Bartending and baseball have things in common: You tend to see something you’ve never seen every time. Last night I had a woman tear into me because I didn’t give her sufficient attention. She suggested it was due to her age. It wasn’t. I was busy. Her age didn’t make her ugly; her attitude did.
Her fit seemed to be triggered by my saying hi to a regular customer next to her. I had already served the regular four drinks, she tipped me well, she was very kind, and she was actually in the same age ballpark as Ms. Jilted.
To compound things, a woman on the other side of my regular yelled, “Hey, I was here before her,” after I greeted the regular. I felt like I was on some silly prank show.
Me: “I’m sorry. Look, I was way down that end around the corner taking care of the servers. I didn’t see who was here first.”
First Lady: “Well, I was here before her, and I want a cappuccino with whipped cream.”
Me: “Fine. And, what would you like?”
Too Old Lady: “Obviously, what I was drinking before — vodka, tonic, orange slice.”
Me: “Actually, I didn’t serve you that drink. The other bartender did.”
Too Old Lady: “Whatever. You can see what it is.”
Me: “How would I know whether it’s vodka or gin, tonic or soda, or which brand of booze it is without asking you?”
Too Old Lady: “I just told you.”
Me: “Right. I’m on it. And, two Titos and tonic for you?”
Regular Lady: “Yes, please.”
The regular blushed as she was embarrassed about the whole situation. I smiled and winked at her. Naturally, being a Teflon prick, I made all the drinks then delivered them to my regular first. I knew I was going to get zero tip and more attitude, so why would I waste my time therapizing the angry?
I understand that people often have a bad day and I just happen to be in the vitriol firing line. People in the service industry deal with this daily. Our managers expect us to apologize and return kindness when spat upon. That encourages more spitting, no? I prefer to deflect, shrug, and use my shield of sarcasm to keep me from getting all stabby and stuff.
Later that night the regular came up and apologized.
Me: “Nope. Don’t you do that. You did nothing wrong. The others were way out of line. I’m sorry you got stuck in the middle.”
Regular Lady: “Yeah, I know. I mean, Jesus, what the fuck?”
Me: “Right? Oh, well. Let them be. They don’t affect me.”
When you’re having a bad day and you approach servers and bartenders, try not to take it out on them. We’re here to help. The sedation we serve should help you cope or forget. You can even tell us you’re having a shitty day. Maybe we can listen or make you laugh. We’re not here to make your day worse. This is our job and livelihood. Be kind to your servants and you’ll be better served.