By Allison Torres
Last week I had to endure a case of mistaken identity and this week people cannot be bothered to even remember who I am. Given, my bar is high volume and turns a lot of customers but I can damn well remember every regular, every story, and every drink. I mean… that’s my job… what kind of bartender would I be if I couldn’t do that? Of course, good bartenders can make your drinks lightning fast. Yet great bartenders are those who not only make drinks quickly, but actually engage with the patrons, make them feel welcome, and have their drink ready before they even sit down. I like to think I am the latter.
I began working happy hour shifts years ago to help build business, interact with people, and really generate a nice crowd to stir up the atmosphere. And, or course, help me from going home broke. It irks me to tears when a customer comes in and claims to be the mayor, and I’ve never seen him a day in my life. People like this run two different scenarios. Either they come in the one day I don’t work, religiously, or they drift in every so often, unnoticed, and that makes them “regular” Either way, I’m blowing the whistle on this guy. He perches at the end of the bar, holding his hands up like, “where’s my drink?” Well, seeing as though I’ve never seen you before and I’m not psychic, you have to verbally convey what you need.
Then begins the fight over the tab. We always hold a credit card for people we don’t know because, well, this is New York…it doesn’t operate on kindness and trust in strangers. Silly, I know. He argues with me how he doesn’t have to do this with anyone else and how I’m being ridiculous. At this point my bar is full and I really just don’t have time to spell it out. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. No… I’m not going to trust you to walk away without some sort of payment. Sorry. He finally coughs up the credit card after a heated debate and tosses out, “what happened to everyone who used to work here?” Now I’m really at my breaking point. “Listen, guy, I’m here five days a week and then some. Funny how I know everyone at the bar… but you. Do not tangle with me.” I put his drink on my buyback and slid his credit card right back to him. “Try your luck upstairs with the other bartender and don’t waste my time ever again.” Surprisingly, he sat patiently until I was finished, paid for every drink, and over-tipped me each time. He never spoke one more word in my direction.