Paulelmo's Blog

“I bet you’ve got some crazy stories” (#1.1)

There is one thing that almost everyone says when I tell them I’m a bartender. “I bet you’ve got some crazy stories.” Sometimes “crazy” is replaced with “wild,” “awesome,” or “cool,” but the understanding seems to be that bartenders are just always living through copious amounts of fracas and uprising.

This may be true for those who man the privately-owned late night joints, dance clubs, and honky tonks, but it isn’t so much for me as a bartender in a corporate restaurant that closes at 10:00 through the week and 11:30 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Having spent the majority of the last 24 years behind bars, I do have a few crazy stories, but they’re usually humorous, rather than dramatic, and more often than not, they involve something someone said rather than something someone did.

When i arrived at work on Saturday, I was reminded of one such instance, which I had forgotten about.

As is the case with many of my “crazy” stories, the word “crazy” can actually be replaced with “unique”; things you’d never expect to see or hear.

After I stepped in and Matt and I got everything settled, he called me aside to give me a little bit of lowdown about the bar top. He said something like “I’ve got Pete under 206; I’ve given Charles one beer, but I didn’t start a check, and the people at 203 are….” Those ellipses stand in for what was said by someone connected with this party about someone in the party at some time in the past. The young lady about whom the thing was said was sitting at the bar; the woman who said it wasn’t currently present.

And I had forgotten it. How I had done so, I couldn’t imagine, but I had. Still, it didn’t matter, because I remembered now, and it was funny and it was beautiful, and it didn’t matter that this dude was now at my bar. It didn’t matter that he would not have a speck of care if he drank way too much, and it didn’t matter that he would make at least veiled mention of getting something for free, or that he would complain about the prices or anything else he could warrant complaining about (which didn’t take much to warrant of course), or that he and his daughter (she about whom this thing had been said) would sit there and use up those two bar stools at a full bar when friends of the bar might have to opt for tables.

None of that mattered. I was pleased to live through all of that because of what their presence gave me in return. I had forgotten, but I no longer did. I was giddy to suffer their worst and gladly attempt the extremely poor tip they would leave. The remembering alone was worth it all and more.

***

I’m assuming this young lady is this man’s daughter, but I’m not certain of that; she may just be a young female friend or a niece. She was with him yesterday, and the only other time I’d seen her with him was on the night this thing was said. Like I said, that was years ago.

I’ve dealt with him a small handful of times over the years, enough to know that he is among about the top three people I don’t want to deal with in Hanover. That I’ve been tending bar in Hanover for nearly ten years and that he’s one of the top three should give you an idea of just how painful he is to have to deal with.

The last time I saw him was that night a few years back when this young lady was with him and the other woman, who might be his wife.

it was a busy weekend night, and Matt and I were essin’ and geein’. They were drinking margaritas I think, and since all of the bar stools were full, they had to stand. They didn’t stand in one spot, however; they moved around–which is irksome.

Then, something happened; I don’t know if the young lady tried to order another drink or if I noticed her movements weren’t as smooth as I care to see the people I serve alcohol exhibit. Whatever it was, something happened to make me know it wasn’t a good idea to serve this young lady any more booze.

I’ve always found that the easiest way to flag someone is to enlist the aid of the other people in their party. Think about it, these people know how much they’ve been drinking; plus, they probably know them well enough to know that drinking too much is their habit, which would lead one to believe that getting flagged is common.

Using this reasoning, and knowing that this dude wasn’t going to be much help in any situation, I chose to speak to the other woman (his wife?) about cutting off the young lady.

They were near the service bar at that time, a bad place to be of course, and the older woman asked to order three more margaritas. I bent toward her to be discreet, and I told her I didn’t think I could serve the other woman any more. What I got was nothing near what I expected.

I was expecting, or at least half expecting, her to say something about how she could understand how that might be the case, that they were pre-gaming pretty hard at the house before they came out and her friend/daughter-niece had knocked more than her share back, or something like that.

Instead, she got the most puzzled look on her face. I recall her looking in the direction of the younger lady wondering what about her behavior might bring me to that conclusion. And then she had it; the puzzlement left her face in lieu of a dawning sensation.

She was so satisfied to be able to say to me, “Oh, she’s not drunk; she’s retarded.”

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