Letter from the Drinking Town 14 – How we talk about bar service

Dear Worcester,

I thought I would show with you how I conduct research for this collection of letters. There is the drinking of gin and tonics at the bars of Worcester, of course. Then, there is the discussion I have afterwards. I have a little group I bounce ideas off and I air questions about the things that puzzled me at the bars.

The discussion takes place at a bar. I was with a friend and a bartender (who is also a friend, but for this letter, they will be called Friend and Bartender, got it? These things should include a dramatis personae in the first paragraph of every post). I got my beer and was asked if I had been to any bars and like that, the brain trust was called into order.

“Okay, here’s something that happened at the latest bar,” I said to the bartender. “I got a gin and tonic that was eight bucks and forty two cents. I gave a twenty. The bartender brought back eleven dollars.”

“Wait,” my friend said, “where was the change, the 58 cents.”

“That’s the thing,” I said. “It wasn’t there. He didn’t give me the change. Just the eleven dollars. But he also gave me the receipt and it said 8.42. I am only talking about half a buck here. Is that a thing. Take the change as a service charge?”

The Bartender was savvy and quickly said, “Don’t write it. Don’t include that in your blog. That was just a mistake. Was it busy?”

“Yeah, there were people and things were moving along.”

“There you go,” the Bartender said. “This was just a mistake he made. He didn’t mean to do it. Because why would he blow the chance for a 1.50 tip just by taking fifty cents. I mean, there was a chance when you noticed he shorted you, you were not going to give him anymore tip, right?”

“I thought about it.”

“And if he knew that, why would he chance that? You might not throw that dollar or even more. Why? Just to take fifty cents? Believe me, it was just a mistake. Don’t write it.” There is something endearing witnessing a bartender protecting one of his brethren. I agreed, but said I might write about it without names.

“Since we’re talking about weird bartender behavior I got a question about a waiter,” my Friend said, “I was at an Italian joint with a date. I had an appetizer, ate it with a fork. The fork was on the plate when I finished with it. The waiter came over put down my entree. Instead of giving me a new fork, he picked up the one on the appetizer plate and he didn’t put it next to the plate, he placed it right into my entree. Weird right?”

“I never would do that,” the Bartender said. “I will ask if they want a new fork. Always. And I wouldn’t put it in the food. That’s not right. It’s fine to use the same utensil, but you ask if they are good with that.”

“That’s what I thought,” my Friend said.

The Bartender went to take care of a few customers and came back when he could. “Last night was one of those nights. Crazy customers who don’t know how to behave in a bar. I had this one girl come in with some friends and she just said, ‘I want something blue.” That’s all she could identify. Something blue. I tried to be helpful. I asked her what things she like. She said she wanted something blue. Blue is not a flavor. It is a color. You don’t drink colors. Her friend had a mojito and the girl said that that looked yummy. I told her I could make a blue mojito by putting in blue curacao. She said no. She wanted something blue. I told her I could make a blue margarita. She asked me what went in that and I told her. She said that sounds great and I made it for her. She hated it. And I charged her the full amount. There are no discounts for ordering a blue drink and not liking it.”

There were more conversations and revelations as the evening went on. But that’s a bar for you. And that is how I do research for these academic entries.

Until Next Time



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