Tales From “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: There Are Rules, People! Rules!


TheABGtherearerules


It is shocking to me how many customers get it into their pea brains that the best way to get an employee’s attention is to wander into the kitchen, throw up their hands, and ask “Is anyone working here?” I am uncertain as to what it is they expect to find us doing in the kitchen. Do they think we are getting up a game of gin rummy? Practicing our dance moves? Napping?

This behavior should not shock me — nothing should, given my thirty-plus years of experience dealing with the dining public. Still, it almost always renders me semi-speechless. The only answer I can usually muster, following playing my meld, taking off my tap shoes, or rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, to the very insulting question, “Is anyone working here?” is “Yes. Someone will be right with you.”

What I would like to say, but don’t — because I need my job — is “Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you? Get out of the goddamn kitchen and take a seat. Wait your turn.”

A disproportionate number of these types of humans — and I use the term “human” loosely here, as it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to discover that they were raised by wolves — are bar guests. And, they’re in a hurry. Or in need of a fix. Or both.

I had two guests do this to me yesterday. Two. Let me just say this: their behavior during our initial encounter did nothing to endear them to me. If they had been diabetics in need of some juice, I may have been more understanding of their predicament. Neither of these “gentlemen”, as it would turn out, were suffering from low blood sugar. What they both needed were alcoholic beverages at noontime. This cemented my opinion that they were jackasses of the highest order.

One required a couple of straight vodkas to deal with the ex-wife and her attorney; the other had decided that he would need more than half a bottle of wine to fortify himself for his upcoming trip across the George Washington Bridge. Yeah. There’s nothing like a couple of boozy blowhards on a Wednesday afternoon. Nothing like it.

I wish they had been there at the same time. Perhaps they would have found in each other something they did not get from me. That something? A sympathetic ear.

Instead they got me — a woman not known to possess a high threshold for bullshit, a soft  heart, or the wherewithal to suffer fools.

After listening to vodka guy for all of thirty seconds I said, “I’m sure there’s nothing a divorce attorney likes to see more than someone who comes in half in the bag to sign important documents — particularly when it’s the party he or she is NOT representing. You’re every lawyer’s dream! Good luck to you!”

To our wine aficionado I said, “Well, if you have any more wine, it’s likely you’ll get a quick trip over the bridge — either via the railing or in a police car. I cannot imagine that either of those scenarios would be preferable to a little traffic.”

They both took in my retorts, eyed me suspiciously, and paid their checks. I was not sad to see either of them go. I hope they enjoyed a lovely day busting someone else’s chops.

Every situation has rules, written and unwritten. DO NOT ENTER A RESTAURANT KITCHEN UNLESS YOUR ASS IS ON FIRE is rule number one while dining out. DO NOT INSULT THE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN A RESTAURANT AND THEN EXPECT EXEMPLARY SERVICE (OR THAT SYMPATHETIC EAR) is rule number two.

I hold out very little hope that my “liquid lunchers” were catching what I was throwing to them — so absorbed were they in their own little dramas. Still, I had to try. After all, I had a hot game of gin rummy to return to. If only.

15 thoughts on “Tales From “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: There Are Rules, People! Rules!

  1. Louise says:

    It’s funny – we have good friends who are wait staff so we tend to be patient when it’s busy and understanding. There is one pub downtown I refer to as my husband’s daycare – ie: he waits there for me to finish work and we head home together – in the meantime I know they’re entertaining him and keeping him hydrated.

    Anyway – not to excuse the bad behaviour above (and well done for speaking out) – I have this vivid memory of dining once with my parents at a rather empty restaurant with poor service when I was about 15-16. I needed another pop, or water, or anything liquid, as I had something stuck in my throat and was in a bit of discomfort – three minutes of waving and calling did nothing, so I went behind the bar, refilled my drink, made it back to my table, and fixed my choking issue a good five minutes before any staff even noticed. When our server came by and noticed the new pop, I explained and apologized (because I know it was rude, and I could have gone downstairs to the bathroom sink, but the bar was right there beside us) and remember she looked put out. We never went back.

    The hands-down exception to the “wait your turn” rule in my case – because you should and generally your exception isn’t exceptional – but 20+ years out I’m pretty certain in the same situation, I would do the same thing.

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    • javaj240 says:

      If you have to wave your hands wildly for three minutes in a feeble attempt to procure liquids to keep yourself from choking all rules fly out the window. You were more than correct to do what you needed to do. The server should have apologized profusely, not made you feel uncomfortable. Yikes!

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      • Louise says:

        It’s the one really bad memory I have – for the most part, I’m fully onside with patience, waiting my turn, and understanding that there are other people wanting stuff too. But I NEVER forgot that meal and the “seriously, anyone?!” feeling of those moments before I went and served myself, so t speak.

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  2. LOVE this! I waited tables for years – and man, is the world lucky that there were no such things as blogs then… glad to see you took up the mantle! -Veronica

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  3. I think I have only ever done that once, and it was in a very quiet night in a local restaurant (like I may have been the only person there), the owner was waiting tables, and he seated me and then disappeared into the kitchen for a good fifteen minutes. The way this place is set up, you actually walk past an open door to the kitchen on your way to the restroom; I went and hovered out of eyeshot for a minute and it sounded like the owner and the chef were just talking shop, so I stuck my head in and asked if I might be able to place my order.

    I don’t think I would’ve had the nerve to go through a door though – probably would’ve just quietly left (although I was there ’cause I was craving a certain dish that this place makes that I love).

    Liked by 1 person

    • javaj240 says:

      Not the same situation at all. I might have done the same if I were you. This was a fairly busy lunch. Any idiot could have seen any number of employees going in and out of the kitchen on a regular basis. Neither of these guys ever took their seat at the bar or waited for all of five seconds to be greeted.

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  4. You are hilarious! I’m sure they had no clue I hate people like that. I used to work at Red Lobster and you wouldn’t believe well yes you probably would. People are nuts!

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  5. I so get it. I once worked at a Borders bookstore (I was in my 40s, not a kid) and after a couple of months I’d had it and decided that I was going to allow myself to respond bluntly, but with a smile on my face. For example, it was common for people to walk up to me and say, “I’m looking for a book…” and I’d say, “No kidding?!” Or they’d walk in, and as they were walking past me, they’d bark, “Stephen King!” And I’d say, “What about him?” And then there were the folks who’d come in with expired coupons, wanting me to bend the rules, and I’d smile and say, “Looks like you’re SOL.” The first time I did that, I actually went to the manager and told her I’d said it, before the guy I’d said it to could complain. He actually laughed.

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  6. Suzanne Fluhr says:

    It’s always good to hear from the other side of the whatever—exam table, court room bench, counter, bar, blackboard, etc. My husband has a theory that the less crowded a restaurant is, the longer it will take to be waited on. I’m always kind of surprised at how often he’s right. Just yesterday, we only got someone to take our order after 10 minutes in a very uncrowded restaurant by staring at the gaggle of servers yukking it up by the bar. Still, I’ve never had the bad manners (desperation) to actually walk into the kitchen as your “patrons” did. My husband will do his, “I’m giving them five minutes more” glance at his watch after which we just leave. BTW, I love the “advice” you gave to your alcohol junkies to send them on their way.

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    • javaj240 says:

      It was a busy lunch. There was no reason for anyone to walk into the kitchen. As far as interrupting servers who are congregated together while you are waiting to be served? Go for it. There is little reason for bad service in an uncrowded restaurant. Bad management and under-trained service staff would be my guess 🙂

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