So apparently, the last article I wrote about bartending stirred a little discussion across the interwebs. I became the world’s most honest and the world’s worst bartender in equal measures (thanks to our friends who run Why Bartenders and Servers Hate People), depending on who you asked. Regardless, there’s something to be said about giving an inside peak at a bartender’s mind. You guys either agree or disagree, and vocally, with lots of colorful language.
With that being said, let’s talk about another fun part of being a bartender; the amazing cross section of humanity you get to witness. And by humanity, I mean insanely psychotic, sometimes awesome, sometimes absolutely terrible creatures who consume alcohol at crazy rates for a myriad of reasons and usually end up falling down in a way that makes me regret not having a video camera superglued to my hand at all times during the night. Here is my list of top ten customers every New York bartender encounters in life.
10. The Guy Who Gets Kicked Out
I work in a restaurant, so this is a rarity for me. But shockingly, it does happen. We’ve all seen it. That guy who has one too many drinks, his friends hate him because he gets weird and starts cursing like he has Tourette’s and he gets way overzealous with chicks totally out of his league and he gets gropey. The bouncer (or in my case manager) asks him to leave. He refuses.
Dudes, let me clue you in to a VERY important life lesson – if someone who works at the bar is telling you to leave, this isn’t like an optional thing. You are leaving. End of story. This isn't a suggestion, it's a countdown. So just, leave. I have watched a very small drunk man get carried out of a steakhouse bar by my manager and thrown onto 50th street in front of customers who were dining with their families, then attempt to come back in. Continuously. As if he were going to win. As if my manager would just be like, “Okay dude, I’m proud of your tenacity, come on back!” Eventually a cop was called and then he tried to convince the cop he wanted to go back in. The cop, in cop language, told him to fuck off.
I have never been kicked out of a bar, but I have to simply say please don’t be that guy. It’s not just embarrassing for you, but for your friends as well. We as bartenders all laugh at you and your belief that you are invincible, but if you get forcibly ejected, I promise that bruise from hitting the pavement will hurt BIG TIME tomorrow and it won’t be a fun story to explain to your office.
9. The Savior
I have maybe had four of these. Regulars who when they walk through the doors of my bar, I smile and say, “thank God.” Regulars who don’t bother me, who are polite, friendly, and above all, are reliable tippers. There is one customer who comes to mind who all of my fellow bartenders agree is our savior. His average tip on a forty to eighty dollar check is $100. For no reason. I mean, don’t get me wrong. He gets service like you can’t believe and buybacks like it’s our job. But one day he just walked through our doors and made bartending a little bit easier. And it’s not just the money. It’s the pay it forward attitude of live and let live. He orders his food, gets a couple drinks, is friendly enough but doesn’t expect me to put on a show for him, and he leaves. He even stacks his own plates sometimes to make it easier for me to clear. If every customer were like this, everyone would want to be a bartender and we’d all have one bedroom apartments. But the novelty of such a workday savior also reminds me the difference between good and bad people so it’s a necessary evil to keep me grounded about the reality of what I do. This is a guy who restores my faith in the bar community every time he grabs a stool. So thank you, buddy.
8. The Finance Guy
If you read my last one, you know I work in a bar heavily frequented by the finance crew. It makes for an interesting cross section of this industry. Some actually prove they belong in the finance world by being able to leave a (good) tip without using the calculator on their iPhone. Some – if not most – especially the young ones, make me realize why we were in a financial crisis for so long and how it probably started. They wear fleece vests ,checkered shirts, they talk about their glory days as laxers (no hate) and frat gods, they drinks Stella like they breathe air and talk about their jobs all day long which baffles me because, Christ Finance. Some think they own the world, some actually know how to be respectful, some seem to be there against their will for intern meet and greets and post work “have no more than one beer and sip that shit slowly” “casual Monday meetings. My biggest gripe (and trust me, there are many) about these guys is that I’d say about eighty-five percent of the time they are paying with a corporate card. And trust me, these fuckers certainly DRINK like they know they ain’t paying for it. I really wish they all TIPPED liked they weren’t paying for it too.
7. The Dude Who Needs a Dog
Look, being a bartender myself, I have a lot of bartender buddies. Most I’ve met through work, but some I meet just when I try a new bar. I love regulars, it makes life a lot easier, but there is a big difference between a regular and a dude (or chick) who needs a fucking friend. Like, a REAL friend. In their age group, in their social circle, on their sanity level. Just because I give you booze does not mean we are friends or that I’m going to open up to you about my life and we’re suddenly gonna have the same cycles. As much as I like to think I’m an empathetic soul, I’m not a psychologist. And there are people who latch on to bartenders like we are Cabbage Patch Dolls (if you’re too young to know what that is, go fuck yourself). Ready made friends who automatically care and they believe that this level of chatter will exist in a plain outside of middle bar. Your life story can only be shared so many times before that 17th beer makes it impossible for me to understand you. More often than not, I am not your friend, I am not your shrink and I am not a priest. Please don’t ask me to play tennis with you on Saturday. Or come over for some drinks. Or for my number or to add me on Facebook. Please don’t tell me about the illegal things you’ve done. Please don’t cry to me about your divorce or the affair or the herpes. Please just ask me for a beer and go adopt a dog.
6. The One Who Just Won’t Leave
I don’t know many people (myself included, and the boys at @BrotherJimmysBBQ can attest to this) who don’t pull this one once in a lifetime. But I try really hard not to. I know Frank Sinatra scammed the world into thinking New York is the city that doesn’t sleep, but guess what? He lied. Especially on a Monday or Tuesday. He totally lied. Especially if you work in a restaurant. LIAR FRANK.
Dude, I get the idea of having a good time, but I will never understand the concept of being the only person in a bar. If the lights are up, the music is off, and the bartender is counting the money, go the fuck home. Don’t ask for “one quick round,” don’t sit there casually sipping your beer like you (and I) have all the time in the world to contemplate the meaning of life, either go home to your girlfriend or husband or dog or vibrator or go to a bar that doesn’t have a closing time of 11PM. This is not The View, and the four extra dollars I may make in giving you that extra round is not worth the hour of staring at you quietly and willing you to drink faster it’ll take to get it. Take a look around. Are you the only one in the whole fucking place? THEN GO HOME. (And yes, Stef, that includes you too!)
Click below to read the Top 5 Customers Every Bartender in New York Encounters