Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not So Memorable Moments

The Great Sarcasm Dump continues for a few more days as the number of shifts remaining entered the single digits after last night. I have been remembering many moments that I found either entertaining, astounding, funny or appalling. Many of the following are, in reality, some sort of combination of all four:

1) Was the Carrot Cake really worth it?

I was working in a huge establishment on 16th Street Mall in Denver and it was somewhere in the middle of summer. We offered a limited late night menu (for the "Can I still get fooders") of ridiculously overpriced crap food. At 1:30am no one bats an eye at an $8 piece of carrot cake after a night of heavy boozing. It was nearing last call on a crazy busy night and we were three deep. I was getting my ass handed to me pouring drinks as fast as humanly possible. Mr. Fingersnapper and his girlfriend had managed to worm their way to the bar and as I walked by, he was up on his knees on the barstool, leaning over the bar, waving his menu and (yeah, you guessed it) snapping his fingers and yelling at me. He was far too intoxicated for me to even THINK about giving him a drink so I completely ignored this rude, overbearing freak and took drink orders from the sober, quiet couple who had been waiting and whose turn it was in line. This sent Mr. Fingersnapper into a rage and he (I am not joking one bit) hit my shoulder with the menu and screamed, "Hey you f-ing b___, I want some carrot cake!"

I have an extremely long fuse and the ability to NOT react to morons, so I simply ripped the menu out of his hand and told him to get out. He insulted me a couple more times with his most impressive vocabulary and when I turned around, our amazing security guard had him on the floor, hands behind his back, giving him the option to leave the building or be arrested for trespassing. This particular security guard was a friend of mine, so I knew his pet peeve was anyone who called any employee a rude or vulgar name. Larger and twice as strong as anyone in the place, I had seen many a namecaller carried out by the back of the neck or sometimes (my favorite) the ear.

Mr. Fingersnapper decided to cooperate enough to be allowed to return to his feet and then in another fit of stupidity and alcoholic rage actually TRIED TO COME OVER THE BAR TOP at me and kept yelling he wanted carrot cake.


The guard restrained him, I had his tab printed out and in front of him to sign and then Mrs. Fingersnapper decided to whip out her pretty pink phone and video her man getting thrown (literally) out of the building. This didn't last long and she  tried to block both men from leaving, screaming that she was going to post it all on Facebook.


By this time the entire bar was watching the show. Neither member of the Fingersnapper family knew how to shut up and leave and both ended up cuffed and leaving in a policecar just after last call. I had to fill out a witness report and actually got got subpoenaed to testify in some stupid lawsuit they brought against the security guard. It, of course, got dropped, but not after a night in jail and attorney fees for the Fingersnappers.

Damn. All for a piece of $8 carrot cake.

2) The Town Drunk

Every bar has one. He is the lifelong raging alkie that all the bar staff loves and hates. He knows he has wasted the last 60 years of his life in a bottle, but also he knows no other way. Old, wrinkly tattoos cover his arm, his cheeks are never any color but red and his old, gruff voice is a result of a lifetime of Marlboros. No one has seen him anywhere close to sober and out of some kind of sick sympathy, we all serve him one or two anyway,. He is usually quick with a joke, very right wing Republican and leaves 20% whether he is able to finish his beer or not. Some months we see him everyday and then he will disappear to his other watering hole for a month or two.

This particular drunk, I will call him Joe, must have been on a three day bender because when I clocked in at 5pm on a Tuesday early one fall, Joe was loud and on the fight. I knew where this was headed so when he went to use the restroom, I replaced his drink with a glass of water. This was the usual silent agreement we had established so he knew I was done serving him. Usually compliant, he normally lingered for another ten minutes and was on to the next bar to try his luck.

But not today. He pushed the water glass away and demanded another drink. I ignored him for a minute until he starting yelling that I had one minute to pour him another drink. (Yeah, really) or he was going to come behind the bar and get it himself! I told him it was time to hit the road and that I was not giving him any more alcohol. I am not sure what this triggered in his brain, but he told me that he was going to kill me if I didn't get him a drink. I laughed and walked to the other end of the bar and he charged after me threatening my life. I kid you not.

At 5pm, we had no security on shift yet, so two male customers restrained him before he made it to the end of the bar and hauled him outside. To this day, I still remember him calling me every horrible name, threatening to kill me more than once and shaking his fist as he was being carted out the door.

And also to this day, my still heart breaks at the thought of how many people have been drunk their whole lives. What a sad waste of an existence.

3) The Big Fight.

Week two at a new job in a small, neighborhood bar in the 'burbs. Mostly the good ol' boy crowd, plus a few karaoke and poker regulars, so really a pretty mellow crowd. The place was packed one Friday night and it was me and  the 120 lb cook running the show. One thing this crazy gig has taught me is how to read people. I can tell you who is going to fight  long before they even know it. Seriously. Being aware and simply observing the body language of people and what they do when they think no one is looking speaks volumes. Bartenders have supersonic hearing as well, thus, some select conversations I heard throughout the night clued me into some of the brewing drama.

I was relieved to see the main antagonist pay his tab and leave. I watched him walk out the door and stole my one chance to run to the restroom. While washing my hands, I heard all hell break loose and ran back to the bar to observe pretty much everyone kicking the shit out of everyone. And on this particular night everyone was very large. Large girls wailing on large girls....huge guys destroying pretty much everything in their paths, tables, chairs, glasses, pool sticks. A mushroom cloud of people brawling would form, then dissipate and a new cloud of new people fighting new people would form.

I am pretty seasoned at jumping between two hotheads, yelling really loud and kicking then out when the need arises, but that method would go nowhere with this chaotic mess. My need to pull out the big guns was confirmed when I saw a girl get tossed out of the mushroom cloud coming my way, take her stiletto heel off and hit a huge dude over the head with it. It did not even phase him. I knew this was out of control and I was going nowhere close to the battlefield. Our skinny cook was trying to pull people off of people and a few of the regulars were trying to restore some type of sanity when I turned up all the lights and killed the music.

Knowing I had to think and act fast, I grabbed the phone and yelled that the cops were en route as I was speaking. It was a huge lie. I hadn't called anyone. But it worked. In less than 5 minutes, you could almost hear crickets in that bar following a mass exodus of large, angry (and now scared) people. All that was left  were the peaceful regulars in the corner who were laughing at the fact that they had just enjoyed a good show. I looked at the aftermath and the huge mess I now had to clean up. I really had no words, emotions or reaction. I simply stood in utter disbelief.. Violence and fighting is something I have never and will never comprehend in any way, shape or form. Period.

Hey world, let's try NICE, whaddya say?

4) Slosh, Slosh, Slosh....

Big bar. Big night. Big, fancy building in a prime downtown location. At about 7:30 in the heat of a full capacity dinner rush, the plumbing backed up. Not just a plugged toilet in a bathroom, but all sink and floor drains, toilets, everything. We first noticed it when the floor mats in the bar seemed to be floating and our feet were wet. Then came the smell. And more water.Water coming back UP the sink and floor drains. Dirty water now in the water we were supposed to wash glasses in...water leaking out onto the hardwood floors in the dining area. Dirty water all over the bathroom floors and the worst was in the kitchen where sewage was coming back up through the floor drains and covering the entire area.

The smell was wretched and most people were paying their tabs and leaving. Every manager, busser and host had mops in their hands trying to stop the rising tide, but it was a losing battle. All of the bar staff had sought out rubber boots from the brewhouse and we were laughing at the spectacle. A well-oiled machine had come to a screeching halt as no one was really able to do anything. No drinks could be poured, no food cooked. No plumber had yet arrived and this ship was going down fast.

I looked around and much to my amazement, saw customers actually still eating! The smell was so bad that the entire staff either had their shirts covering their noses or had found a cloth napkin to use as an "outlaw style" face cover. AND PEOPLE WERE STILL EATING. There was dirty water barely three feet from their table. Ugh!

We began organizing our banks and entering tips anticipating a quick close when management informed us we were remaining open because it was a Friday night and there would be too much money lost. At first we thought it was a joke.But it wasn't. We were really going to try and sell food and beverage in sewage. I looked down at the rubber boots I was wearing and the three inches of sewage in which I was standing and cracked a smart ass comment regarding the almighty dollar that was not appreciated by the manager. A few others followed suit, but to  no avail. Uh, yeah....we stayed open for probably another $200 in sales.

Needless to say, I threw my sewage covered shoes, socks and pants in the dumpster in the parking garage that night as I left.

5) Quick Quips

I am rambling so here are a few others that stick out in my memory (all 100% true and unexaggerated, I swear):

I once had a guy order a beer, look me straight in the eyes and tell me he suddenly had the urge to start a fight. He then turned around and poured it on the guy (a complete stranger) sitting at the table behind him. That guy happened to be an off duty police officer. It didn't end well for the provoker.

I once had a bar owner pull me aside in the middle of a busy Friday night and tell me she saw me put two extra limes in a drink and to add 25 cents per lime after the first to the tab. I couldn't hold back my laughter.

I carded Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top because I didn't believe it was really him.

I once found a homeless woman taking a bath in the toilet.

Ok, That's all I can call to memory. For Now.

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