Bartenders are supposed to be personable, charming, kings and queens of social civilities. They are key players in any bar experience. Luckily, I haven’t come across many rude bartenders in my countless excursions on bar stools, but one does stick out as being exceptionally crass.
While I’ve only had two encounters with the offender, they were two encounters too many. The first was a hot summer night a year ago – a quiet weekday evening with a girlfriend and a man friend who owns a celebrated restaurant in the city. My girlfriend and I arrived at the upscale bar before our notable friend, Mr. Restaurant, and gazed at the menu while we awaited his presence.
During the fifteen minutes of waiting, we didn’t even get a glass of water offered to us, much less our drink orders taken. The moment our dear friend appeared, his water glass was filled and handshakes were enthusiastically carried out. “Will you have your usual?” the bartender asked Mr. Restaurant, still ignoring the dry mouths of us ladies.
Being a gentleman, Mr. Restaurant turned to us first and asked what we would like. As the night wore on, the bartender extolled his virtues to Mr. Restaurant as though two women weren’t even in the room. It was like watching a needy cheerleader try to win over the quarterback.
When we all left the venue an hour later, the bartender practically drooled all over Mr. Restaurant with thanks for gracing his bar. Amusing to say the least.
Fast forward a few months to more recent times and I found myself waiting on that very same bar stool for a dashing date – a quite recognizable actor. As I sat down, the bartender remembered me from my last visit. I’m surprised that his vision had ventured away from Mr. Restaurant long enough to ingrain my face in his memory. Peripheral vision is a wondrous phenomenon.
This time I got a glass of water right off the bat. I was hoping the bartender had turned a leaf and gone to finishing school in the time we had been apart. But I had hoped too soon, and put far too much faith in this man’s potential pedigree.
The actor arrived shortly and the bartender flipped a switch in his personality. Someone he deemed to be of importance was once again in his presence and I got the cold shoulder. The bartender didn’t wait for the actor to get settled in before he placed a special cocktail in front of him. I was invisible. Again.
The evening continued in this fashion. Bartender never asking me if I’d like another, the actor doing the honor instead. As we spoke, the bartender would butt in with arrogant anecdotes pertaining to our conversation. I was suddenly the third wheel. I briefly wondered if the bartender was gay until he went into a diatribe on ex-girlfriends and the beautiful women in his life. It was more information than I wanted from him. Mental images associated to comments meant for a locker room.
On a date that I should have wished to be never-ending, I was longing for it all to be over. We ended our meal and finally escaped the bar with a sigh of relief and a look at each other that said it all – we were on the same page. First dates should be memorable. And this one most certainly was.
I’m still thinking of clever ways I can give that bartender a piece of my mind…
Lessons from a bar stool:
1. Be a gentleman. If someone else won’t step up to the plate, do it for them.
2. First dates don’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s better if they aren’t. Perfect is boring.
3. Men, ordering for a woman is a good first date move. Use it often.
Lessons for bartenders:
1. Treat all your patrons as equals. It doesn’t matter who’s picking up the tab or who’s got more influence.
2. Know when to back off. A personable bartender is quality, but a bartender that doesn’t know when to shut up is killing his trade.
3. Ladies first.