Archive for December, 2014


Posted: December 19, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in Uncategorized

I have been trying to be more patient, more…Zen, more understanding and more enlightened. I have found myself in serious danger of becoming the “Hey you kids, get off my lawn” guy. My mother, when living in a condo complex actually found yelling at small children from her window enjoyable, but I’m trying to put that phase of my life off for a few years yet. Besides, mom needed a new hobby, besides disapproving of her only son. I’ve always kept pretty busy.
> Unfortunately, despite my efforts, there still seems to be some vast and elaborate international conspiracy to keep me medicated and angry. I understand, I’m comedic entertainment personified when I mumble to myself, scowl and look up to the heavens and mouth “Why?”
> In one of my efforts to be more like a cross between Mr. Rogers and the Dalai Lama, I have made a serious effort to refrain from ranting about my profession. I’m a bartender, and a damn mediocre one at that. I’ve stopped with the weekly or bi-weekly laments of the pitfalls and wacky hijinks of my job. This is because, I frankly don’t think people want to hear ( or read ) about it. Plus, it’s my job. It took me decades to reach that elusive conclusion. Ever notice that with the perpetually cranky?. Their very profession and the work in entails seems to infuriate them It’s my job to pour drinks., restock the bar, do some cleaning, and be nice to customers in the hope that they will tip me, and honor me as well as my employers with their repeated custom ( and tip some more ) If I don’t like doing these things, I can go back to being a male escort and CIA mole. So, I am going to take a new approach. I’m not going to rant and rave. I’m not going to kvetch and bitch. I’m going to suggest. I’m going to suggest nicely, humorously, and kindly. There are inevitably going to be clueless and selfish jerks that make my job not so fun, Oh who am I kidding…there are people out there who make me feel like I am being punished for being a particularly sadistic concentration camp guard in a previous life.
> Suggestion Number One : Beer
> Once upon a time in American bars and pubs there weren’t many beers to choose from. You had your Bud, Lite Beer from Miller ( Less Filling-Tastes Great, Awesome commercials with Rodney Dangerfield and John Madden) there was Lowenbrau. Michelob and maybe, MAY-be some import like Heineken. It was easy-peasy-Japanesy to recite a beer list. Oh sure, people probably sang the Lowenbrau jingle to bartenders to their annoyance; “So tonight….TO-N-I-I-GHT…let it be Lowenbrau”, Annoying yes, but at the end of the day, that’s really not so bad, These days we have literally hundreds of imports and craft beers. Bock, Stout, Lager, Ales, Pilsners, IPAs, ICBMs, IUDs, IOUs and so on and so forth. According to statistics that I am pulling out of my ass, most bars these days have an average of 12-16 drafts and another 15-30 various bottles and cans. Every bar has a list of their bill of fare…or they line up all the pretty bottles and cans so you can see what’s available. The only problem with this system is that…people have to actually look, think and read. You see where this is going?
> .
> Instead of looking, thinking and reading, they ask for the information that is easily avoided BY looking, thinking and reading. They ask the bartender, ie ME. I can’t describe the personal difficulty I have in remaining pleasant, patient and helpful when someone stands 5 inches from the taps…the clearly LABELLED taps, and asks “What do you guys have on draft?’. This question is only acceptable if the customer making the inquiry has dark Ray Charles sunglasses on and a German Sheppard on a funny leash…Then I generally become quite helpful.
> Last week my boss Sean and I had a realization that I like to call “Murphy’s Law of Beer # 4A”.
> “Murphy’s Law Of Beer 4A”: If a customer asks what beers do you have, and you recite the entire list, the following conversation will always occur.
> Customer:”Hi, what kind of beer do you guys have on draft?”
> Me ( Being Nice and not pointing to the various labeled taps as I recite the list ) Sam Adams, Sam Adams Seasonal, Stella Artois, Guinness, Founders Porter, Lagunitas IPA. Goose Island IPA, Sweet Action, Radeberger, Wiehenstephan, Shock Top, Bud Light, Smithwicks, Old Speckled Hen and Harp”
> Yes we have this many beers on tap. Maybe I should point at each of the beer taps as I recite. I’ll just have to keep a big, friendly grin on my face so I don’t appear rude or sarcastic, despite being, y’know, rude and sarcastic.
> Customer: “OK I’ll have a Labatts”
> Me: “Uh we don’t carry Labatts”
> Customer: “You don’t?”
> Me: “No”
> Customer: “OK….what do you have again?”
> Me: “Sam Adams, Sam Adams Seasonal, Stella Artois, Guinness, Founders Porter, Lagunitas IPA. Goose Island IPA, Sweet Action, Radeberger, Wiehenstephan, Shock Top, Bud Light, Smithwicks, Old Speckled Hen and Harp”
> Customer: ( Here’s where the fun begins ) “But you don’t have Labatts?”
> Me:” No”.
> Customer: “Really?”
> Me: ” Yes….Really” (Thinking. ‘Yeah, I’m lying…you didn’t use the secret Labatts password and I’m not allowed to pour you one unless you do’. In addition to looking, thinking and reading, I see we’re going to avoid listening too.)
> Customer: “Um I don’t know….what was that third thing you said?”
> Me: (Hopefull) “Stella?”
> Customer: “No-o-o-o”
> A two minute pause while I stand with my eyebrows raised awaiting a decision. Customer stares blankly. They still haven’t read the labels on the taps.
> Customer: ” I don’t know….
> Me:( Smiling ) “Do you need a minute?” This is polite bar and restaurant speak for “I want to go away and come back when you’ve decided, or died while deciding”
> Customer: “No”
> Customer: ” I’m sorry, what do you have on tap again?”
> I don’t need to go on do I? The punch line of this joke is they will eventually order the blandest, commonplace beer ever. All that rigmarole and you ordered a Bud Light?
> Suggestion Number Two: Your Cellphone
> I have lamented over the complete lack of cell phone etiquette far too many times to revisit it again. My conclusion after extensive research:” Cell phones are rude inventions and people simply aren’t going to change the rude behavior associated with them. ” Yes, I have a cell phone. I use it less than 5 or 6 times a month. You’d be amazed how easy it is. No, I am not going to address your precious Apple, Samsung or whatever brand of life support system you’re constantly tapping on and staring at. I am going to address a common inquiry that confuses and frustrates me. If you’re always on your cell phone and simply can’t bear to be without it for 30 seconds, wouldn’t it make sense to carry a charger with you? As I have said I use my cell phone less than 10 times a month, and I keep a charger in my back pack. Want to know why? Because, as seldom as I use my phone, I understand it needs regular charging if I plan to use it.
> So, why…Oh why am I being asked 10 or 20 times daily “Uh do you have an I-phone 5 charger I can use?” Well now, let’s see, we’re a bar…we have stools, liquor, beer, cleaning supplies, the token drunkard muttering angrily to himself in a corner, a baseball bat under the bar for political discussions, first aid kit….but no, lo and behold no i-phone chargers for cell phone junkies. Isn’t it even a little presumptuous that you can use our electrical outlets and our electricity free of charge? I may start asking for a dollar from now on, and revel in the sadistic power the dealer has over a junky.
> Why on Earth would we have chargers for you? What else do you need at the bar? We have napkins and pens to write down the numbers of that guy or gal who’s looking sexy after 16 beers. We like giving those out, because the inevitable fallout makes us laugh to ourselves. We even have band case you’ve cut yourself. Know what we don’t have? Maxi pads, 1040EZ tax forms, insulin and hypodermic syringes, shoe laces….and we don’t have chargers for YOUR phone. That’s one of those things that fall solidly under the column of YOUR responsibility. I know that may seem inconvenient at best, and unbelievable at worst…but that’s how it is. Sorry.
> Sorry for this lengthy preface…the long and short of it…If you love your cell phone more than your mother…bring a charger with you.
> Suggestion Number Three: Water
> Bars sell alcoholic drinks. They are places where people get together to drink, listen to music, watch sports and drink some more. We have drink specials and go to great lengths to obtain the licensing to sell these alcoholic beverages. Yes, we have soft drinks available, but it’s not really the point of a bar. Recently I am noticing that people are drinking more and more (and more) water at the bar. Now there is nothing wrong with having some water. I have even recommended it to people who have had a lot to drink or are drinking especially sugary drinks to avoid a hangover. But, there is a ratio here that needs to be socially considered. If you’re at a friends house, you have one or two of their offered rice krispie treats, and not say, eight or nine. It’s one of those slippery and elusive decorum things. Similarly, you don’t have 5 or 6 glasses of water for one glass of wine or bottle of beer you’re drinking. If you’re really into water, stay home. Invite your friends for a big water party. They can bring big bottles of Evian, Perrier or Pellegrino in those pretty wine gift bags…Everyone can drink all the water they want and you can rent Sahara, Yellow Submarine, Water World or Titanic for entertainment. Have a blast. Go nuts. Just don’t inflict your hydration upon me or my place of employment. We have enough to contend with. Water doesn’t pay the rent for the bar. Water never gets a tip and doesn’t pay MY rent either. Fetching you glass after glass of H2O is keeping me from schmoozing and waiting on people who ARE tipping me, or keeping me from doing whatever side work I have to do before I leave. We still have to wash those glasses. It consumes small amounts of time and resources that build up after awhile. I’m not a jerk. I’ll get you a glass of water. I’ll get you two. I just want to sell a few drinks in the interim.
> I know what some of you are thinking. “What’s the big deal” about getting someone some water? I understand your line of questioning. Maybe it does make me seem petty and cranky… so let me put it into some perspective you might understand or be able to relate to.
> If you work in an office. and the person next to you in the soul sucking cubicle asks you for a paper clip…it’s no biggee. ” Sure Fred, here ya go…one paper clip coming right up”. 5 minutes later they ask you for another paper clip. “Well aren’t you the paper clipping dynamo today…here ya go my friend”… After the third and fourth paper clip, you might do an eyeroll, after five…Getting my point? Keep your water orders to a minimum, especially if the bar’s busy…or maybe toss Mr. Bartender a bean after getting 3 waters. That’s why we’re there. To serve real drinks and make money for ourselves and the establishment
> One last thing about the water. People often order water and tell their bartender “I’m rehydrating” or “Tryin to stay hydrated”.That’s nice. Let me clue you in on a little bartender’s secret. I think and care more about how much lint is currently between my two smallest toes than about your current state of hydration.
> Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestions. If you’d please employ them the next time you’re at your favorite watering hole. we’ll all have a better time.