If you see the place is filling up and you’re lucky enough to have a seat but you’re just drinking water… I’m talkin’ tap water… don’tcha’ think there’s something wrong with that picture? Even a little? Well that’s a question I’m posing, dear reader, and one I pose to you as a neutral observer. For your friendly bartender is far from neutral and he especially wasn’t this past Friday night when the following incident made its way into Bar-land.
Two guys in their early twenties come in and take a seat at the bar, one guy orders an Oban neat (a very good start it would seem), and the other guy says, “I’ll have a glass of water. ”
Hmmm, I think, probably just a pre-lim til he figures what he wants.
Then five minutes later when I go back to the guy and ask if he’s made up his mind, he proudly says, “No, I’m just having water.”
Well, the room is still fairly empty, I think, and there are other seats to be had, let’s give this guy a pass for the time being. Plus he might change his mind.
But no more than twenty minutes down the road (and which often happens in our place) the room fills up and now there aren’t any seats. Not a one. Especially for the two lovely women standing directly behind our waterboy and looking for all the world like they want to sit down. In fact one actually says (rather loudly, as I recall), “Are there any seats available down at the other end?” “No, miss,” I say, looking at H2O the whole freaking time.
So you get the picture, right? Seats are now at a premium, Oban is slowly sipping (which is what you do with a single malt so I have no problem with that), and waterboy is not only not sipping he’s finished his glass and is promptly asking for another. Which I give him. Along with a look when I set down the freaking water. Along with a bang when I set down the water to embellish!
Now before I go any further here and you think me Scrooge with an apron who’s wearing his grumpy pants, let me give you some back story on all this nonsense. First of all… many times when people come in and see that the bar has no seats, they’ll walk back out. Which of course is their privilege. Or they’ll just stay for one ’cause it’s too big a pain to juggle a drink in addition to what they might be carrying…. particularly women with purses the size of carry-on luggage. (Or men with “man purses”!) And that means either of those exits costs me swag.
And secondly (at least the way I see it), you’re in a store for crying out loud and a store is a place where you go to make a purchase. I mean, can you check into the goddam Waldorf and say, “Do you mind if I take a nap in one of your rooms? But don’t charge me because I won’t mess up the bed or anything, I’ll just lay on top of the covers and brush my teeth.” Can you do that?
So back to Friday night…
Another fifteen minutes go by, the place is really humming now and waterboy still doesn’t get the freaking picture. He’s oblivious. Even when people with money to spend are reaching over his shoulder to spend that money. “Excuse me, ex-c-u-u-u-u-u-se me,” they say, as their drinks and multiple dollars slide past his nose. This man is sitting in the middle of a scrum, he’s the one with the ball and still has no clue. But when he points to his glass to indicate a refill I finally lean in and make sure he gets the clue.
“I don’t mean to be a hard ass,” I say, “but you’re gonna have to do better than a glass of water here. All of a sudden your seat is valuable real estate. Look around, man!” And his reaction was not only rife with surprise but it held an air of resentment thrown in as a bonus. To which I just smiled, shrugged and walked back down the bar. Then moments after that, I’m glad to report, Oban (who did get the picture) asked for the check.
So here we had two guys, one drink, and an hour and a half of bar space to affect that transaction. Not to mention how many transactions got lost in the interim. And so my question to you, dear reader, is simply this… was I out of line for saying and doing what I did? And what would you have done in a similar situation? That’s right, here’s your chance to jump behind the stick, put on a nice clean apron, and tell your friendly bartender what you would do ! And he more than looks forward to reading your learned response.
A final note before you weigh in: I’m fully aware there are people out there who (for whatever reasons of their own) do not partake of any kind of alcoholic beverage. And I applaud that choice. But if you come into a bar and take a seat (at least to my way of thinking) you should at least jump into a club soda, coke or a juice. Even if you promise to not mess up the bed!
Over and out from Bar-land, see ya’ next week-end!