The first day that I opened Liberty, it was a Thursday I do believe.  We opened up for lunch if my memory serves me, and I think that we served about six friends.  Back in those day, things were so harried that I don’t even really open1remember that first plate, that first cocktail – but I sure wish that I did.  Why?  Because the memory of those pure servings, free from any reality of whom those plates and glasses are going out to are now muddied, sullied, confused and forever blurred by the stand-out dunderheads that we as bartenders see most days.

exclamation_point01Wait, don’t worry.  Most of the people that we serve we are honored to be able to serve.  I truly enjoy serving someone their first really good whiskey and there’s little better in this big, round world than someone with their old-faithful standard gin and tonic in front of them – forever left un-finished because the Last Word that I poured forever captured their interest.  Those people are our heroes.  As bartenders, we pass these people between ourselves like long-lost family.  We say, ‘Go to Xbar, and sit at Y’s bar, and tell them that I sent you.’  We love to hear a bartender from another town say, ‘Hey, Z was sitting at my bar and told me to come here and have a drink.’  That’s the kind of thing that we love like kids of all ages love snow-days.

But, then there are the others…  The louds.  The sullens.  The walkouts.  The knowitalls.  The violent and the drunkangry.  We don’t like them.  And, we know them – we see them as they walk in our door and we recognize them from a mile away on the street.  They drink Jaeger.  They drink something and Redbull.  With grandiose exclimations, they buy all of their friends their drinks and tip two bucks.  They destroy our bathrooms.  They fall over themselves and break glassware.  They pretend that they know you, that we’re best pals and they forget your name the 50th time that they come in.  They are the poor and bummed about it and they are the rich and want you to know.  They are the incredibly attractive and the depressingly ugly.  They are the smart and the dumb.  The well-bred and the bumkin.  They are a democratic lot – each having the right to be equally and atrociously vexing.

workinprogressHere’s an example: A short period ago, the drain to the well was backed up on a very busy Saturday night.  A party of twenty and some was just getting up to speed.  Another party of 10 just showed up out of the blue…the server was about to start crying, the sushi chef had not had a break in three hours…the barback was a blur…  So, this meant that while the bartender was making drinks and getting his ice out of a bus-tub, the barback was busy simultaneously helping me and helping the bartender as I cleaned out the well one scoop at a time as I tried to fix a problem that simply did not want to be fixed and strenuously resisted all of my efforts.

Have you ever tried to fix a flat on your car in the middle of a rain or snow-storm?  That’s kinda what it felt like.

So – just at the apex of the issue, a fellow comes to the bar from a table and asks for a couple drinks from me, I patiently take his order and let him know that I will have his drinks sent over to him.  He stands there and then wants to order more…at this point I tell him that I will have his server come over momentarily.  So…he goes back to his table and loudly tells his whole table about the jerk that ‘was not doing anything‘ who could not take his order…  Wow.  Any of you that may be of an age enough to remember the original Hulk program…remember the opening sequence, where they show Bruce Banner trying to change the flat tire in the rain where he banged up his knuckles?  In his anger and pain, Bruce Banner then turns into the Hulk?  Remember that?  Well, that’s how I felt.  All I could think about at that moment (besides wanting to go all Hulk on this guy) was, ‘Has this jerk EVER worked in a restaurant?‘  I bet that he was drinking vodka, too…

That’s OK though.  When the revolution happens, a commupance is due.  The clock is ticking, and the piper must be tipped accordingly and appropriately.  The bill will have come due.

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