This guy kept banging his glass on the bar, seemingly every thirty seconds, not to get my attention but to make a conversation point. It was for emphasis… a gesticular form of italics… but that didn’t change the annoyance factor so I had to approach this Frenchman doing all the banging.
“Excuse me,” I said, sliding some bev naps under his glass in a minor attempt at humor, “if you have to make a point do it on these.”
“Huh?” he said, not getting the joke.
“Don’t keep banging your glass down on the bar, man! It’s driving me nuts,” I said, but with a smile.
“Oh,” he said, almost blushing, then he laughed along with his date and the two couples with them. “So sorry, really, I do this no more, I promise.” They were all in their mid-twenties and all very nice.
Then one of his friends added wryly, “We are all from just France, you see, but this guy here is from Paris so he has to make noise.” More laughter then at this inside joke.
So I returned to my friend and his girlfriend with whom I’d been chatting before this encounter (let’s call them Jack and Jill), and said, “No harm, no foul. The guy just didn’t realize what he was doing.”
Then Jack said, “But what would you have done if he’d been banging his glass on the bar to get your attention? How would you have handled that?”
His question prompted this story I now share with you…
I had a guy a few years back who was in from out of town, Cincinnati as I recall, and he had with him a group I assumed to be his underlings. I say underlings because he seemed to be holding court to their wide-eyed nodding. So, while this guy was knowingly holding forth on the do’s and don’t’s of how to navigate New York, and rather pompously I might add, I was at the other end making drinks for the tables. When all of a sudden I heard this sound, this ear-splitting, shrill whistle, the kind you do with two fucking fingers in your mouth. The dog whistle! And it came from this idiot in from Cincinnati. Now I’m not what you call a tough guy nor do I relish any confrontation, but this was over the top and demanded some kick-ass. At least verbally.
“Who in the fuck are you whistling at, mister?” I said as I leaned in close. “I’m not a trained dog back here, I’ll get you a fucking drink when I fucking get to it. Got it?”
Well, your man was so taken aback by this, this 5.3 on the Richter, he immediately put his hands up and said, “Hey, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the way you took it, I just wanted to get your attention, that’s all. I thought you forgot about us. We’re cool now. We’re cool.” But I was still freaking hot when I walked away.
Then a few minutes later, I guess when he finally realized he’d been made to look pretty bad in front of his head nodders, he called me back for what he thought would be his face save. To flex his muscles. “Listen, pal,” he began. “I’m in town all week, I’m staying right across the street, and I’ll be coming into this bar a hell of a lot. You got that? And so let me tell you something, my friend. Don’t you ever, I mean ever try to talk to me like…”
“Oh, no, no, no, my friend,” I said, cutting him off with a wave of my hand. “You won’t be coming in all week in fact you’re not here now. You’re going to pay your bill and get the hell out of here.” And with that I slammed his tab down on the bar!
“Good for you,” said Jack and Jill, almost in unison. “What an asshole,” added Jack to button the assessment.
Then Jill said, “Have you ever had the finger snapper to deal with? I have.”
“You?” I said. “How?”
“I used to be a bartender.”
“You’re kidding. You used to be a bartender?” This revelation kind of shocked me because it was hard for me to picture in my mind this gorgeous little model (that’s what she is, a professional model) banging out cocktails and dealing with finger snappers. It somehow didn’t fit. “I never knew you tended bar,” I continued.
“Oh yeah, about ten or eleven years ago.”
“So what happened? Tell me about your dealings with this finger snapper.”
“Well it was my first week at this new job in this real high-end place, so naturally I was trying to do my best. Right? So get this… I’m busy as hell and this guy keeps snapping his fingers for me to come over. I mean, how rude! But like I said, I was so damn busy even if I wanted to I couldn’t respond. I was that backed up. Then finally, after I got caught up, just to get him to stop I walked on over. ‘What is it, Sir,’ I said, none too warmly. ‘If I give you three hundred dollars,’ he said, ‘would you walk across the street and get me some cigarettes?’ ‘Three hundred dollars? Are you kidding me?’ ‘Nope,’ he said, acting like this big shot. ‘But I can’t leave the bar,’ I said, ‘can’t you see I’m up to my neck in drinks here?’ ‘Then how about I give you four hundred dollars, does that work?’ ‘Sorry, still can’t do it, even for four!’ ‘Five?’ he then said, ‘how about five?’ ‘Sir, please, I’m not trying to negotiate,’ I said, ‘I just cant do it. I can’t leave the bar, like I said, I’m swamped.’ So I walked away. And when I got back over to the waitress station to start making more drinks, one of the girls pulled me aside and said, ‘Don’t you know who that is? That’s Thousand Dollar Jim. Eventually he would’ve given you a thousand dollars. That’s his M.O. with all our new female bartenders. It’s his little game. Go play along and you’ll get a thousand dollars!’ I couldn’t believe it.”
“A thousand smack-a-roonies for a pack of smokes?” I said.
“Yup. A thousand dollars. Pretty incredible, right?”
“Beyond incredible. So what did you do?”
“You know what?” she said. “Damn it I really considered it, I mean who can’t use a thousand bucks if their job is working for tips? But he was so arrogant, so full of himself, and so damn sure I’d play his little game, I…”
“Didn’t do it,” I interrupted.
“It was hard,” said Jill, “but, dammit, no. No, I didn’t!”
“Then good for you as well,” I said, referring to her comment to me over Mr. Cincinnati. “I guess everyone doesn’t have a price.” Then Jack banged his glass on the bar and said, “Could I get a goddam drink when you get a second, please?” We all laughed.
But seriously, dear reader, her story does raise this question I now pose to you. What would you have done in that same situation? Would you have played the game and gone for the thou? In other words, do you have a price? There’s no right or wrong in this, it’s just how you choose to see it or how you’d play it. That’s a hell of a lot of swag to leave on the table!
Ahh, and what about me, I hear you asking, what would your friendly bartender have done with that offer? Well, if it was Thousand Dollar Jane of course who’d made him that tasty offer, she’d not only be holding a pack of smokes mere seconds after reaching that thousand dollar mark, he and Jane would be picking out furniture in the morning.
(Joking, I’m joking, take it easy out there!)
Let me know what you think and I’ll see ya’ next week-end!