget it?  I had to yell after his buddy to get it when they were all on their way out the door in a big, drunken, angry, fighting mob.  Anyway, so this argument devolves quite quickly into one guy pushing and the other guy yelling “don’t touch me!  Don’t touch me!”  At this point, my coworker and two customers go over to try and break up the fight and there I am, all 64 inches of me (on a good day) staring at this mass of big dudes and my little coworker, afraid she is going to get punched in the face and what do I do?  I grab a big glass of water and pour it on them.  And then when that has no affect, I refill it and do it again.  None of the fighting guys noticed but I did manage to get my coworker and one of my customer-friends pretty wet, sorry guys.

So eventually the whole lot of them left and, surprisingly, left their pile of cash on the bar which was actually quite sizable because Fire Ball guy had cut their revelry short.  So I was happy.  Until I noticed this idiot law student who had previously been in the bar drinking white wine for like, ever, chasing the whole big group of angry, drunk, wet firefighters down the street yelling at them about how they shouldn’t fight in the bar.  So, in order to shut her up, one of them picked her up and then put her back down again.  And then she devolved into a crying mess who kept calling me a bitch and then, about an hour later and on the other side of the avenue, repeatedly threw herself down on the sidewalk in a full-on tantrum fit for a 2 year old.  Her boyfriend, who probably weighs all of 90 pounds, was trying to calm her down when these two passers-by stopped and, thinking he was hitting her, threatened to beat him up.  Then my co-worker, still wet, had to go over and defuse that.  Then the cops came, then the passers-by left, then my coworker came back inside and then, two hours later, the boyfriend popped his head in to see if we knew where his girlfriend was.  Apparently he lost her.  Go figure.

As I said, a slow motion car crash that I was powerless to stop.  But I did learn one thing: I enjoy throwing water on people.  I would like to try that again…when my friends are out of harm’s way.