The Brighter Writer

THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2014

20 Sure Swift Ways
To Piss Off Your Local Friendly Bartender

It's a tricky concept to work with people instead of product.

There are a lot of personalities out there and unfortunately not all of them are smart nor socially in tune. As a bartender, I see occasional looks from 9-to-5ers who think this sort of people pleasing job is just so easy. I deal with office lifers who see anyone in the service industry as sad drink slingers here to accommodate their buzz. Let's make no mistake here: deep down, I live for this. There is nothing I would personally like to do for a living more than have a social life which also happens to pay my bills. I feel very blessed. I love the freedom my ass feels whenever I stand up and it hasn't physically grown into the square shape of a cubicle chair. However, I have also found my niche far, far away from novice shot takers and now prefer to be the barrel monkey at a more seasoned cabana where I take care of practiced pros who rarely make amateur faux pas.

But with that being said, there are always those few...

My husband and I went out for beers last night to visit a friend of ours who works security at a tavern downtown. As fun as it is to get out of the house and stretch our livers a bit, it absolutely reminded me how happy I am that I don't mix drinks for a gaggle of drunken college kids anymore. Sure, the money is fantastic, but the toll it takes on the temper and the irritation gauge is enough to hang up my shaker for a while.

While my husband sat and watched all the handlebar mustaches come and go, my eyes were fixed on the interaction between the 3 guys lobbing bottles and the unforgiving line which wrapped around the entire bar. I could see, time and time again, the universal pet peeves which were unfolding right in front of my eyes.

It's a world wide formula which bartenders around the globe have had to deal with since the dawn of time:

Unaware and overly saturated patrons
+ Busy bartender in overly populated tavern
= The perfect cocktail of broken bar etiquette.

Now, I feel it's my civic duty to post these betes noires to help clear the air and put an end to any confusion as to what is acceptable pub behavior and what isn't. So in no particular order, let's commence the lesson.

1. Being indecisive (also known as "just make me whatever you want!" or "mix me something fruity, your choice!") I have a bar which the fire department would shut down for being hundreds of people over capacity, and you've been waiting in line for 20 minutes for your turn to secure a delicious cold beverage but you seriously don't know what you want to drink? Get out of here.

2. Trying to throw stuff into the trash can and missing. I don't know if you think you're Michael Jordan, but I have news for you, you aren't Michael Jordan. You're especially not Michael Jordan after 5 Washington Apples and 3 IPA's. As you try and then fail over and over in an attempt to convince yourself otherwise, I am collecting a small army of crinkled up cocktail napkins which I will have to clean up at 2AM after an already exhausting shift. Please just get up and place your trash in the can like everyone else. Thanks.

3. On the heels of this; Frisbee tossing coasters. When you launch a coaster across the bar room, and you come inches away from hitting me in the forehead, sometimes even succeeding, you aren't being funny or flirty or anything other than an asshole asking for weak drinks and an irritated bartender.

4. Tipping in me in a pile of dimes, pennies, and nickels? Are you a homeless person who really doesn't even have the money to be at a bar in the first place? Take that shit to Coin Star. Come on.

5. Making a mess (ie; ripping off beer labels, tearing up coasters) I understand that you're nervous or sexually frustrated or bored or whatever but my job is not to be your personal janitor. Knock it off. Are you building a nest?

6. Opening and closing a tab. This is also along the lines of being indecisive. If there is any chance at all that you may stay and have another round, leave your tab open. It is a pain in the ass to wait for my dial-up credit card machine to close you out 3 separate times at $4.50 a pop. And while we're on the subject, quit ordering your drinks one at a time. Please place your entire order for everyone at your table all at the same time. If you think that by the time I'm back with a tray full of shots you'll be ready for another beer, just order it prior. Don't make me come back 4 times for 4 drinks. I hate you.

7. Asking for free or stronger drinks. I know more about liquor portions than you do and my job is more important than you getting your buzz on. "Don't be shy" or "more whiskey than coke" or "light on the ice" isn't a sneaky way of getting more alcohol in your cocktail. All that does is make you sound cheap and get you weaker drinks. If you want a double, just ask for a double. Chances are, if you're a regular that I'm fond of, I would have probably hooked it up anyway had you not said anything but now, not so much.

8. Complaining about your tab being higher than you think it is. Listen to me, you're drunk and I'm sober. While admittedly there have been occasional flub ups, generally speaking I can recall what you've had to drink much better than you can. I remember that the baker's dozen Fireball shots which you bought for the table of hot chicks behind you did in fact really happen. I'm not trying to pad your tab, ok? Just pay your damn bill and quit arguing with me. Ain't nobody got time for that.

9. Can you turn this song up? No I can't. Your decibel sensitivity is broken. I already turned it up for Phil Collin's drum solo in In The Air Tonight per your request. I turned it up again when your girlfriend played Brittney Spears' Work Bitch on the jukebox. So when I see a line of barstools filled with customers who are having to scream over each other just so that you can play a cranked up air guitar to Freebird, I'm drawing the line. (And just because you've discovered the button in the back of the box where you can manually do it yourself doesn't mean you have that privilege. I will cut you.)

10. Interrupting when I'm talking to another customer. Whatever you're going to say isn't as important as you think it is. Don't be a dick.

11. Using hand signals or yelling at me to get a drink, especially when I'm crazy busy, isn't going to get you a drink any faster. I'm taking inventory of everyone standing at the bar whether you think I see you or not, I know you're there. I have a certain order in my head of which drink orders to take while I go to the other end of the bar to get beer for a different group across the room. When you yell at me, snap at me, clap at me or wave your arms around like a kindergartner who knows the answer in class, you're not only messing up my order of operation, but you're making yourself look like an impatient and arrogant patron. Also, holding your empty beer bottle in the air until I come over with a new one is the grown up equivalent of a toddler holding their breath. Calm yourself. Seriously. I'll get to you, I promise. I'm moving as fast as you assholes will let me go.

12. Don't try to ask me an alcohol related question just to one-up me on your knowledge of alcohol. While a good bartender welcomes the knowledge of learning a new mixed drink or shooter, you also don't need to try and make me look stupid in order to make yourself look more alcoholically educated. Doing so is just going to make you look like a pretentious douche. No, I've never heard of a drink called Underwater Orangutan Piss and that doesn't make you better than me. So shut it.

13. Overstaying your welcome. The bar is closing. You and the two shit-tanked guys at the end of the bar talking about your high school prom memories are the only 3 people left. If you're thinking to yourself "Oh, she won't mind if we hang out for one more beer because we're buddies!" You're wrong. Being nice to you is our job and we'll tell you it's cool but really we want to get the hell out of there and go home just as much (if not more) than everyone else who is approaching the end of their work day. If I'm turning lights on, pulling the bar mats and sticking the garnish tray into the walk-in cooler, it's time to go home. Don't make me stand there continuously checking my watch, yawning and flipping off the TVs while you go on and on. Just go home already and let me do the same. I'm begging you.

14. Drinking and driving. It's 2014. We all know how much of a bad idea it is to drink and drive. Don't get wasted and then wave your keys in front of me so that I know you're going to drive home. I am way too busy to tackle you to the ground and talk you out of a bad decision. I'm not your mom. Drink responsibly.

15. Walking out with a drink. You know as well as I do it's against the law to take a glass filled with alcohol beyond the doors of a tavern. Yes, you're welcome to go sit on the patio and smoke your cigarettes or whatever, but if you cross that rope, you're not only jeopardizing my position but also the liquor license of the actual business itself. This isn't a liquor store. We don't have to-go cups for your Sex On The Beach. Sorry.

16. Trying to have a long conversation when I'm busy. I would love to watch your home video of the hilarious thing your cat did this afternoon or have a long chit chat about your brother who just got put in jail for the 7th time, but right now it's the middle of happy hour and I have to make 16 blended margaritas and muddle 8 different flavors of mojito. Please stop talking.

17. Taking fruit out of the garnish tray. Your hands are dirty. Even if they aren't, I don't know that. My hands, on the other hand, have been clean and sanitized over 10 times in the last 5 minutes from washing a million bar glasses so because I'm the one with the bartending job, I'll be the only one to stick my fingers in the olives. I don't care if garlic stuffed ones are your favorite. Hands off buddy. That's gross.

18. Complaining about being carded. It's my job to card you. Be happy you still look young and not a million years old. Take it as a compliment and shut the hell up about being carded. I'm 33 years old and look like I'm about 16 so every goddamn day I hear "are you even old enough to be serving me" at least once and even though it's like nails on a chalkboard, I don't bitch about it. Get over it and just have it already out and waiting to hand to me already. You should know the routine already at this point and by arguing with me it just makes you seem younger.

19. Throwing up!!! It's one thing to go out and have a good time, but know when to say enough is enough. This is the ultimate no-no. There is nothing worse than cleaning up someone else's used Jagermeister. Please, please, please just don't.

Now, to put a halt to any backlash before it has the chance to ensue, of course I'm not talking about any of my regulars. You guys are my friends and most of you are competent and well rounded patrons who know better. I'm talking about the Chad's and Christy's who stop in on a Friday night on their way to Old Town.

I have no idea who made this video but whoever it is, they're a genius.

Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with a typical day at my office: