Not to do any bragging here or infer that we should hold psychic readings on the side, but I have to say (in all humility) that bartenders have what can only be called a sixth sense. About customers. And it’s there sometimes the moment someone walks in the door. Your A.S.P. will suddenly kick in (that’s Asshole Sensory Perception), and just like that the person performs on cue. Like an asshole. Or a pain. Or a bore of epic proportions you have to endure. Now it’s rare that this occurs, I should add (when this A.S.P. kicks in), as most of our customers know how to act in the main, and are valued, but the exception is always out there and ready to strike. Like he was Wednesday night. For even before I approached this guy, this guy I inherited from the day shift, my A.S.P. was thumping like a full on migraine.
The guy in question was very well dressed, standing next to an empty stool over which his jacket was draped and where his brief case sat. Like a person. So when a new customer walked in the place, a friend of mine in from Florida, I approached this guy and asked if he wouldn’t mind consolidating. Meaning… either sit in the chair or give it up so I can fit one more person along the bar. There were no other spaces
“Ohhhhhhh, I see,” he said, after my reasonable request, with enough acidic tone to etch a piece of metal. “You want me to give up my chair so your friend here can have a seat, is that what you’re asking?”
“No,” I replied politely (amazingly politely), “just trying to make a little room here, my friend, that’s all. And you and your empty chair are taking two spaces.”
“Oh, is that what me and my chair are doing?” he continued. (Remarkable, right?)
“Sir, please!” I said, “unless you’re holding that chair for someone how about giving up the space, do you mind?” And so he slid the chair over to where he stood and took a seat. But not without a menacing glare, a glare I would see later on with much more intensity.
As the evening progressed from there, while engaged in a “serious” business conversation with an associate who was only drinking Coke, this clown began to switch up his drinks all over the place. Like a kid in a pastry shop. (And believe me this “kid” was every bit of forty years old.) For having seen on his tab that he’d already had two Ketel’s and soda, when I asked if he wanted a refill he moved to Jameson. On the rocks. Then after two of those he switched to a martini. Of which he had three. I repeat three! But the bastard wasn’t getting drunk so I couldn’t really say anything.
Until finally, deciding to wind things down after his friend had long since gone, he ordered a bottle of Stella and called for his check. Now remember that menacing glare I mentioned earlier? Well here it flared up again as if shot from a laser gun. Because when I placed his check in front of him, he repeated that look and shouted, “Where’s my credit card?”
“What credit card?” I asked. “You gave us no credit card.”
“Ex-c-u-u-u-u-u-u-s-e me,” he said, “there better be a card back there or you’re in big trouble. That was a black, a black American Express card. Do you know what that means? Do you know what a big fucking deal a black American Express card is?” Then he slammed his employee ID card on the bar with his picture on it. “That’s my Morgan Stanley card, I work for Morgan Stanley,” he roared with pride.
Now if there’s one employee ID card out there that’s likely to summon less immediate respect from yours truly, or carry less moral weight, it’s one that says I’m a stock broker down on Wall Street. And take that how you will. And this guy was showing this not just as a badge of honor but a means of intimidation. Like “little old drink maker me” should be shaking in his boots.
But of course I wasn’t. And excuse me here for the language to follow but this is really what happened as I was really pissed!
“First off,” I began, “you better change your fucking tone or we’re really going to have a fucking problem, do you know what that means?”
“What tone?” he muttered, slightly taken aback.
“This accusatory tone like we did something wrong here. Like we stole your credit card. This is a respectable place, pal, we don’t do shit like that so calm the fuck down. Now let me go check again just to make sure.” So I walked over to the register where I keep all the cards to the side and no card was there. Which I then told him.
“Okay,” he said, running a diversion. “So how much is the bill? Not that I care of course, I just want to know.”
“It’s right there in front of you, it’s eighty one dollars.”
“Eighty one dollars? That’s nothing (then why the fuck did you ask?), what’s important now is I gotta find my credit card!”
“Well look through your wallet again and check,” I said. Which he did. To no avail. Then he placed his sacred ID card back in that wallet. (My first mistake.)
“Look, this is fucking serious, man,” he started to ramp up again, “I’m from Morgan Stanley and that’s a black credit card.” Then he stared that menacing glare again for emphasis. And intimidation.
“Were you anywhere else before you came here?” I asked. Totally ignoring his horseshit set of laser beams.
“Of course not,” he replied, with a look of “As if!”. “Hey, man,” he continued, “I gotta cancel that card because someone’s running around Manhattan right now with a black card!” (And now here comes my second mistake and my worst.)
He pulled out his cell phone, ran to the lobby for better reception and the moment I looked away the bastard was gone. Fucking Vamoose-o!!! And all I could think was, “Wall Street Strikes again!” With arrogance. With deception. With that same horrible sense of entitlement that’s roused those tens of thousands to picket their buildings.
And looking back now, as hindsight is always 20-20, of course I should’ve kept his ID card when he slammed it on the bar like a police badge, and of course I never should’ve let this guy hit the lobby, but who knew? Certainly not me. I’m just another dumb schmuck from the 99%!
But I will say this to the firm of Morgan Stanley… you who might not be seen in the best light anyway… you happen to have an asshole in your employ who not only has a drinking problem he’s a thief! A big thief. And that’s a 100% fact, not 99.
See you next week-end, dear reader, and don’t take any wooden nickels in the meantime like me.