A Bartender’s Lament: Know When To Leave

Continuing with Simon’s theme of bar night life, I’m going to discuss a situation I’ve been in two out of my three times bartending. I bartend at a restaurant and only have a bar that holds nine seats, but people that come toward the end of the night love to sit in them. They love to sit in them while I wipe down the bar, the bottles, take the bar mats off and throw them in the bus bucket, move the ice so it all melts and then awkwardly stand behind the bar 2 feet away from them awaiting their departure.

It’s uncomfortable for me to say outright “Get the fuck out”, so I pray that the patron takes the hint and realizes it’s 11:00pm and time for them to go home. I had such high hopes that day for leaving relatively early. The restaurant was slow and not many people had come in after 9:30pm. While that means I make shit in tips, at least I can be in bed before midnight (which is an hour too late in my opinion). And then these people show up. At first I enjoyed their company, helped one with which direction she wanted to take her life, which career she should pursue – real bartendery stuff. When my opinion was no longer required, I left them alone. I thought they’d finish their pitcher and head home. But they had more life questions to discuss which simply could not be addressed in the comfort of either of their houses with some margarita mix and tequila. Nope! It had to be done at 10:30pm, at a closing restaurant, while the bartender looked on and held back faces of desperation.

Eventually, once the area behind the bar was cleaned (as if that wasn’t a big enough hint) the owner suggested I let them know we’re closing. Listen, if they couldn’t tell we wanted to go home then they are extremely self-centered. My friend and I go to a new restaurant every month where we “catch up” on life. To be honest, we could “catch up” five minutes after we’ve just hung out because somehow we forget to tell each other something. Anyway, we have no problem chatting for hours until the restaurant is ready to close. The difference is that we’re aware of it. We take the hint. We want the staff to like us. These two people casually ate their chips and freshly made guacamole as if they were in their living room curled up on the couch. No, dbags, you’re at a place of business that isn’t open forever. And when I know you didn’t order enough to give me a good tip then no, I do not want you staying. Sure, we had some laughs, a nice chat, perhaps bonded like only a customer and bartender can, but then respect that. I’ll make you relatively strong drinks if you leave at a reasonable hour. Does no one else in their twenties understand the value of a good night’s sleep? Oh, the humanity!

Next time you’re at a bar, or a bar at a restaurant, remember the nice people behind the bar serving you drinks want to go home, too. Be kind to your bartender, especially if you plan on coming back.

Toby

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