I ended up bartending last night. I found out that I would be working in this capacity at the last minute. Literally. So, I had no opportunity to prepare myself. And I need to mentally prepare myself for the wretchedness that is Sunday night bar. It is the worst shift. The worst.
As much as I hate Friday nights because the rush starts so goddamn late and I hate Saturday (both day and night; I am an equal-opportunity hater) because, well, it’s Saturday. It has no rhythm to it. And people are miserable on Saturday (both the customers and the workers— it seems as if no one wants to be there). But, still, Sunday night bar is my least favorite shift.
Falling, as it does, at the end of the weekend, Sunday nights have a rushed, impatient quality to them. Folks just want to eat and go home. They think they are the only ones who are hungry and tired. They don’t want to wait for a table. So, when it’s busy, they decide to jump the wait list and eat at the bar. Spreading ten people, including four young children, across three bar tops also becomes a suitable option. News flash: it’s still the same kitchen. And there is only one bartender. Because Sundays nights are a crapshoot. Often we don’t go on a wait, so there is only one bartender.
When I work the shift you can bet your ass that we will be on a crazy wait, people will flood the bar, and the service bar will explode. And don’t even get me started on take-out orders. Or why I have to be responsible for them. Or why people think that I don’t deserve to be tipped on their $100 take-out order. Just don’t even get me started on that bullshit.
Because there’s way more bullshit to discuss. Like when six people all order waters (with lemon, of course) and the cheapest appetizer that we have on the menu. They request that I get it out quickly because they are “starving” (No, you are not. And I really wish people who are clearly not starving would refrain from using this phrase or, at the very least, be required to educate themselves as to what the clinical definition of starvation actually is. Lucky for them, they wouldn’t even be close). I now have to explain to these “starving” people (who I now hate, by the way) that it is busy and we only have the one kitchen, Ha! Ha! Ha! I advise them that, more than likely, their food will not be out prior to their table being called. They order it anyway. They now sit there tapping their fingers (which have a surprising amount of muscle tone, given the fact that they are “starving”) and checking their watches the entire time they are waiting for it. Inevitably, their table is called before their appetizer is ready (Surprise!). So, not only have I wasted time giving them plates, silverware, condiments, dirty looks, etc., but, just for added time-consuming fun, I now have to search them out in the dining room to bring them their food and their check, which they now want transferred to their server. I know they have not left a tip on the bar. The only way I’m getting a red cent out of them is to have them pay their bar check separately. They always argue. I don’t care. It’s a pain in the ass to get the check transferred and, believe it or not, I want to be compensated for my service. It’s how I make my living, asshole.
And the party of ten spread over the three bar top tables? They are never going to be happy sitting there. Never. Because the children are really too little to comfortably or safely be perched on the giant stools for any extended period of time. So, they must be held, either on laps, or in some other manner throughout their entire meal. And nobody’s happy about this. Nobody. More often than not, they order and realize that this whole idea was really stupid and demand that we (meaning me) find them a table in the dining room, which, of course, we cannot do in any kind of timely fashion because they have taken themselves off the list and the table that was probably ready only minutes after they hatched their brilliant plan to take over the bar tops has already been given to people who, presumably, have a brain. Their poor choice will inevitably be my fault. As will the fact that we are not allowed to put booster seats on bar stools (Imagine that!). Poor little Mary, Johnny, Leopold, and Shusma not being able to reach the table to color (or to eat) will be my fault, too. Guess what percentage I will receive on their $200 check? Because they will not be any happier at the end of their meal than they were at the beginning of their meal. And, it will all, somehow, be my fault.
And, truthfully, part of it may well be my fault. They will not receive great service. Because I will be far too busy to provide them with such. Large parties and parties with young children always require more time and attention (Just the fucking chocolate milk-making alone, for Christ’s sakes). Bar top service, particularly when we are on a wait, is the worst choice a party with this dynamic can make. Bar tops are a great choice for a couple of guys looking to have a beer and catch a game; for a young couple who just want to grab an appetizer and a drink after a movie; or an older couple who know what they want, order it, eat it, and move along. Bar tops are not for folks who need constant attention (you know who you are) or those who have special needs (any configuration that includes young children).
What is most infuriating, though, especially when you’re busy, is that they will find a way to complain and get something for free. Rewarding the stupid makes me want to smack someone. Upside the head. Even little Leopold may not be safe. Usually by the time I have reached the “smacking someone upside the head” portion of the evening, it is almost over. And I get to go home and watch “Once Upon a Time” (And no one had better bother me. I am, after all, in a head-smacking mood.)
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