You Might be a Douche… (Part 2)

Where was I…

1. You sit down at a bar.  The bartender walks over and places a coaster or beverage napkin down in front of you.  You take said coaster or beverage napkin and place your cell phone down on top of it.  I sure hope you like condensation, because you’re not getting another one.

2. You’ve been waiting for a while for a spot at the bar and one finally opens up.  You sit down quickly and gesture for me to clean up the dirty dishes in front of you.  This could include pointing to the food, waving at it with the back of your hand, or even asking us to “clean this up.”  We don’t expect you to use other people’s silverware.  Clearly we’re busy.  We don’t need you to teach us the fundamentals of our job.  And now you’re on our shit list.  So good job on speedy work.

3. You sit down and ask if the bartender if they have snacks.  “Like nuts or pretzels.”  Yes. Yes we do.  They’re called appetizers.  Here’s a menu.

4. “It’s so cold in here.  Can they turn up the heat?”  Sure, I have nothing better to do.  Let me go find “them” so “they” can pretend to turn up the heat while I actually use the opportunity to go to the bathroom for the first time in 8 hours.  Next time bring a sweater.

5. “What do you have on draft?”  Let me get you a list.  After five seconds of pursuing the menu… “Do you have Miller Light?”  Deeeeeep breath.  No.  We have WHAT’S ON THE MENU!!!!!

6. You’re loud as shit.  While at the bar, use your inside voice.  As long as we’re not at a club in the city, I can hear you perfectly over the three feet of bar dividing us, and the person sitting five inches to your left can hear you too.

7. Don’t order hot tea at a bar.  That’s all I have to say about that.

8. “Is it good?”  Please don’t ask us that.  Ever.  On some level, all of our food and drink is good.  Do I like sour beers?  No.  But there’s a market for it.  Do I like cheese in my salad?  No.  But I’m in the minority there.  If you ask any service professional if the food or beverage they’re serving is good… ultimately the answer will be yes.  Because we don’t serve poop on a plate.  If you’re lucky you’ll get a real pro who will say, “Yes, if you like sweet drinks.”  Or, “It’s a little too spicy for me.  But it’s very popular.”  But don’t hold your breath.

9. “I’ll take the burger with fries.  But no roll on my burger please.  I’m allergic to gluten.” Well our fries are fried in the same oil as some foods that contain gluten so would you like a different side with your burger?  “Oh no.  The fries are fine.  I just can’t have the bread.”  Riiiiiiight.

Another favorite…

10. The service bar is for servers.  People who work for the establishment.  You standing in the middle of the service bar to order a drink is like trying to cut the line at Disney.  You now have a whole lot of people really angry at you, and you’re still not going to get what you want.  Stand behind the brass rail.  Let the workers work.  Wait your turn.

To be continued…

You Have One Job…

Anyone in the service industry is incredibly judgmental of others in the service industry. We can’t help it.  But we expect service that we would be expected to give to others.  Be and be treated… and all that.  And it’s why a lot of service professionals either never go out or only go to a handful of places that are tried and true.

This isn’t limited to restaurants though.  The service industry covers a wide array of jobs. For example: today I drove into a gas station.  I handed the man my debit card and said, quite clearly, “Twenty dollars of regular please.”  I proceeded to check my emails on my phone and after a minute or two heard the click of the gas pump stopping.  I looked back out of habit at the pump and saw $39.46.

YOU HAVE ONE JOB!!!!!!!  TWENTY. DOLLARS. OF. REGULAR.  I didn’t stutter.  I didn’t mumble.  If you weren’t sure, why not ask???  If that were my mistake, say I charged for an extra drink or two by accident, I would have to void the mistakes off the check, probably buy them another round for the inconvenience, and there would be an angry letter written to my boss informing them that their bartender is trying to “steal” from their guests.  In the long run does a difference of $19.46 really make a difference?  No.  Do I have a full tank of gas?  Yes.  And I get that you’re standing outside all day in the middle of winter.

BUT COME ON!!!!!

Oops…

Have you ever said something and then immediately wonder if you made a mistake? I fully understand that everyone’s humor is different. But there are times that things come flying out of your mouth and you just cringe. For example:

Me: “Good evening sir. How are you?”

Man: “Fine. I should tell you I’m really not very friendly.”

Me: “It’s all right. I’m only nice because you all pay me to be so…”

Me in my head: “Shit. That was out loud. I’m fired.”

I’m happy to report I’m still employed. And the guy left 20%.

 

Happy New Year!

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I hope everyone had a profitable and safe New Years!  Back to business…

Here’s something that really grinds my gears.

A girl walks into the bar.  “Hey.  What can you make me that has, like, vodka and, like, cranberry juice in it?”

The bar is busy, the bartenders are trying to take drink orders and food orders while making OTHER drink orders, while washing glasses, and the tickets from the service bar printer are streaming out like they’re lotto numbers.  Look around.  You have no less than six people standing behind you that know EXACTLY what they want to drink, and they’re holding cash.  And I have to put this couple’s food order in.  And those people want to pay.  I don’t have time for your version of “Deal or No Deal.”  Here’s your vodka cranberry.  I put some club soda and an orange peel in there to make you feel fancy.  Enjoy.

The dinner rush is not the time to get adventurous folks.  Go with what you know or get an idea from our drink menu.  When I’m standing around polishing glassware with two guests at the bar, I’d be happy to come up with your new go-to drink for you.  I’ll even go to the kitchen for fresh berries to muddle in the bottom of your newly-inspired sugar-free mojito.  Otherwise, if you’re looking for inspiration, may I suggest Google.

 

One-Liner

Guest: “You were fantastic! Thank you so much!! What’s your name so I can request you next time we come?”

Waiter: “Greg with a G.”

Guest: “So just the one G then?”

Eavesdropping snarky bartender inner monologue: “This guy is my hero.”

Mixmatched Mixers

Man walks into a bar.

Bartender: “Hi. What can I get for you?”

Man: “Um, can I get a Jameson and tonic?”

Bartender: “Sure.”

(Bartenders thoughts: Dear man. Allow us to educate you. You are no longer in college where you’re stuck grabbing the first mixer bottle you can find to go with the first bottle of brown liquor you find under the sink. Time to grow up a bit. Either man up and order a vodka tonic or enjoy brown liquor the way it should be enjoyed – either one large ice cube or neat. But don’t embarass yourself. What’s next? Adding Diet Coke to Jefferson Ocean? Please.)

Let it Go!!!

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A woman walks into a bar.

“Hey.  I was here about a year ago and you had this drink on the menu with fresh blueberries.  Can you still make it?”

The bartender says, “No, I’m sorry.  We took it off the menu so we don’t have the ingredients anymore to make it.”

The woman says, “Well, I’m sure you can improvise.  Can’t you just make me something close to it?”

No.  No I cannot.  Do you want to know why?  We don’t have blueberries.  Do you want to know why?  WE TOOK THE DRINK OFF THE MENU!!!!

The bartender in real life says, “Sure.”

Folks… times change.  People change (sort of).  Restaurant menus change mostly according to product pricing and seasonal changes.  And bar menus change.  They change because you were the ONLY one who liked that drink last year with the muddled blueberries, rubbing-alcohol vodka, and fresh-squeezed overly-sweetened lemonade.  Real talk: no one likes to chew their drinks.  That’s why it’s called food AND drink.  Not food WITH drink.

If you don’t see what you want on the menu, change your expectations.  Don’t ask a bartender to recreate (or worse… improvise) a very specific drink and taste you remember from any night more than a month ago if it wasn’t the bartender that made it in the first place.  I don’t remember what I ordered for Chinese take out last week.  I’m not going to be able to recreate a drink you had a YEAR ago.  You’ll wind up not liking it, my manager will have to comp it off your check, and then I’ll be ACTUALLY snarky to you as opposed to being generally snarky to you which comes across as witty.

Take a note from the Dread Pirate Roberts: “Get used to disappointment.”

You Might Be A Douche… (Part 1)

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Who doesn’t love a good Jeff Foxworthy “redneck” skit?  Well, to honor that I would like to start my own little list.  The following are things that send red flags shooting in every direction for most bartenders.  They make us slump our shoulders, take a deep sigh, and close our eyes for a few seconds to calm down the stupid.  This list will be on-going.  Here are the first ten of “You might be a douche…”

1:  You walk into a bar.  There are 16 empty, clean bar stools to choose from and you sit at the 17th bar stool – the only bar stool that still has an empty plate and glass from it’s previous occupant at it.  Whyyyy???

2:  You walk into a bar.  The entire bar is clean and empty.  And you ponder for a good five to eight minutes over where to sit.  It’s just a chair.  You won’t find a golden ticket under it.  Sit down.

3:  You sit down.  You may talk with your friends for a few minutes.  The bartender asks you what you would like to drink.  Your answer can include, “Just water for now,” “May I see a drink list?” or “What do you have on tap?”  Your answer can NOT include, “Gosh, I don’t know.”  You.  Are at.  A bar.  Really??

4:  You sit down.  The bartender says, “Hi!  How are you?”  And you answer with the description of a food or beverage item.  So sorry.  I don’t think you heard me.  “HI!  HOW ARE YOU??”

5:  You sit down.  You’re on your phone.  I’m telling you right now the bartender won’t even go over to you.  Give the seat to someone who’s ready to order and spend money.  If you’re conducting business, good for you.  I’m sure you have a lovely office.

6:  You order a Bloody Mary any day other than a Saturday or a Sunday.

7:  You order a Bloody Mary ANY day after 4:00 pm.

8:  You ask for blue cheese stuffed olives with your martini.  The bartender tells you that the bar doesn’t carry them.  You ask the bartender to make them for you.  Sure.  Let me drop absolutely everything I’m doing so I can go slap on some latex and shove some mold into a fruit that’s been marinating in a jar of it’s own juices for God knows how long so you can have a free appetizer with your glass of gin.

9:  You order “an extra extra dirty martini.”  And then send it back because it’s too dirty.

And a personal favorite:

10:  You sit down and order… nothing.  I don’t care if you’re waiting for a friend, or waiting for to-go food, or waiting to speak to the owner of the company.  Ask me for a soda, or get the fuck up.

To be continued…

 

Closing Time

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The last half hour of a bartender’s shift is the most anxiety-ridden time of our day.  There is one thing that we all fear: the straggler.  Nothing is worse than having it be ten minutes to closing and having a few people wander in looking around like they just landed in Oz.  If it has been a busy night and you feel a little beat up, all you want to do is finish up with the patrons that are already there, clean up, count your tips, maybe have a beer, and go home.  If it has been a slow night, you ONLY want to go home.  So your clean up and tip counting is done early because when the manager locks that front door, you can punch out and fly out the back door.

But then… your hopes and dreams are crushed.  Because an Uber just let out Malibu Ken and Barbie at the front door and they look like they’re about to write the next chapter of a Nora Roberts novel.  Little do they know you’re about to tell them that the kitchen is closed, no you cannot recommend a “fun” drink, and you respond with one word answers when asked how your night went.  Their Nora Roberts novel just went the way of Thomas Hardy.  A good rule of thumb, regardless of the establishment, either know when the bar closes before going in OR be sensible enough to take the hint that it’s time to get the hell out.

A man (lets name him Bob) that was hosting a private event in the restaurant finished with his party and after saying goodbye to his guests, came to sit at the bar.  I gave Bob a beer, and he informed me that he was just waiting on someone to meet him.  This was a good hour before closing so I wasn’t too worried.  Twenty minutes later, another man (lets name him Bill) joined him.  They clearly hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and I wasn’t convinced that this wasn’t a secret romance reunited.  Nevertheless Bill ordered a beer and the two continued to talk.  About a half hour later, Bob received a phone call and went to a nearby table to take the call.  I continued to clean up and soon it was closing time.  Fifteen minutes after closing time, Bill asked me what time the restaurant closed.  I told him and after an embarrassed look at his watch he apologized for the hour and explained that Bob was on a phone call to China.  I told him I still had work to do so he could hang out while I finished.  A few minutes later Bob got off the phone and returned to the bar.  He said he hadn’t realized what time we closed and asked for one more round.  In a moment of weakness I said okay and gave them another round.  They paid immediately once they received their drinks.  That was the good news.

Bill and Bob stayed and chatted for another two hours.  Two.  Hours.

Bill and Bob are assholes.  Don’t be like Bill and Bob.

 

SMILE

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Servers and bartenders are constantly on stage.  We perform and entertain while providing a service to a paying audience.  Instead of applause we are rewarded (or should I say judged) with money.  In a way, our job is harder than a stage performer’s because we need to read every situation independently to assess the level of entertainment needed.  Are these ladies looking to maximize their afternoon fantasies while their kids are in school?  Are these men on lunch hour blowing off steam or is this a working lunch?  Is this woman buried in her book wanting to finish a chapter before book club or is she using the book as a cover and is actually not reading a single word on the page?  It takes all kinds.  If we are lucky, the audience will return and reward us with more accolades i.e. money.  Maybe this is why so many people in the industry are in the theater business?  And there is nothing more difficult than shaking off a bad performance.  But you swallow the bad taste in your mouth (grin and bare it… if you will) and move on remembering that every guest is a new opportunity to make someone’s day a little brighter.  Because in all honestly, it’s really not about the money.  At the end of the day if you are good at your job, then you will be rewarded.

I have had plenty of people say to me, “Smile!” or, “You should smile more!” or, “Don’t take yourself so seriously!”  The pressure of working full time, or going to school full time, or making sure your bills are paid on time, or making sure your family is provided for sometimes creeps into your brain and takes over your facial expressions.  Sometimes for no reason at all you zone into oblivion and just need to be snapped back to Earth.  Maybe your friends are blowing up your phone making it hard to concentrate forcing you to shut off your phone completely.  Whatever the reason, people never hesitate to tell a service professional that they should be happier.

The other day i had just finished carrying two full cases of wine stacked on top of each other up two flights of stairs.  To my great relief, I managed to get them behind the bar and on the floor safely.  As I opened the boxes and started putting the wine away I heard a voice saying something behind me.

“Excuse me?” I said as I turned around.

“Smile!  It’s not that bad!”

“Oh I’m fine!  It’s all good!”

“Well you’re putting those wine bottles away with this, ‘Ugh!’ expression on your face!  Lighten up!”

“Oh of course!  No worries!” with a smile and a ‘hahaha’ is what actually came out of my mouth.

What I wanted to say:  “I didn’t realize that you expected a rendition of ‘Make ’em Laugh’ while my BACK was to you.  I’m completing a requirement of my job that is actually benefiting you in that I’m making sure this bar is supplied with more of that overpriced sludge that you’re chugging.  I just carried 70 pounds of wine up two flights of stairs.  Maybe if you tried to lift something heavier than a glass from time to time you’d be able to go out to a bar in something other than an over-sized Hawaiian shirt with a stain on the collar.”

That last part was just me being mean.  But… honestly!!!