I have noticed an abundance of 100daysofhappiness clogging up my newsfeed of late…. Me, I prefer a rant, so apologies in advance for bombarding your newsfeed with this instead…
Day 1: CUSTOMERS
The topic of contrary customers is by no means an original rant… However, it is one that has not yet been exhausted. Far from it. Twice a week, I take up residence behind the bar in a traditional pub, and twice a week I am surprised by the new levels of ignorance, rudeness and idiocy that I am faced with (and reminded how many members of the general public I actively dislike…). For the sake of diplomacy, and the fact I do not wish to make enemies, I would like to point out that it is not the regular customers who generally pose the biggest threat to my sanity. The vast majority of bar-flies have long-ago been whipped into shape by long-suffering barkeeps. No, it is the infrequent (and often quite frankly intolerable) visitors who raise my hackles, and my blood pressure.
Problematic customers can broadly be split into four categories: The Comedians, The Rude, The Complainers, and The Just Plain Wrong. Sadly, these often overlap, resulting in a special kind of workplace irritant.
The Comedians is a veritable misnomer as it implies a certain level of entertainment – on the contrary, these customers are not entertaining on any level, in any way, shape or form. These are the individuals who feel it necessary to make bar-related “jokes” incessantly. You know the ones, of course you do; even if you only drink in pubs and don’t work in them, you’ve had the misfortune to have overheard them… The guy who says “har har it’s my mate’s round, I’ll have a bottle of champagne, har har har!” he can barely speak he’s amusing himself to such an extent. Or “Oh look at my pint, can I get a flake with that? har har har”. It’s not funny, not even remotely so, but it’s even less funny when you’ve heard it for the seventeenth time that week. My current landlady has previously silenced culprits of the second “joke” by producing a flake from a special box kept under the bar solely for this purpose, dropping it into the Comedian’s pint, then (this is the best bit…) charging him for it! I think the moral of this story is not to attempt to joke with stressed bar staff, they will have heard it many, many times before, and it wasn’t funny in the first place.
The Rudes is a group comprising of social inept idiots, the irony being that they often choose to congregate in that most social of settings: the local pub. There are not enough hours in the day to detail the huge number of irritating ways that this group express themselves. Perhaps a list of rules would illustrate how best ensure that you don’t get demoted into this category, as once you have been written off as a Rude by a barkeep, you need to do an awful lot of grovelling before you cease to be invisible next time you wish to wet your whistle:
1. Always bring your glasses back to the bar. Never EVER come up to the bar and complain there are glasses on your table. If you have no arms/hands, then allow me to apologise, I will GLADLY clear your table of all its detritus. If you have fully functioning limbs, then please expect the request that I stop serving, and come and be your skivvy, to be met with the look of disdain it deserves.
2 Never click your fingers at me. Never whistle to get my attention. Never wave money in my direction. Always say please and thank you. Self-explanatory, surely?
3. Don’t assume that because I choose to work behind a bar that I am therefore lacking in brain cells. I am not, and I am also likely to be less drunk than you. Oh, and I’m the one who decides whether or not you get another drink.
4. Don’t buy me a drink and then complain about the price of it. It negates the generous gesture. It also makes you look like a stingy moron.
5. Don’t argue with me. If I say you’re not getting served, you’re not getting served. End of.
6. Don’t ask for things we clearly don’t stock. Don’t ask for the same non-stock item the next time you come to the bar, or indeed the time after that. The situation is exceedingly unlikely to have changed.
7. Work out what you are going to order before coming to the bar. Don’t think you can pay and then add on more drinks. it doesn’t work like that. I may be a lowly barmaid, but I can remember more than one drink at a time… Go on, try me!
8. Don’t throw a massive pile of change down on the bar and expect me to sort through it. Do I really look like I have nothing better to be doing with my time?
9. If you don’t know me, don’t call me Doll Or Darlin’. Or Babe. Definitely don’t wave your cash at me whilst calling me one of the aforementioned names. If you are under the age of twenty five and refer to me by any of the above, I will ID you.
10. Don’t tell me to smile. If I were on the other side of the bar, I may be smiling. Alas, I am on my side of the bar and I am currently serving you, hence the reason I am not smiling and am unlikely to be smiling any time soon.
Stick to these rules and you shouldn’t get involved in too many altercations, and I won’t have to step up my campaign to get a system similar to this one put in place: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10512059/French-cafe-charges-rude-customers-more.html
Now onto The Complainers – a pretty self-explanatory category. These are the individuals who take great pleasure in complaining about anything and everything. Generally speaking, I don’t mind a good complaint, in fact I will go as far as to say that I actively enjoy a nice satisfying rant. What I cannot abide, however, is people who voice their complaint, do nothing to change their situation, and witter on and on and on about it. We’re more expensive that Wetherspoons? Please (please!) take your custom there instead. You’re not happy about the price increase? Hmmm, it hasn’t appeared to affect your ability to afford 8 pints each day – grudgingly, of course, as you have complained about the 7p rise each and every time you have ordered one – but feel free to put your money where your mouth is (so to speak) and drink elsewhere. You don’t like the fact the football is on the biggest television when you want to watch the caber-tossing final, and the smaller TV simply won’t do it justice? Go and watch it at home. It’s more expensive down South that up North? Why, yes, yes it is. Have you only just noticed you are down South? (Surely not: the number of people studiously avoiding eye contact/not saying hello to each other/taking up seats unnecessarily with their bags must have given you some indication… Sorry, sorry, that’s a whole other rant right there!) By endlessly repeating yourself you are not endearing yourself to me, or increasing the likelihood of me actually reducing prices/swapping channels. In fact, I would say that the number of times you complain is inversely proportional to the likelihood of me actually doing anything about it.
The final group, and the arguably most entertaining, are the Just Plain Wrongs. These are the people with whom one simply cannot reason. Now, I may ‘just’ be a barmaid, but I do know stuff…. I know, for example that if I fill your glass half full with ice and then add cider from a tap, then you are not going to get a full pint, regardless of your arguments to the contrary. I know how to pronounce supposedly difficult words such as Deuchars and Bombardier correctly; don’t tell me I’m wrong. I know that I am not breaking the law if I refuse to serve you, despite what you may think. I know that you can’t really be getting that drunk on those vile shots you insist on making me pour; think about it, they are only 15% alcohol, that is basically like doing shots of red wine. I know your baby is not crying, but it is still not acceptable to have it in a holdall under the table (long story). I know that you are skint, but that does not make it okay for you to bring your own cans into the pub and then ask me for a glass into which to decant them. I know that I am not Irish, nope definitely not, no that is not an Irish accent, yes I am sure. Yes, I work in an Irish pub, that does mean that I deliberately set out to deceive you with my non-Irish accent. I know Guinness is meant to have a head; when you ask for a head-less Guinness, I know you are an idiot. I know that if you ask for something by a weird name you incorrectly believe to be witty (“I’ll have a pint of numbers, Babe, and mind not to put too big a head on it, you look like you’d give good head har har har”), I am very likely to pretend I have no idea what you are talking about until you ask for your Kronnenburg properly. I know that every time you argue your ridiculous points, I am less likely to notice you the next time you approach the bar…
I may have inadvertently given the impression that I don’t like pub work…On the contrary, I actively enjoy it. That doesn’t mean that I can’t rant about it. Certain customers would just do well to remember that the barkeep is always always right, and as they serve the beer, this fact should never ever be in dispute. Oh, and we like getting drinks bought for us, we like that a lot, I don’t think I can over-emphasise just how much we like that, just please don’t undo your good work by complaining about the cost!