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At Your Service: Behind the Bar

Another week in pizza hell.

Maybe it's not that bad, most of the time, but every time I hear "Let's rock and roll on that pizza" or "Let's pull the trigger on it," a little piece of me dies.

Unfortunately, it is part of my job description to grin at you instead of cringe and walk away shaking my head. But inside, oh inside, it is a different story. I am probably cursing the people who gave you life.


I discovered this weekend why I don't normally drink at work. As wonderful as it is that my bartender training has (stealthily) included tasting the drinks I'm making, it is harder to keep my potty mouth under control. I think it's a give-and-take situation, though; my smiles and laughing are suddenly genuine. I am happy to see you and blabber about soccer or probability theory. I really do hope you are enjoying your pizza, because it sure as hell smells divine. I am also less likely to take offense at your terrible sense of humor. Just please don't laugh when I spill water on myself. Being contained by a space that is approximately two-by-twelve feet does not allow for many places to hide.

It is a different type of person who chooses to sit at the bar rather than at a table. Aside from the solitary, lonely ones, you get people who truly want to talk. People are willing to reveal a lot about themselves when they're drinking. One man revealed his plan to get his girlfriend drunk so he could liberate her libido. An older gentleman would not stop staring at me until I asked if he wanted more beer. Instead of a simple yes or no, he responded with, "You know, you're a pretty lady." I took that as a yes and charged for him for another.

I discovered how many alcoholics I work with. In my three bar shifts, I have had almost every server beg me to make them a drink. One asked me for three smoothies in one shift. I tell each jokingly they are not worth me losing my job. Well, I sound like I'm joking when I say it. Seriously, though. None of them are.

I also discovered how fun it was to encourage elderly couples to drink, but potentially dangerous as well. A couple from Canada in their 60s sat at the bar towards the end of my bar shift. After three drinks each, they said they would came back in two hours to try the pizza. I was working on the patio that night, so I told them to say hi.

Three hours later, I saw the husband sitting outside on the bench. I went up to him and asked if they already ate, thinking he would talk my ear off in an accent so thick I could barely understand him; basically a repeat of our earlier conversation at the bar. Instead, he looked at me and said, "I lost my wife."

He had been waiting for an hour outside of the restaurant, he said, and was worried because of the drinking they had done. She was supposed to be shopping across the street, but when he went inside the store to ask for help finding his wife they refused to assist. He had no idea what to do. Nor did I.

After another half hour of the gentleman wandering around in a circle on the corner, his wife showed up. She had been shopping down the street, she told him, after chewing him out. At least they'll have a story to tell family when they go home: a female bartender in Chicago got them drunk and caused them to lose each other in a city they had never been to.

I learned my lesson, too, from this lovely couple: if I plan on getting old people drunk for my own amusement, I should at least make sure they are going straight to their hotel.



The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments. Catch up with every installment as well as other series' like Barista! in our Life At Work archive.


Posted on July 2, 2009

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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