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Tuesday, February 26

Real Confessions of a Bartender (Er..Server)

An article was posted last week on Huffington Post, called "Confessions Of A Bartender: 10 Things Every Bartender Hates About You".

I have been a server for over 10 years. I currently work part-time at an awesome rock-n-roll dive, a place I loved hanging out at before I worked there, and consider my work to also be more of a hang out with great (and sometimes not-so-great) people. When I read through this snarky laundry list of why the bartender could not be bothered by most of the patrons that come in her bar, much of it resonated with me - so I posted it to my Facebook page. 

While I thought that everyone would've given me a virtual high-five for hipping them to this insightful post, I discovered that many of my friends didn't like the tone of the article. In fact, many found most of the author's arguments to be petty, bitchy, and arrogant. When I read through again, I had to agree on some points - and offered my counter argument, or even a more universal interpretation of other points. A friend suggested that I should re-write it, and well - here I go:

(Please note I'm going to skip some of her points, mostly because I don't have much to elaborate.)

10. I am a bartender, not an escort.
I should disclose the fact that thankfully I have not encountered this extreme case of harassment in my 10 years in the service industry. Perhaps it's more common with all the hot-shot bankers that this particular bartender seems to wait on, but I think the whole "pat on the ass" routine went out with the days of Mad Men. Not that I condone this type of behavior, it is definitely NOT OKAY. If this type of situation ever does happen to me at Cleos, you better believe this person would see the door faster than he could chug his last beer - and most likely face the bartender, Tim, in this fashion.

9. Anything less than 20 percent is blasphemy.
I have to give her this one, however I still find 15% tolerable. It's kind of funny that people tend to think that if a bill between $50-80, a $10 tip will suffice - even more insulting is $20 being the magic tip number for bills $110 and over.  The difference I've noticed now that I've worked in a bar and not in a restaurant are the mentality of "this chick works in a bar, she didn't do much." WRONG. I might have only served you drinks, but I've served you ten $8 drinks, all while running my ass off serving other people, making sure you are happy and entertained.  Here's the argument I never see from servers or bartenders though - why don't you ever explain that that tip isn't going 100% all to you? Most places I've worked I've had to give a portion of my tips to at least 3 people at the end of the night. (Currently it's a busser, bartender, and door guy.) I feel like if the non-serving world understands this on top of the measly wage we make per hour, perhaps they would be a little more inclined to add that extra dollar, as Stephen Colbert once plead to Oprah.

8. Don’t ever tell me to buy you a drink. I am all about buybacks.
I'm going to have to agree with her whole argument on this one, especially with my experiences at my current job. I have never worked anywhere that comps as much as the place I work now, and it's both a blessing and a curse.  On the positive side, if I have a great experience with a table, they've spent a lot of time and money with me that night, I will buy them a round and it makes their day. However, sometimes people tend to expect it, and retaliate by either bad attitude or no tip at all. Just recently, my co-worker waited on two people that were supposed "regulars," but she had never waited on them before. She did comp a round for them, but their bill was still high because, well, they drank that much! Because she didn't "comp enough" from their tab, they ended up stiffing her completely. Never, ever, go anywhere and expect to be comped for everything all the time, and just be super stoked when you 
do. You don't ask for this at The Gap, why at a bar?

- A side note: This situation actually happened to me last Saturday night at work. This table of three guys asked for the tab. When I brought the tab, the guy who was paying said, "Wait a second, you take that tab back and bring us three shots. You don't charge us for those shots and I will tip generously." I told him that he couldn't ask for free drinks. He demanded that I got those shots. I came back and said "All right, I'll go ahead and comp you these shots, but I just have to ask you - do you do this sort of thing at The Gap and say "I'm going to buy three pairs of jeans, you give me the fourth for free?"  He claimed that he did, and went on about how he had alligator skin shoes and he shops at Hugo Boss, etc. His friends had a laugh, and later said to me that the guy was impressed that I stood up to him. They tipped a "generous" 20%.

7. Don’t ask me for something “fun."
This is where I think this author missed the mark a bit. She comes off as smug, and a bit lazy. She should've elaborated: We don't mind making "fun" drinks, but we would like to know what you like to drink in order to ensure that you will enjoy the best-damn-fun-drink you've ever had. When someone asks "Make me a fun drink," a good bartender will follow with, "Okay, what do you like to drink?"  More often than not, that person will shrug and say "I don't know..." Well, we aren't fucking mind readers, help us out a bit. If you like to drink vodka, then I'm sure any experienced bartender will make you the throw-in-a-bunch-of-bells-and-whistles (and Rumchata) vodka drink. You're an adult, and most likely have some preferences. If you want a one-way ticket to Headache Sugar Rush Town, we'll be happy to issue that stamp, we just need a little guidance.

6. I am not stupid.
Yeah, I'll have to agree with her on this one. Another pet peeve of mine is when someone asks "Are you in school?" or "What else to do you do?" In the two years between graduating from college and finally landing a job at Carrot Top Distribution, I worked full time at a restaurant downtown that was essentially a tourist attraction. I got this question A LOT. While I'm sure you were just trying to make pleasant conversation, you're really being an awful conversationalist - and inadvertently giving a good blow to that person's ego. I think of Ellen Cherry, the protagonist in Tom Robbins' Skinny Legs And All, in the pivotal moment where she gives up her dreams of being an artist, and resigns to the fact that maybe she'll just be a waitress all her life. This thought crosses the mind of every working artist, musician, and full-time record industry employee still having to wait tables to pay the bills, and it hurts. I'm sure you get the impression that your bartender isn't stupid. So instead of asking what 'else' they do, ask them how they feel about the sequester, what they thought of the last Wes Anderson film, or maybe about their radio show (which I recently gave up, but I digress).

5. I am more important than an intern.
This seemed to be the part where some of my friends disliked this girl the most. BUT she has a point - even though perhaps she should've said "I am just as good as you," instead of "I am better than you." Myself, because I generally want everyone to get along, would say that - but the writer obviously does not care if your feelings get hurt. The point of this story is, everyone should get a lesson in humility. I had a similar situation happen to me when I was about 19. I used to ride the Green Line home. If you've never been on the Green Line before, it goes through some of the most desolate parts of Chicago before entering the leafy green liberal haven that is Oak Park. I was on a rather crowded train, and there was a man trying to swindle people into a cup/ball trick. I knew better than this guy, and when he called on me to "play" his game, I said something rather nasty to him. He then proceeded to humiliate me right on the train. Granted, this guy was a con artist, but I did learn something from him that day. I didn't know where he came from or the life he lead. That doesn't mean I have to engage him in his game, but I didn't have to be a jerk to him either.

Those interns the bartender faced learned a similar lesson that day, and tipping .03 percent was also a bullshit thing to do. (See rule #9)

2. I judge you based on what you order.
OKAY - if there was a moment where I'd tell this author to get over yourself, now is the time. Some people are a little remedial when it comes to ordering drinks, but not everyone is an alcoholic. I often find it refreshing when some a 4'10" lady exclaims that she will have "a diet coke, with a shot of Jack Daniels in it!" She is not a grizzled old fart who spends all her life at the bar. She is a person from the suburbs who is having her one night out in probably a month. Cut her some slack, all right? However, I will admit that I have rolled my eyes more than once when someone asks what a well drink is.

1. Don't let the British guy pay the check. Ever.
Or, at the very least - insist you'll take care of the tip. They're still mostly treating you, you're still getting a night out on the cheap, and I'm sure your friend from across-the-pond will be thankful because he/she's not really sure how much to tip.

Be nice to your female server/bartender, and tip well. If not, she may turn into Naomi (and there's a bit of her in all of us already).

1 comment:

  1. "A one-way ticket to Headache Sugar Rush Town"


Be nice!