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The bartender hates you.
December 1, 2008 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Ever wonder how your bartender feels about you? The Bartender Hates You: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
posted by MaryDellamorte (459 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
My personal favorites are 7 and 9.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:15 AM on December 1, 2008


MaryDellamorte, in case you're wondering, is a bartender.
posted by orthogonality at 6:33 AM on December 1, 2008


Well, I kinda hate that bartender. But I can see how you'd find it funny if you were one. When I used to work sevice jobs, it always surprised me how much and how quickly I grew to hate every single customer.
posted by lunasol at 6:43 AM on December 1, 2008


I LOLed.
I don't understand people that give bartenders (and other service people) a hard time.
At the very least I wouldn't want my drink laced with visine, and if, like me, you approach drinking more as a craftsman than a hobbyist, it pays to develop strong relationships with the person calculating your tab.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:50 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd love to go to a bar where the bartender did all of that. Because, not being a dick, I know we'd get on great.

Sadly, the bar would also be perpetually empty.
posted by djgh at 6:59 AM on December 1, 2008


Man, this has been a disillusioning week. First the strippers, they hate me; thinking I'm a warm and dumb ATM. Then the bartenders, they hate me; thinking I'm a warm, dumb, drunk and asshole ATM.

Next you're gonna tell me the bouncer don't like me neither.
posted by boo_radley at 7:01 AM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


A guy walks into a bar with his pet monkey. He orders a drink and while he's drinking, the monkey starts jumping all over the place. The monkey grabs some olives off the bar and eats them, then grabs some sliced limes and eats them, then jumps up on the pool table, grabs the cue ball, sticks it in his mouth and swallows it whole.

The bartender screams at the guy, "Did you see what your monkey just did?" The guy says, "No, what?" "He just ate the cue ball off my pool table - whole!" says the bartender. "Yeah, that doesn't surprise me," replies the patron. "He eats everything in sight, the little twerp. I'll pay for the cue ball and stuff." He finishes his drink, pays his bill, and leaves.

Two weeks later he's in the bar again, and he has his monkey with him. He orders a drink and the monkey starts running around the bar again. While the man is drinking, the monkey finds a maraschino cherry on the bar. He grabs it, sticks it up his butt, pulls it out, and eats it. The bartender is disgusted. "Did you see what your monkey did now?" "Now what?" asks the patron. "Well, he stuck a maraschino cherry up his butt, then pulled it out and ate it!" says the barkeeper.

"Yeah, that doesn't surprise me," replies the patron. "He still eats everything in sight, but ever since he ate that damn cue ball he measures everything first!"
posted by netbros at 7:06 AM on December 1, 2008 [118 favorites]


I think 'The Bartender is a Total Dick' might have worked better as a title. One or two of the customers could have asked nicer, but sheesh.

Do these have a point? I mean, I used to work bar and had customers who got on my nerves, and once or twice had the pleasure of seeing a customer who was being unbearable get booted out by my manager, but this is just some dude being a total misanthrope.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:09 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I always found it unusual that service industry people get all bent out of shape when customers require service, which is essentially their raison d'être.

In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment. I don't know. But there certainly is a litany of waiter rants, bartenders pissed off about tips, and lots of hand waving and seemingly hyperbolic cries of anguish. Imagine if a doctor flipped over an instrument table, or a dentists said "fuck it" and just walked away from the drill in your mouth.

When I was a student I worked in a coffee place, but I always enjoyed meeting people. Maybe when you hit 30 it begins to not be so great.
posted by plexi at 7:11 AM on December 1, 2008 [20 favorites]


This was great...and some were very true.
posted by schyler523 at 7:12 AM on December 1, 2008


Yes, yes we do.
posted by ZaneJ. at 7:14 AM on December 1, 2008


I don't understand people that give bartenders (and other service people) a hard time.

When you get paid to serve people stuff that impairs their judgment, speech, coordination, and vision and reduces their inhibitions, you have to expect a lot of your customers to act like uninhibited people with poor judgment, speech, coordination, and vision. You could cut them off early, but if you don't serve them, the next bar will, you'll lose business, and, unless it's your place, I guess you'll lose your job.

But I do like 7.
posted by pracowity at 7:18 AM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Awww, shucks. And here I thought we were getting along so well.
posted by Evangeline at 7:19 AM on December 1, 2008


I brought my bartender thanksgiving leftovers cause he was working all night on the 27th.

I don't think he hates me.
posted by The Whelk at 7:21 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


That kinda makes me regret tipping so many bartenders so very, very well over the years.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:22 AM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Whatever, that was funny. Most of them were so over the top, it was obvious that it was the bartender who was being a dick and not the customer. Sometimes he's channeling the popular rage, sometimes it's a total "WTF is wrong with this guy?" thing.

Garnish with beans.
posted by hermitosis at 7:25 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That kinda makes me regret tipping so many bartenders so very, very well over the years.

That was the effect I was afraid these videos would have.
Guys, not all bartenders are assholes. Treat your bartender well, and he or she will probably do the same.

I had some links to bar etiquette somewhere but seem to have misplaced them. Anyone want to help me out?
Also the videos are pretty good reminders in bar etiquette, which perhaps is a reason behind why they were created.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:29 AM on December 1, 2008


Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment.

Drug-addled or not, I suspect any bartender finding a sober regiment in his bar might get a little testy.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:37 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


And you can't find your waitress with a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends and you just can't get served without her

posted by mandal at 7:41 AM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job.

You've never actually worked a service job.

(That's an assertion, not a question.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:44 AM on December 1, 2008 [49 favorites]


Why would I care what someone who pours liquid in a cup for a living thinks about me?
posted by ND¢ at 7:44 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why would I care what someone who pours liquid in a cup for a living thinks about me?

This is an excellent question which you should ask your bartender before ordering.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:46 AM on December 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


Why would I care what someone who pours liquid in a cup for a living thinks about me?

They do not just pour liquid in a cup. They pour Liquid Happiness in a cup.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 AM on December 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Difficulty placing sympathy with the bartender. Some scenarios? Dude should just deal with it. It's his job. Outside cases of outright rudeness from the customer I guess I don't see the reason for much of this. Although, yes, I get it, it's for humor. Tee-hee.

As an aside, having worked retail and food services pretty substantially back in the day, you really have to judge things case-by-case. I have worked with people in large department stores (usually seasonal, because otherwise I really hope they wouldn't be hired) who spent at least a good third of their shift either smoking outside or being completely MIA on the floor. One woman was most fond of hanging out in the dressing room on her cell phone, and then stealing merchandise whenever she got the chance to slip away from her boyfriend's calls. Seasonal work, especially, seems to attract people whose primary concern is getting holiday discounts (legitimate or five-fingered) so that they can get what they need and get out. In some respects I have sympathy, as I'm not horribly defensive of large corporations, myself, but at the same time it's a pain in my ass to have to cover them while they're off looking for Christmas gifts during their shift.

But then, I've also been yelled at for not making ice cream fast enough (seriously? Ice cream is a happy food) and railed on for about fifteen minutes for a change in company policy I had absolutely no control over. Among other things. So, yes, customers obviously can be legitimate assbags, and no, the customer is not always right.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:52 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment. I don't know. But there certainly is a litany of waiter rants, bartenders pissed off about tips, and lots of hand waving and seemingly hyperbolic cries of anguish. Imagine if a doctor flipped over an instrument table, or a dentists said "fuck it" and just walked away from the drill in your mouth.

Well, I work the standard daytime office job these days, but as a teen and a college student, I worked plenty of service jobs--burger flipping, pizza delivery, gas station/C-Store clerking, library circulation, customer service/tech support, etc.

And while there are certainly plenty of service employees that have misanthropy issues and other problems just as you described, the other half of the truth is that Randal Graves is correct, too. Some customers are just pricks.
posted by spirit72 at 7:53 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the humor in these videos comes from the shock value of breaking the social norm. It's all farting in elevators type situations. Plus stereotypes of annoying people let you sometimes side with the outrageous actions of the bartender.

That said, numbers 10 and 11 sum up my favorite bartender. But most of the bartenders I've worked with are much more passive aggressive, doing things like putting their friend's drinks on your tab if you're too drunk to notice.

I was working at an Irish bar on St. Paddy's Day, there was a little guy who fought his way up the bar and asked for a rum and diet coke. It's bad enough that 75% of the St. Patrick's Day crowd drinks Miller Light and asks, "where's the green beer?" (like that never gets old) so people who order mixed drinks really are particularly annoying. When this little guy fought his way back up the the bar to say that his diet coke was flat, I wasn't surprised to see my favorite bartender put a straw in his drink, blow into it, then return the drink saying, "there's your fucking bubbles." That was awesome.

And my experience agrees with plexi concerning substance abuse problems and inability to hold down a 9 to 5. Most of the regulars have a substance abuse problem while holding down a 9 to 5.
posted by peeedro at 7:54 AM on December 1, 2008


plexi: Maybe standard daytime office jobs are stuffed with those who gave up on their dreams—and the service industry jobs that pay the rent while they chase them.
posted by sixswitch at 7:54 AM on December 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


I practice what I believe is good bar etiquette (previous AskMe) and even though my drinking schedule has changed due to a new job and actually being married, many of my old bartenders still remember me and greet me by name when I show up. I'm not racking up the Frequent Drinker Miles that would net me free beers like I used to, but I'm sure my liver is glad for that.

Maybe it's my age showing, but I've become pretty intolerant of many 'hipster' bars in the Boston area. I'm not a cocktail drinker, so I mainly interact with the hipster dive bars at a beer level. For example, it will be a desperate day before I ever go back to Bukowskis in Inman Square. Slow service when it's busy is fine, but slow service when the bar is all but empty and a bartender and waitress are casually flipping through a CD holder to see what record they're going to play way too loud next? I guess I could be an asshole too, but I don't want to risk there being still-yet-even-more head on my overpriced beer.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:57 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was already aware of this. Except for that cute redheaded one...she really likes me I'm pretty positive.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:57 AM on December 1, 2008


You wait till you've given them crabs. Then you'll really know hatred.
posted by gman at 7:57 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Huh

I guess I'll stay home with a 6-pack and Left 4 Dead instead.
posted by hellojed at 8:00 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is an excellent question which you should ask your bartender before ordering.

Converse with the help?
posted by ND¢ at 8:02 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


These are all over the place, in half of the videos the bartender is just as big an unjustified jerk as his patrons. Which actually feeds into my biases against bartenders, so hurrah!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:04 AM on December 1, 2008


When this little guy fought his way back up the the bar to say that his diet coke was flat, I wasn't surprised to see my favorite bartender put a straw in his drink, blow into it, then return the drink saying, "there's your fucking bubbles." That was awesome.

Awesome is not the first word that comes to mind. Asking for soda that's not flat is not exactly a "beyond the pale" request. For that matter, neither is asking for a mixed drink, even if the bartender is stressed and it's more trouble than handing someone a bottle. IT'S A BAR.

And yes, I've worked in the service industry. I was a waitress for far too long.
posted by Evangeline at 8:04 AM on December 1, 2008 [24 favorites]


I guess I'll stay home with a 6-pack and Left 4 Dead instead.

Why go out to a bar with your friends when you can blast zombies with them instead?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:05 AM on December 1, 2008


Painfully unfunny. And I've worked retail for 25 years.
posted by Manhasset at 8:06 AM on December 1, 2008


Maybe standard daytime office jobs are stuffed with those who gave up on their dreams—and the service industry jobs that pay the rent while they chase them.

I work a nine-to-five job and still have time to produce and act in three Off-off-Broadway shows a year. It can be done. In fact, most of the actors I know work office jobs.
posted by Evangeline at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2008


Correction: Shitty bartenders and shitty waiter hate you. But don't feel bad, they hate themselves even more.
posted by any major dude at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


In fact, most of the actors I know work office jobs.

I work with several aspiring actors. I occasionally tell them to act like they're working.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 AM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


It's bad enough that 75% of the St. Patrick's Day crowd drinks Miller Light and asks, "where's the green beer?" (like that never gets old) so people who order mixed drinks really are particularly annoying.

A rum and coke through this guy for a loop? He needs to find another job.
posted by spaltavian at 8:15 AM on December 1, 2008 [18 favorites]


* threw, obviously
posted by spaltavian at 8:16 AM on December 1, 2008


netbros, with a few minor working adjustments that's my favorite bar/bartender joke. Thanks!
posted by kalessin at 8:17 AM on December 1, 2008


Confucius sat outside of the gates of the city, watching visitors arrive. One visitor approached the old man and greeted him with a question:

"Old man, tell me something. What sort of people will I meet in this city?"

Confucius reflected on this for a moment, then asked the traveler, "What sort of people did you meet in the last city you visited?"

"God, that whole city was miserable. The people were rude, and they were mean to strangers, and nobody did anything to make me feel welcome. I'm telling you, people from that city are just plain rotten."

Confucius shook his head sadly at this tale, and with a heavy heart informed the visitor: "I'm sorry to say this, but that's the same kind of people you'll meet in this city, too."

Hours passed, and Confucius continued to sit outside of the city gates. Another visitor approached him.

"Pardon me, sir, I'm sorry to bother you, but can I ask you a question? Would you mind telling me what sort of people will I meet in this city?"

Confucius asked the second traveler, "What sort of people did you meet in the last city you visited?"

"Oh, that city was wonderful...I hated to leave. The people were so generous, and they were kind to everyone, even strangers, and everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome. The people from that city were wonderful."

Confucius nodded happily as he heard these words, then told the visitor with a smile: "Then that's the same kind of people you'll meet in this city, too."
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:20 AM on December 1, 2008 [112 favorites]


No, White Power Bill hates White Power Bill.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:23 AM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


I work with several aspiring actors. I occasionally tell them to act like they're working.

"Bosses are the worst, aren't they? I always got this one:

"Hicks, why aren't you working?"
"'Cause there's nothing to do!"
"Well then, you pretend like you're working."
"Why don't you pretend I'm working? I'll pretend they're buying shit, we can close up and go home. Hey, let's pretend I'm the boss and you're fired. It's your fantasy.""

-Bill Hicks
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:24 AM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ian A.T. writes "Confucius nodded happily as he heard these words, then told the visitor with a smile: 'Then that's the same kind of people you'll meet in this city, too.'"

That's pretty racist, to imply that all Chinese people are two-faced.
posted by orthogonality at 8:25 AM on December 1, 2008


Always remember to wear pants.

Don't ask me how I know this.
posted by Samizdata at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2008


so people who order mixed drinks really are particularly annoying.

I know I've had issues transitioning from the zen-like mental state required to remove caps from bottles, to the frenetic cerebral pace of pouring one fucking liquid into another. I totally understand the outrage.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:29 AM on December 1, 2008 [18 favorites]


I always found it unusual that service industry people get all bent out of shape when customers require service, which is essentially their raison d'être.

Dude - dude - elbow - off the bar.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:30 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I work with several aspiring actors. I occasionally tell them to act like they're working.

I once did temp work with an aspiring comedian. Given his annoying banter and general incompetence, I was fairly sure that his work was more laughable than his comedy routine.
posted by googly at 8:33 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty: I'm not the boss, I'm just older and bigger than most of them. One advantage of getting older is that some young people believe that everything you say is the wisdom of the ages. I occasionally make up shit just to see if they act on it.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Folks, a well trained bartender is something to be treasured. What I mean by trained is the bartender who 'forgets' to ring up those 2 or 3 PBRs, who pours a generous shot, who knows the pace of the table, etc. When one has worked months to train a bartender, and everything just ticks, all the world is a wonderful place.

I used to work in a place that was voted to have the most surly help several years in a row. A badge of honor amongst alumnae.
posted by Gungho at 8:40 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I work with several aspiring actors. I occasionally tell them to act like they're working.

Yeah, yeah - and while we're actor-bashing, how many actors does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Five - one to screw it in and four more to stand back and say, "I could have done that better."
posted by Evangeline at 8:47 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I always found it unusual that service industry people get all bent out of shape when customers require service, which is essentially their raison d'être.

Most people with this attitude are the same asshole customers that get service industry people bent out of shape. Service doesn't equate to bending over backwards for you. When something doesn't go your way it doesn't mean you can act like an ass.

service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment

Yeah this pretty much proves you're one of those asshole customers.

there certainly is a litany of waiter rants, bartenders pissed off about tips, and lots of hand waving and seemingly hyperbolic cries of anguish.

There certainly is a litany of employee rants, office employees pissed off about whatever and lots of hand waving and seemingly hyperbolic cries of anguish.

Rants aren't just for service people. A lot of people hate their job, even in the medical field.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:49 AM on December 1, 2008 [14 favorites]


Heh. and how do you get an actor off your porch? You pay for your pizza.

(truth be told, the actors are easier to deal with as co-workers than the writers or musicians. It's only those who have no aspirations of a future whatsoever who have a firm grip on the situation)
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's pretty racist, to imply that all Chinese people are two-faced.

I can't tell if you really don't get the point or if you're trolling.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:51 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


My bartender is, in fact, a complete jerk; he shouts obscenities at anyone nearby, he gets belligerent if people interrupt him, he's always talking about how he's "gonna get even with all those bastards", and I'm pretty sure that most of the time, he's probably as drunk as I am.

Did I mention that I only drink alone at home? Because that might be relevant.
posted by quin at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2008 [20 favorites]


Number 9 is the best one by far.This method of dealing with idiotic loud females should be spread far and wide.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:53 AM on December 1, 2008


I always found it unusual that service industry people get all bent out of shape when customers require service, which is essentially their raison d'être.

It's because a certain percentage of customers are jerks, and it really wears you down.

I've spent the past two years as a barista making espresso drinks and smoothies for customers as well as cashing out their groceries. We had regulars who worked in town and understood what Bar Harbor service jobs were about- they were fun to talk to and I always went out of my way to help them.

And then there's the other people.
There's the wealthy older people who would come in and start yelling at the other customers ahead of them because they wanted to cut everyone else in line, pronto. There's the people who would come in with a Volvo-load of kids, order sixty bucks of smoothies, pull a big handful of change out of their pockets, and then slowly plunk two pennies into the tip jar.

After having to deal with all that crap, if someone comes up and asks "do you make espresso?" you're probably going to tell them the big shiny machine behind you is just there for decoration.

The biggest problem I had with my Bar Harbor service job was the disparity of wealth. I was working for poverty-level wages in 85-degree heat and had to jump and scramble for all these rich people from New York wearing "Life is Good" shirts, driving cars that cost more than my parent's house is worth.

So yeah, that's why your bartender/waitress/barista hates you. They have to deal with a bunch of people who are oblivious and inconsiderate and have a whole lot more money than you do. In my case, I wasn't able to visit any friends over the summer because my hours were so fucked up.

Interestingly enough, it was the locals who actually bothered tipping.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:54 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I had high hopes for these but they were a bit of a letdown. My favorite bartending story is from the last bartending shift I ever worked about 2 years ago. I had alot of friends come down to the bar to visit on my last day. The bar was pretty crowded, there were a bunch of dudes pre-funking before a concert down the block. One of the guys bought an entire round for his friend, about 6 drinks, then left me a big fat goose egg for a tip on his credit card. I was pissed, but what are you gonna do? I'd been stiffed many times over the years this was just another one. Besides, I was never gonna see the guy again. Or was I?

2 hours later the concerts over and the guy comes back in with his friends. They all come up to the bar to order, we're still pretty packed. I see one of the guys polling the others on what they wanted. The guy who stiffed me orders a gin and tonic. They point man says to me I'll take 2 blah-blahs, a whatever, another whatever, and a gin and tonic. I said "I'll make you all those drinks except for HIS gin and tonic", naturally pointing finger at cheapskate. Look of utter bewilderment. "What? What did I do". I reached in my pocket and took out his $48 credit card slip with the zero tip and said "does this look familiar"? They all crowded around and man, they gave him the business better than I ever could have."What!? You stiffed him? What the fuck is wrong with you! Always tip your bartender!" Etc, etc. So the new guy gives me a ten and apologizes and says "so we'll take that gin and tonic now too". And I said, "This is my last day. Late tip or no late tip, there will be no drinking in this bar for your friend tonight. You can yell and screm and call my boss and write any bad review on the internet you want. I've been bartending for 10 years and had to suck it up and keep my mouth shut for every bad or zero tip I ever got, and tonight YOU are going to suffer the consequences for that.
posted by vito90 at 8:54 AM on December 1, 2008 [32 favorites]


service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment

Yeah this pretty much proves you're one of those asshole customers.


Heh. JakeEXTREME is a former service industry co-worker of mine. The anti-service worker comments I'm hearing here reinforce my long held belief that the 'Customer is Always Right,' philosophy has bred a generation of entitled brats who want people to wipe their ass for them. Thankfully, my current service industry job is in a place famous for it's gruff and surly attitude, which allows us some leeway to be human beings rather than grinning Stepinfetchitbots.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 AM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Oh come on. It's not like those videos depict normal bartender behavior. It's more like the fantasies all bartenders have while dealing with what sometimes seems like an endless parade of irritating and rude customers.

As for the "kind of people" who work in the service industry... Well, I'd rather deal with them than the kind of people who make sweeping negative generalizations about an entire industry.
posted by Wroughtirony at 8:58 AM on December 1, 2008 [12 favorites]


plexi: In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment. I don't know.
It's because a disgustingly significant percentage of service industry people are sub-clinical sociopaths. There are exceptions- and those people either leave the service industry jobs or progress quickly in the industry, getting the plum gigs and keeping them because they are committed to what they do. They are the folks like Gungho describes, who can make any drink quickly and without snark or the felonious addition of Visine. They are the ones that recognize good customers and good regulars, and treat them accordingly, and if a customer is so bad they don't feel they can serve them they'd rather just ask the person to leave than to play head games or fuck with their food/drinks. Yes there are entitled assholes on the customer side, but you simply do your job and let it slide. Being a bigger asshole, or committing crimes- they are crimes, yes?- of spitting in food/adding Visine, or willfully overcharging them seems to be a rather extreme reaction to someone who's basically a jerk.

If a customer re-orders a drink for a good reason- such as flat mixers, etc- it shouldn't be a huge problem to simply remake it. It's your job, just like the rest of us have jobs that aren't always some Mr. Rogers fantasy of 8x5 perfection. And if it's crazy busy and that frazzles you, well then either enjoy the larger share of tip money, or direct your anger towards the owner who's making tens of thousands of extra dollars in his pocket a year by understaffing- and not the customer who's simply trying to have a nice evening. Christ, service industry people are stupid.

And I know the talentless losers who work in the service industry will chime in to say that's wrong, but the fact is these are people who get increasingly pissed off at the world because they aren't the shining beacon of art school talent they thought they were. Their dreams are done because the actually talented, motivated people are out there doing it, while they're stuck being angry at everyone who dares to expect a reliable exchange of goods and services for cash!

They are fueled by lines of coke and too much time binging on the industry-only speakeasies, they are hypersensitive to the smallest imagined slight, they gleefully use con artistry to try to boost their tips, and their willingness to even consider tampering with food or drinks simply because someone upset them is literally the mindset of a child or a sociopath (the two being, for all intents and purposes, the same thing).
posted by hincandenza at 9:05 AM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


I've found that if you're nice about it, friendly, you can win service people over to you. You may not get discounts or anything, but they will try to do things quickly for you. And if you're nice about a mistake, they're cool. If you're an asshole, well, they will be too.

Common sense people.
posted by Hactar at 9:08 AM on December 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


Pope Guilty writes "I can't tell if you really don't get the point or if you're trolling."

Roseanne Roseannadanna.
posted by orthogonality at 9:09 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


hincandenza, don't be a jerk.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:10 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


After having to deal with all that crap, if someone comes up and asks "do you make espresso?" you're probably going to tell them the big shiny machine behind you is just there for decoration.

I finally got one of you.

Take yourself out of your body, and pretend that you are a person who doesn't spend the majority of your waking hours at your place of work. Now that you've done that, ask yourself what would be the logical way to determine whether or not this new coffee establishment you've set foot in would be able to serve you an espresso. Should you scan the entire place looking for evidence of an espresso machine, perhaps look at the menu board, or wait and listen for espresso sounds? Every store is different, and coffee machines usually have ten different machines on the counter that do god knows what. Or should you spend 10 seconds asking someone who is most likely an expert of what this store offers?
posted by sleslie at 9:14 AM on December 1, 2008 [16 favorites]


This is pretty much why I avoid going to bars in general.
posted by champthom at 9:15 AM on December 1, 2008


"and tonight YOU are going to suffer the consequences for that."

So, the guy's friends agree with you, berate him "better than [you] could have," then try to make amends by going ahead and giving you the tip you deserved. And you still act like a dick and take out ten years of frustration on undeserving apparently decent guys (most of them anyways). Classy.
posted by oddman at 9:16 AM on December 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Take yourself out of your body, and pretend that you are a person who doesn't spend the majority of your waking hours at your place of work.

Yeah, it's fun to pretend to be a fictional character.
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


You've got a point.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:16 AM on December 1, 2008


a rum and diet coke. It's bad enough

"Brring, ring! Cox here. About the rum and coke issue. Couldn't be more confused."
posted by roystgnr at 9:21 AM on December 1, 2008


Looks like metafilter has a case of the mondays.
posted by hellojed at 9:26 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Their dreams are done because the actually talented, motivated people are out there doing it, while they're stuck being angry at everyone who dares to expect a reliable exchange of goods and services for cash!

Whether they're in office jobs or service jobs, there are a lot of very talented people who will never get that lucky break. It has less to do with motivation or talent and a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time, having a rich daddy who pays your rent while you audition all day, or better yet, coming from a family that already has connections in the business. The percentage of actors in New York who actually make a living doing it is about 2%.
posted by Evangeline at 9:29 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Brring, ring! Cox here.

When I worked at a computer store, I had a boss who's last name was Cox. One day, I got a call from a woman who had a problem with her system. Company ettiquette said that you handed such calls off to the original salesperson. I asked the lady who had sold her the system. "Ummm. ummm...I don't remember the first name. You have a Cox there?" It took every once of restraint in my being to refrain from saying "Biggest one you ever saw, honey!"
posted by jonmc at 9:30 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


My old cable/internet service was called Cox. One of the commericals ends with the phrase "Generation Cox is coming, are you ready?"

Always good for a giggle.
posted by hellojed at 9:33 AM on December 1, 2008


hincandenza, why so angry? Guilty conscience perhaps?

The simple truth is that the increasing belief of self entitlement, the feelings of others be damned, is the root of any dispute in regards to the service employee/customer. Some employees think they can get away with doing nothing. They should be fired. Some customers think they deserve preferential treatment over everyone else. They should get a clue, they're not the special little butterfly their parents said they were.

It's a shame that the average customer and the average employee get a bad name because of the actions of the few. When I spent my days making pizza for people in a department store, most of the customers were great. The ones that weren't great were so rude and mean that it could ruin the rest of my work day. Which in turn made me one of those grumpy lousy employees.

Perhaps if everyone could get off their high horse and be respectful of each other then none of this would be an issue. Ah, the dream.

For the record I do not support any 'gunslinger justice' directed at customers although a healthy laugh with your coworkers at the customers expense is fine by me.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 9:36 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hactar : I've found that if you're nice about it, friendly, you can win service people over to you. You may not get discounts or anything, but they will try to do things quickly for you. And if you're nice about a mistake, they're cool. If you're an asshole, well, they will be too.

In the past couple of years, I've started doing something which completely disarms most service people; I greet them warmly and directly, making eye contact (though not long enough to demand further conversation if they don't want it.) and when my transaction is complete, I thank them with a smile (and more eye contact.). I try hard to make sure that it's not the standard "thankshaveaniceday" that they usually get, but an honest comment on my gratefulness for them helping me.

At first I did this just because people didn't expect it, and I usually could get a smile out of them. Now it's just a habit, but one that seems to have an upside. I've noticed that more often than not, when there is some kind of problem at a place I frequent, I get extra service; if there was a long wait, or an obnoxious customer in front of me, or whatever, the server will take an extra second with me. (occasionally I get free fries too, which is just way beyond awesome.)

I like to think it's reciprocal; I was doing it for no other reason than to make their day better, they are sort of doing the same thing back to me.
posted by quin at 9:36 AM on December 1, 2008 [27 favorites]


A lot of people really suck at The Golden Rule.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:48 AM on December 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


hincandenza, your point that food-related mischief is a crime rather than a small victory or a funny story is well-taken. And you may have encountered many borderline sociopaths in service jobs. Also, within the schema you've presented, I'm a no-talent loser. If that invalidates the following message for you, you can go ahead and skip it.

However, besides sociopaths, the service industry is also staffed with newcomers to a country or state or city, who don't have the linguistic proficiency, connections, or knowledge of local resources to get easier, better-paid jobs.

Also those who are caregivers, or simply those who have other commitments. They need work that isn't demanding, fast-paced, or specialized, so that they can swap shifts, or work late/early to accommodate their young children/elderly parents/partners/term papers.

These people do not progress or get plum jobs because they don't want them or can't accomodate them.

There are also those who don't have artificial signifiers of human worth that are sometimes needed to get plum jobs (hBAs) or the money needed to obtain these signifiers.

Also those who, yes, consider themselves to have some 'beacon of artschool talent' - something that, even if it truly exists, takes time, endurance, and luck to turn into a day job. Your screen name is taken from the work of an author who I think handed out towels at a spa after his first novel came out. But maybe a less personal and more general example is my roommate, who went to one of the most exclusive play writing programs in the country and regularly gets artistic work; she cares about her work more than her waitressing, but the former just doesn't pay the bills, and the latter is flexible and dependable.

These people (or, hell, any old barista or bartender or waitress) can get tired and aggravated and lash out because they mostly work exactly as you described in the first paragraph - they identify people who are particularly good for a business and befriend them. They essentially function as a company's ingratiation organ. It is tiring to do this, to adopt caring or a verisimilitude of caring towards people because they order expensive coffee or three pints with some regularity, to pretend that you want to know how their day is going.

I'm not saying that this is the only explanation for service workers talking down to customers, and I'm not saying that service industry workers (I tried to come up with a general abbreviation but the best I could do was 'servants', which is a bit loaded) never truly care, but appearing to care, even a little bit, even for a few customers a day, makes you doubt the validity of your own friendships and their motives. Service is practice in socializing by rote, in complimenting by habit, in indulging pettiness with joy. These basic, polite kinds of dishonesty crop up almost every day in almost everyone's life, but polite dishonesty is the core skill of a good service employee. Admittedly, I can only speak from my own anecdotal experience and that of my friends, but that experience is overwhelmingly represented by this paragraph.

Are you sure that you've got the flow of cause and effect right, that surly, mean, and ambivalent people go to the service industry, rather than come from it?
posted by goldfinches at 9:56 AM on December 1, 2008 [23 favorites]


In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job.

Let me put your suspicions to rest: it's precisely because so many also have daytime jobs and/or fulfilling art careers -- things that actually matter to them and potentially the world at large -- that it's difficult not to roll their eyes when people get all somber and disapproving at the news that there might be a "ten to fifteen minute" wait for a table. (Oh God!)
posted by salvia at 10:01 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


In the past couple of years, I've started doing something which completely disarms most service people; I greet them warmly and directly, making eye contact (though not long enough to demand further conversation if they don't want it.) and when my transaction is complete, I thank them with a smile (and more eye contact.). I try hard to make sure that it's not the standard "thankshaveaniceday" that they usually get, but an honest comment on my gratefulness for them helping me.

I make a point of being warm and friendly to service workers, and think people who don't are assholes. When you interact with a cashier, waitress, bartender, or whatever, you are interacting with someone who is working at their job, and it's probably a shitty job that barely pays and surrounds them with managers, coworkers, and customers who treat them like garbage. I feel like doing my best to not contribute to that is the least I can do.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:14 AM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


My old cable/internet service was called Cox.

I happen to work in an area that is serviced by Cox. What's worse, my job often entails working with them to smooth installation for my customers, so I'm constantly jumping through hoops to satisfy my clients' desire for Cox.
posted by contraption at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Excellent post, thank you. I'm a bartender and sometimes had the wish to act out some of those clips, especially no. 9.
Mostly our patrons are the nicest people, and if somebody wants a refill because the drink was flat I wouldn't complain. But somebody someone comes in who you immediately dislike, and 90% you are right and sure enough he/she turns out to be an arrogant prick (a hincandenza personality) who wants to tell you how to do your job, and how insanely grateful I should be that they even grace me with their invaluable presence and that I'm going to loose turnover now...
But I'd rather make 10 bucks less then get insulted by a self-important asshole who thinks he's something better because he doesn't have to work in a bar for a living.
posted by kolophon at 10:16 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I am always nice to service people. They are people, too. On very rare occasions they are not nice back, but most of the time you can see a change when they realize I am treating them like a human being rather than a (thing) vending machine.

It is really obvious at the Whole Foods in my town. There am I, surrounded by impatient hateful upper middle class people who will take any flaw in service to lose their minds over an AVOCADO with a SPECK OF DUST ON IT MY GOD. And there I am, trying to be polite and considerate. I smile and thank the people working there and look them in the eye. It is funny how visible it is when I interact with them after a more typical customer; they shift slightly, and you can see the person they are behind their employee shell. I'm not one of those 'let me be your best friend' customers that are so annoying, either. I just treat the staff like people who are doing a hard job.

Kindness and courtesy are usually rewarded. And if someone is trapped in a position where they cannot reciprocate rudeness, it is even more important not to abuse that relationship of power. If people are there to serve you, you should recognize their service has dignity. It doesn't take any more effort, just a modicum of self-control.

But self-control is unfashionable these days.
posted by winna at 10:18 AM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


Would it be passive aggressive to suggest some of the more vitriolic posts contain a bit of this.
posted by secondhand at 10:21 AM on December 1, 2008


I'm shocked more bartenders aren't dicks. I usually encounter very nice ones. Since they're often clever sorts who have something they prefer to do with their time, and that's why they choose jobs that are light on the hours, heavy on the cash, and they probably develop the assumption pretty quickly that everyone around them is operating at below capacity, while often having to be some kind of hipster hotnessmonkey at the same time, the job seems designed to create condescending misanthropes. Maybe that in and of itself is why we tip them so well.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:25 AM on December 1, 2008


"somebody"->"sometimes"
posted by kolophon at 10:26 AM on December 1, 2008


Christ, it's threads like this that makes me glad I don't ever tip.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:29 AM on December 1, 2008


*ducks behind the bar*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:30 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry for my disgruntled and grammatically confused post above.
I'm writing this on the computer behind the bar and don't have the time to tidy up my posts, because I'm especially attentive and friendly to my customers right now...
posted by kolophon at 10:32 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ, it's threads like this that makes me glad I don't ever tip.

Not tipping when you can afford to is a form of theft.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:32 AM on December 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


*comes back up, steals bottle of rum*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:33 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Find me a bartender instead of a glorified and overpaid beverage dealer, I'll treat him or her well. Find me a bartender who measures drinks, instead of using a speed pour and counting to three. Find me a bartender who doesn't assume that a martini is a shot of vodka sans vermouth, and takes the time to ask how you like it. Show me a bartender who even knows where the Galliano is on the shelf without searching for it for fifteen minutes because he doesn't know what it's distinctive bottle looks like and has never tried it before. Show me a bartender who knows the vermouth should be refrigerated. Show me a bartender who makes his own simple sugar, and uses fresh squeezed fruit juices, and knows how to cut a garnish, instead of randomly dumping sweet shit and expensive shit in a martini glass and then charging you $15 and expecting a $3 tip. That's the bartender that will get my respect.

Everyone else is just a combination drug dealer and body guard, and they're only function is to keep the alcoholics from simply storming the shelves and drinking everything in site. They don't know anything about the craft of cocktails, they don't know anything about liquor, and all they know about customer service is that the customer deserves as little as they can get, while the bartender apparently earns every dollar he makes and doesn't reporter merely for being able to sluice rum and coke together.

I have no patience for this shit. It's bush league.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:34 AM on December 1, 2008 [43 favorites]


dunkadunc:

It's because a certain percentage of customers are jerks, and it really wears you down.

I've spent the past two years as a barista making espresso drinks and smoothies for customers as well as cashing out their groceries. We had regulars who worked in town and understood what Bar Harbor service jobs were about- they were fun to talk to and I always went out of my way to help them.

And then there's the other people.
There's the wealthy older people who would come in and start yelling at the other customers ahead of them because they wanted to cut everyone else in line, pronto. There's the people who would come in with a Volvo-load of kids, order sixty bucks of smoothies, pull a big handful of change out of their pockets, and then slowly plunk two pennies into the tip jar.

After having to deal with all that crap, if someone comes up and asks "do you make espresso?" you're probably going to tell them the big shiny machine behind you is just there for decoration.


A couple of years ago I was in a bookstore; of course as required by law, all bookstores must now also be espresso bars. As I was browsing, a Patrician Woman of a Certain Age approached the counter and asked for her double-half-fat mocchiata whatever, and the millenial kid behind the counter began to make it for her. The PWoCA added a requirement: "Oh, and you can you be a dear and make it extra hot? Thanks a bunch."

The kid behind the counter said, "It comes in only one temperature, ma'am."

"No," she insisted, "Last week I came in and they did something to make it extra hot."

"It is boiling water, ma'am."

"Look, I want it extra hot!"

I was strongly tempted to intervene and point out that unless the barista were to change the barometric pressure of the mall, water was going to boil at the same temperature for her drink as anyone else's. However, she stamped her little feet at her inability to get it the way she wanted and stormed out, tossing threats over her shoulder about calling the manager.

The curious thing is that precisely one hundred percent of the service industry people I know say, upon hearing that story, that the kid should have twiddled some random knobs and announced that he would have to charge her fifty cents extra for the extra hot drink.



That said, bartenders are to the food and beverage service industry as lead guitarists are to bands: equipped with a self-bestowed mystique taken seriously only by themselves and a few naifs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:36 AM on December 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


I would like to see this series expanded to include all existent jobs, as well as various ways and means of not actually working.

Scene - Guy lying on couch, watching TV. Roommate enters.

Roommate: Sooo...
Guy: Soooo. So. So. So fuck off already. Fuck off! Get out of here!
posted by stinkycheese at 10:37 AM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


#9: Word.
posted by rusty at 10:39 AM on December 1, 2008


In video #7, the guy on the phone is giving directions to La Cienega, a street in Los Angeles. The bartender is clearly a struggling actor or screenwriter.

Now I understand why he is such a dick.
posted by cazoo at 10:43 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Show me a bartender who makes his own simple sugar, and uses fresh squeezed fruit juices, and knows how to cut a garnish,

you also demand that your toilet paper be hand woven by Guatemalan peasants on a precisely strung loom from recycled parchment, right? Just sit back and drink your damn draft already.
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on December 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


Here's the other thing that bothers me. Yes, people in the service industry have to deal with assholes. I know, I know, I've been there. It's terrible, yes. People are thoughtless and rude and stupid. Okay, but here's the issue:

That's true on every job I have ever had, whatever industry I have been in. When I was editor in chief of a newspaper, I dealt with schmucks and morons and bullies all day long. I am now a Web editor. Same deal. I was a box office manager for a nightclub a few years ago. Yep. Same deal. I'm, sure dentists get it, bus drivers get it, and photographers get it. But the service industry is the only place I have ever worked where a certain percentage of people think they have the right to be equally unpleasant as a result, and that it is, in fact, a sign of character.

It's not. In most other businesses, you would get fired for behavior that it entirely tolerable in the service industry. And I have never had a businessman mistreat me and then follow me out to my car in a rage because I didn't tip him.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:52 AM on December 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


you also demand that your toilet paper be hand woven by Guatemalan peasants on a precisely strung loom from recycled parchment, right? Just sit back and drink your damn draft already.

Show me what else you regularly pay $15 for that is as poorly made as the average cocktail. Oh, I forgot, you're the champion of the working man, and so only drink oat soda.

I'm a hard liquor man, and if money is coming out of my pocket, I expect the drink to be made well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:54 AM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


When I was editor in chief of a newspaper, I dealt with schmucks and morons and bullies all day long. I am now a Web editor. Same deal. I was a box office manager for a nightclub a few years ago. Yep. Same deal. I'm, sure dentists get it, bus drivers get it, and photographers get it. But the service industry is the only place I have ever worked where a certain percentage of people think they have the right to be equally unpleasant as a result, and that it is, in fact, a sign of character.

what's the difference between all the jobs you mentioned and the service industry? Service industry get paid shit.
posted by jonmc at 10:54 AM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


I've known many, many bartenders who took home $200 a night, straight cash. I've never made that kind of money. We're not talking about bus boys and dishwashers here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2008


Show me what else you regularly pay $15 for that is as poorly made as the average cocktail. Oh, I forgot, you're the champion of the working man, and so only drink oat soda.

I've had a few $10 cocktails in my day. ($15 is too much, you're being gouged) and I'm sure all the little touches make a difference, but at the same time, just how much servility do you want from somebody getting paid $10 an hour?
posted by jonmc at 10:57 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Huh. Well, those weren't funny, and mostly play as weird revenge fantasies of the service worker. (Yeah, been there.) At any rate, it amused me to think that in a week and a half my wife and I will be hanging out for a weekend on Whidbey Island . . . with my regular bartender and his girlfriend.
posted by Skot at 10:57 AM on December 1, 2008


I've had a few $10 cocktails in my day. ($15 is too much, you're being gouged) and I'm sure all the little touches make a difference, but at the same time, just how much servility do you want from somebody getting paid $10 an hour?

None at all. I don't want them to bow and scratch. I just want them to know their fucking job. I made $7 an hour working in a record store, and I could tell you where every record was in my section, and never mistreated a customer.

Also: You obviously have never had a well-made cocktail.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:59 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


a certain percentage of people think they have the right to be equally unpleasant as a result, and that it is, in fact, a sign of character.

It's not.


Sure it is, just not the way they think.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:59 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've spent the vast majority of the last fifteen years working some variety of retail job or another. For the last six, I've worked a pretty cushy one--college town record shop--for a few hours a week to supplement my freelance income and give me the opportunity to have long-winded conversations with fellow music geeks. Record stores are one of the rare retail outlets where employees are allowed to be assholes (see "High Fidelity"), but I think one of the reasons why we've survived (we're the last remaining independent record store in town) is because all of us tend to be pretty nice and helpful people. We don't mock our customers. We generally go out of our way to help people find whatever it is their looking for. We may not carry Britney Spears, but we'll be happy to get if for you if you want and we might even be able to recommend three or four other things you might like.

As with any service job, there are good days and bad days. I can be a moody person. The customer is not always right, in fact sometimes they're flat out factually wrong (Jonathan Richman was not in Big Star, Billy Joel did not write "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," the Shins are not punk rock, even by the most generous definition and a 7" and a 45 are, in fact, the same thing), but I find those inclined to argue will never admit that they're wrong, so what's the point of engaging (unless you're just really, really bored).

That said, taking verbal abuse a rampant disrespect from customers is not part of any service industry job description. We're here to help you get what you want. We're not here to be harassed, intimidated, threatened, solicited, condescended to or ordered around just so you can feel powerful for a few minutes. And speaking as a woman, "Baby, why don't you smile?" is never a good way to strike up a conversation with a cashier.
posted by thivaia at 11:01 AM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


OOOOH it's bar cocktails vs. bar beers!!

I'll be in my kitchen.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:03 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The PWoCA added a requirement: "Oh, and you can you be a dear and make it extra hot? Thanks a bunch."

The kid behind the counter said, "It comes in only one temperature, ma'am."

"No," she insisted, "Last week I came in and they did something to make it extra hot."

"It is boiling water, ma'am."



The counter person is baiting the customer into an argument here. He could have just patronized her and said "sure thing". End of possible confrontation.
posted by Zambrano at 11:03 AM on December 1, 2008


Also: You obviously have never had a well-made cocktail.

Next time your in NYC, I'll take you to the place where I go get cocktails when I'm feeling Diamond Jim Brady. I guarantee, you'll have no complaints. But at the same time, when I'm simply plunking down a few bucks for an afterwork drink, I don't demand that the bartender make all the magic moves in the world to be treated halfway decently, and since my bartender usually has my drink on the bar before I'm even sitting down, I must be doing something right. (and a cocktail with an imperfectly cut garnish will still get you just as fucked up).
posted by jonmc at 11:03 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


When I worked in an ice cream parlor I struggled to be nice to people. It was hard, because ice cream parlors, despite the dispensing of joyous creamy sugared goodness for which the store is purposed, bring out the worst in people. All people. Crackheads to eggheads, you put a person in front of an ice cream counter and they will be obnoxious.

It was especially bad with children.

Now, I am not a children kind of person. They move too fast, they are very high-pitched, and most of them have limited vocabularies and conversational ability. They make me nervous. You will ask yourself why I worked in an ice cream parlor if that is the case, and I will tell you I was broke. And all summer long children flowed into my store, screeching their broken record demands for ice cream, zooming around like addled humming birds, and in many cases trying to climb the glass ice cream counter at risk of life and limb.

Some parents tried to wrangle their offspring, for which I sincerely thanked them in my heart. But a lot of parents appeared to mistake the ice cream dispensary for which I worked as a parenting-free zone. 'Oh Bobby,' they would say idly, their eyes locked on the ice cream cartons within the display as their child attempted to climb the wall or tear the upholstery or bashed into other patrons, 'Don't be so wild.' And I was helpless to do anything to correct their misapprehension about the Wild West nature of the ice cream parlor, other than to meekly suggest that GLASS COUNTERS are perhaps not the wisest choice of mountaineering venue for a toddler.

It was not until late one night that I came up with my revenge, which was such a subtle revenge no one could detect it as such.

We had a virulently green mint ice cream that was two parts ice cream to forty thousand parts green dye. We were also desperate to shift the stuff, as it was not selling so well. So I started offering the worst little moppets samples of the green ice cream. It did not hurt them, but it painted them and anything they touched a deep emerald hue. And whenever another one of them left, their parents swabbing at the verdigris child while fretting about the upholstery in their car, I laughed inside.

It is good to be nice to the people who serve you. They have ways of revenge you cannot imagine.
posted by winna at 11:09 AM on December 1, 2008 [14 favorites]


"Show me a bartender who makes his own simple sugar"
Not everyone who is working behind a bar counter is a professional and educated in the craft of cocktail-mixing, and won't get payed as one.
We don't even have Cocktails on our menu.
I don't know how it is in the US, but in germany you would have to go to a bar where a certified Barmeister works, a 4-weeks course that charges 1300€. This should guaratnee a drink poored to your satisfaction.

I still object to being insulted as a glorified and overpaied drug dealer.
posted by kolophon at 11:22 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The PWoCA added a requirement: "Oh, and you can you be a dear and make it extra hot? Thanks a bunch."

The kid behind the counter said, "It comes in only one temperature, ma'am."

"No," she insisted, "Last week I came in and they did something to make it extra hot."

"It is boiling water, ma'am."


That barista sounds exasperated. I got that one about twenty times a day, to the point where I said exactly what that barista said, just so the customers would know I was doing what I could.

One thing I've noticed about older people is that they're not so much concerned about how fresh coffee is so much as how hot it is- probably because they can't taste very well anymore.

I had one older lady come in who actually had me microwave her latte for her because after extended steaming it still wasn't hot enough. I don't think the microwave really could get it much over the 210F it already was, but she was probably burning herself and couldn't tell.

She got what she wanted, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:30 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is good to be nice to the people who serve you. They have ways of revenge you cannot imagine.
posted by winna at 1:09 PM on December 1


This sociopathic reversal has always bothered me - it's as if I have to conform to the waiter's predilections or else I get the Special Sauce.
posted by plexi at 11:30 AM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Note to self: if I ever want to have a really nice, well-crafterd, high-end cocktail from a professional bartender, hang out with Astro Zombie -- and if I ever want to get drunk courtesy of an attentive and pleasant bartender, hang out with Jonmc.

You're arguing apples and oranges, you two. Maybe you should go get a drink together.
posted by davejay at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is mean, and it has put me off bars. I'm going to Starbucks and see if someone will pay forward a latte to me.
posted by salishsea at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's as if I have to conform to the waiter's predilections

yeah, you have to be reasonably polite and not expect him to say "yes sir, my feet are like wing, sir." What a heavy burden for you, how do you bear it, sir?
posted by jonmc at 11:33 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


davejay, as I've mentioned, I can get you both.
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on December 1, 2008


Someone's been watching too much Dane Cook.
posted by william_boot at 11:36 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dear AksMe, I am my own bartender, meaning I get slosho in front of the TV with a bottle of whateva. Do I hate myself?
posted by not_on_display at 11:37 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


DTMFA
posted by burnmp3s at 11:38 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


yes, why else would you be drinking?
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


That shitty "customer is always right" attitude has really gone too far. I have spent a lot of time teaching college kids. There are a great number of polite, respectful, engaged students in college. There are also a certain percentage of them that assume teaching is a service job, and that I am obligated to give them good grades for showing up to class. One long-time professor I met said she quit the day a student came into her office hours and retorted "Bitch, I'm paying you!" when she wouldn't change his grade.

That said, I also knew a lot of asshole professors. So go figure.

By the way, why is it that 95% of the time I see a Metafilter YouTube link, at least half if not more of the damn videos are "no longer available" about three seconds after the post hist the front page?
posted by caution live frogs at 11:39 AM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


This sociopathic reversal has always bothered me - it's as if I have to conform to the waiter's predilections or else I get the Special Sauce.

If you'll look up to my previous post you can see that I advocate for being nice to servers because it's the right thing to do. Of course, when people don't want to do the right thing because they feel entitled to be assholes, it's good to remind them that there are always consequences for bad behavior. It's sociopathic not to realize that the people who are waiting on you are human beings with feelings to be considered.
posted by winna at 11:41 AM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still object to being insulted as a glorified and overpaied drug dealer.

Alcohol is a drug. That's just the fact. And a lot of people use it specifically as a drug. The guy in the corner who gets tanked after work every day isn't coming to the bar for the bartender's sunny disposition, and he isn't going there because he has a taste for top shelf liquor and proper mixology. The bartender is functioning as his drug dealer. I know it's an ugly way to phrase it, but, frankly, alcohol can be a very ugly drug.

I don't know if you're overpaid. I don't know how much you make. I am referring to bartenders who take home a cash salary larger than mine for doing a job that, in Minnesota, requires no education, no training, and no licensing. I lived in New Orleans and new great bartenders, who really knew their business on both the drink end and on the custimer service end, and I don't begrudge them a penny they make. But I have met bartenders who couldn't be bothered to clean their beer taps, didn't know a stout from a porter, and had a taste for rudeness to their customers. I begrudge them ever penny they make, and think they should be fired.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


knew
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:43 AM on December 1, 2008


The PWoCA added a requirement: "Oh, and you can you be a dear and make it extra hot? Thanks a bunch."

The kid behind the counter said, "It comes in only one temperature, ma'am."

"No," she insisted, "Last week I came in and they did something to make it extra hot."

"It is boiling water, ma'am."


Unless she's drinking straight up drip-coffee or espresso, it's not just boiling water--it's milk too. And you don't heat milk up to 212 degrees for a latte/cappucino/mochawhatever... if memory serves you want to bring it up to around 110 degrees or else you scald the milk.

Then again, I remember from my barista days that sometimes people liked the taste of scalded milk. And since I'm not the one drinking the damn thing, who cares if I heat it a little past the recommended point.

But I can see how people would be much more satisfied to sneer at the crazy old lady (complete with inane acronym!) rather than be right.

In other words, it's just as easy for service workers to be assholes as it is for customers.
posted by turaho at 11:46 AM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've always thought it should be a requirement to have to work a service job. (Yeah, not really, I don't believe in indentured servitude.) But my service jobs in college and my mid 20s have affected the way I treat other service people ever since, and I frequently cannot BELIEVE the way I see other customers behaving. I'm not even talking just about over the top asshole behavior. Some people clearly feel the need to signal to those who are "beneath" them that they are not worthy of respect. It's infuriating to have to deal with that day after day, customer after customer. It wears you down.

Is it really asking so much that you should treat a stranger who is serving you with courtesy? And to those who say all jobs have aspects that suck--being at the bottom of the totem pole almost always sucks hardest. A job with low pay, no respect, and crappy treatment is worse than a job with decent pay, some respect, and crappy treatment--always.
posted by Mavri at 11:46 AM on December 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


For serious: no matter who you encounter in your daily slog through the Urban Shit Abyss you should try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the SUV driving on the shoulder has a pregnant woman giving birth in it, or she has already breached and the fetus had to take the wheel? Maybe the guy barking into his phone on the metro is partially deaf or was abusively raised by stand-up comics? Maybe the bartender who stares off into the distance for a minute or three between waiting on the guy who just approached the bar to stand in the same spot that the guy who just got served a minute ago was standing in, maybe, his mom died that morning? And maybe the people who ask for Latte Espresso Cappuccinos with extra milk and no foam have, all of them, Asbergers.

It really does help to get through the day to ask yourself, right before launching into a rant: what would Denis Leary do here? Then do the opposite.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:48 AM on December 1, 2008 [12 favorites]


By the way, why is it that 95% of the time I see a Metafilter YouTube link, at least half if not more of the damn videos are "no longer available" about three seconds after the post hist the front page?

Are you using the popup MeFi player? If so, those are actually blocked because they aren't embeddable. YouTube has a relatively unhelpful error message in those cases, which does not describe the actual problem.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:48 AM on December 1, 2008


I've always thought it should be a requirement to have to work a service job.

Oh God, yes. I don't care if I become a billionaire, I'll make my kids have summer jobs at McDonald's, just so they get a tase of how shitty life can be, and so they don't grow up to be spoiled little shits.
posted by jonmc at 11:50 AM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


Similarly, I think anyone who manages someone else should know how the job they manage is done. When I was in the service industry, I had much bigger problems with know-it-all managers who wanted to change everything around for no reason at all then some sort of territorial pissing, but didn't have a clue about the actual nuts and bolts of the job.

Honestly, complaining about -- and being rude to -- the customer is counterproductive. Some are dopes, but most are just quirky people whose quirks are harmless. They pay your salary. It's the bosses who can really make trouble.

I'd love to see a "Your Bartender Hates You" aimed at the restaurant manager or bar owner. They have often actually earned the hate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


boo_radley writes "Man, this has been a disillusioning week. First the strippers, they hate me; thinking I'm a warm and dumb ATM. Then the bartenders, they hate me; thinking I'm a warm, dumb, drunk and asshole ATM."

The bartender thinks of you like a child with money and adult liabilities for the business. It's the only way, because children do stupid things, but you don't take it personally, because they have to be taught, but they also must be guided and disciplined. But there is the question of liability. Here in NM, the bartender can personally be sued, sent to jail, etc., for problems with the service that have legal implications, like serving underage or serving a drunk patron. I used to love bartending, but putting the full weight of liability on the server is taking responsibility from the patron and misplacing it. The server has to have some responsibility, but so does the person ordering the drinks.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:57 AM on December 1, 2008


most are just quirky people whose quirks are harmless

read this. multiply that times 1000. Imagine millions of people dealing with that day in and day out. Then maybe you can know what the hell you're talking about.
posted by jonmc at 12:02 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The counter person is baiting the customer into an argument here. He could have just patronized her and said "sure thing". End of possible confrontation.

I wish I had said that.

The curious thing is that precisely one hundred percent of the service industry people I know say, upon hearing that story, that the kid should have twiddled some random knobs and announced that he would have to charge her fifty cents extra for the extra hot drink.

Oh, wait.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:03 PM on December 1, 2008


read this. multiply that times 1000. Imagine millions of people dealing with that day in and day out. Then maybe you can know what the hell you're talking about.

I've worked in customer service for most of my life, Jon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:06 PM on December 1, 2008


Astro Zombie writes "Honestly, complaining about -- and being rude to -- the customer is counterproductive. Some are dopes, but most are just quirky people whose quirks are harmless. They pay your salary. It's the bosses who can really make trouble."

I've worked in places where I made minimum wage and about $50 in tips for serving $1500 worth of drinks on a weekend, as the only bartender with a full bar and two waitstaff. The patrons are taking advantage of the servers in such an environment. But in that case, the owner let the place go to hell, and we had a dive bar with nice furnishings. True, ultimately, the owner was responsible for the change, but I didn't feel a lot of sympathy for customers who camped out at my bar, demanded quick service, and never tipped (or tipped $1 or $2 for the whole night). That's rude, even if you're poor.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:06 PM on December 1, 2008


Yeah, yeah - and while we're actor-bashing, how many actors does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Five - one to screw it in and four more to stand back and say, "I could have done that better."

I met a girl in NYC once. I asked her what she did for a living and she said she was an actress. I asked her "What restaurant?"
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:07 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


When I was editor in chief of a newspaper, I dealt with schmucks and morons and bullies all day long. I am now a Web editor. Same deal. I was a box office manager for a nightclub a few years ago. Yep. Same deal. I'm, sure dentists get it, bus drivers get it, and photographers get it. But the service industry is the only place I have ever worked where a certain percentage of people think they have the right to be equally unpleasant as a result, and that it is, in fact, a sign of character.

It's the sign of a manager (or editor) when they compare their own experiences to those of the people who work under them as if they were the same.

Look, I've worked in service at the grunt and managerial levels, I'm now in a job that somewhat closely resembles your current Web editor job. My best friend in the world is a dentist, and several of my friends are photographers. None of use would ever claim to go through the kinds of bullshit that a bartender does, and I can assure any and everyone here that working a desk job is much happier than working behind a counter trying to make a miserable bastard happy, no matter how shitty your desk-job clients can be. I've never been a bartender, but I've made friends with a few over the years, and they put up with much worse than I ever did hocking coffee, videos or cds. More importantly, they put up with it from drunks. There's a reason they don't have bouncers at Starbucks. Until you need a weight lifter to eject the kind of assholes you deal with at work, you don't actually understand what a bartender goes through. Most of them put up with it with a smile, and when they don't, there's a good reason for it. When the troublemaker has a half-liter of Jack Daniel's in him, you have to let him know where the line is and make sure he understands it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


That's rude, even if you're poor.

Completely agree. There are abominable people out there, and it is well within an employees right to refuse to deal with them. I have done it many times, by passing them on to management.

It's the sign of a manager (or editor) when they compare their own experiences to those of the people who work under them as if they were the same.

Again, I have worked in customer service most of my adult life. There are comparisons that are valid. And one of them is that, just because you dfeal with dicks doesn't entitle you to be a dick, no matetr how much or little money you make.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:15 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


A This American Life episode on mean people did a little experiment with a nice waitress and a less nice waitress and the rude one got way better tips. On the This American Life TV show, they did a piece on a hot dog stand that does a great business after the bar closes and the shtick is that the customers and the workers insult each other, not in a clever way but just lot of loud "fuck you" shouts going both ways. I can see a bleak future.
posted by Bitter soylent at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Leave the change you want to spend in the world.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:20 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Maybe Patrician Woman of a Certain Age wanted the server barista to put the little insulator jacket on or double cup it?
posted by acro at 12:23 PM on December 1, 2008


There are comparisons that are valid. And one of them is that, just because you dfeal with dicks doesn't entitle you to be a dick, no matetr how much or little money you make.

Here's the thing, there's a difference between being entitled to being a dick and getting angry being an unavoidable consequence of certain situations. I don't think anyone's making that entirely clear. The whole "bartenders put up with enough bullshit that they can [blank]" argument has the implication of "you can understand when a bartender gets snippy. it's not their job to get snippy, but anyone would in their circumstances." frankly, i think you can understand when anyone in service gets snippy, even in relatively mild circumstances, because people being served are at their worst and least civil. if you deal with that all day long all the time, sometimes you will snap, even if only in small ways and at times when it's least appropriate. honestly, i imagine you'd agree with this assertion. what i don't understand about what you said is this idea that "a certain percentage" (what percentage? more or less than in other industries?) take pride in being a dick. I cannot for the life of me imagine why you believe this is the case instead of simply recognizing the results of constant social pressure needing a release valve of some kind.
posted by shmegegge at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


they did a piece on a hot dog stand that does a great business after the bar closes

i'm inclined to say this is a result of timing, rather than attitude. any cheap ass greasy food that's open by bars after the bars close does well enough at that time to make up for crippling losses the rest of the week. one of the most successful restaurants in my town is a shitty pizza place (one of several, and it makes the worst pizza out of the bunch.) that is the only food still open at 4 am. they don't do toppings and they don't treat customers well. but they're open at drunk hours when no one else is and they're cheap. lines down the block to get in at 4 am on a thurs-sunday.
posted by shmegegge at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2008


On the This American Life TV show, they did a piece on a hot dog stand that does a great business after the bar closes and the shtick is that the customers and the workers insult each other, not in a clever way but just lot of loud "fuck you" shouts going both ways. I can see a bleak future.

What do you expect when you go to a place called the Wiener's Circle?
posted by burnmp3s at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2008


I cannot for the life of me imagine why you believe this is the case instead of simply recognizing the results of constant social pressure needing a release valve of some kind.

I believe this is the case because I have known bartenders who are total fuckign assholes and take a lot of pride in it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2008


God damn I have some typo problems today.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2008


People are thoughtless and rude and stupid. Okay, but here's the issue: That's true on every job I have ever had

In the service industry, every asshole with two pennies to rub together is your boss. The ones with the least power in their lives outside your establishment are the ones most likely to be abusive, and the most likely to complain if given the treatment they deserve. The idea that there's any comparison at all between being a wage slave and being the editor-in-chief of a newspaper is the most Bizarro World thing I've heard all day.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: total fuckign assholes and take a lot of pride in it
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the This American Life TV show, they did a piece on a hot dog stand that does a great business after the bar closes and the shtick is that the customers and the workers insult each other, not in a clever way but just lot of loud "fuck you" shouts going both ways. I can see a bleak future.

Previous FPP on the TAL episode about The Wiener Circle.
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I can see how people would be much more satisfied to sneer at the crazy old lady (complete with inane acronym!) rather than be right.

You don't mean "right", you mean servile. Right is exactly what the barista did, which was inform the customer that what she asks for isn't exactly, you know, possible. And in the quoted exchange, the barista didn't sneer at all, so I'm lead to believe you're the kind of person who made my life just a little less enjoyable back in my service days.

Honestly, complaining about -- and being rude to -- the customer is counterproductive. Some are dopes, but most are just quirky people whose quirks are harmless. They pay your salary. Not unless you're paid by tips. Once I was basically untouchable at the grocery store I worked for, I intentionally drove away the customers that treated my co-workers and I like dogs. The three or four less customers a month had no appreciable effect at wages. A while they may "pay my salary", service works don't owe thankfulness to assholes just because they happen to go out of their way to buy food.

When I was editor in chief of a newspaper, I dealt with schmucks and morons and bullies all day long. I am now a Web editor. Same deal. I was a box office manager for a nightclub a few years ago. Yep. Same deal .... But the service industry is the only place I have ever worked where a certain percentage of people think they have the right to be equally unpleasant as a result, and that it is, in fact, a sign of character.

It's is not the same deal, at all. Maybe you didn't work in the service industry, or maybe you never needed to, but there is no reasonable comparison between how service workers get treated and professionals do. The worst boss I've had in my career was a fuzzy kitten to some of the Ivan the Terribles I worked for to put myself through college.

If you have a bad situation at an office, you have options, and you certainly don't have middle aged moms complaining to your manager that you greeted them in an "aloof, mechanical way".
posted by spaltavian at 12:35 PM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


It's is not the same deal, at all. Maybe you didn't work in the service industry, or maybe you never needed to, but there is no reasonable comparison between how service workers get treated and professionals do.

You haven't read any of my other comments in this thread at all, have you?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2008


you certainly don't have middle aged moms complaining to your manager that you greeted them in an "aloof, mechanical way".

Not to mention "Secret Shoppers," (aka Professional Rats).
posted by jonmc at 12:40 PM on December 1, 2008


If you're receiving the same level of disrespect at a professional job as you did in your service jobs, I would leave if I were you.
posted by spaltavian at 12:42 PM on December 1, 2008


meh, my bartenders are all pretty cool.

the trick is to suss out establishments where the staff actually choose to socialise in their own bar when not working, and who hang out & chat with the punters during breaks. that's the sign of a good, friendly place with a solid community.

i kinda wish they weren't all lesbians though; they're quite hawt.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:46 PM on December 1, 2008


I believe this is the case because I have known bartenders who are total fuckign assholes and take a lot of pride in it.

As in, they treated you badly while they were serving you or what?
posted by shmegegge at 12:52 PM on December 1, 2008


If you're receiving the same level of disrespect at a professional job as you did in your service jobs, I would leave if I were you.

Why would I leave a professional job for disrespect and not leave a service job? I have never had a problem walking out of a service job and finding another one. But a good professional job is really, really hard to find.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on December 1, 2008


The counter person is baiting the customer into an argument here. He could have just patronized her and said "sure thing". End of possible confrontation.

Oh, god, that's a terrible attitude. I'd like to say a few words to whoever came up with the idea of "the customer is always right."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:53 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


As in, they treated you badly while they were serving you or what?

Yes. Me. Other customers. Fellow employees.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:54 PM on December 1, 2008


As in, they treated you badly while they were serving you or what?

Yes. Me. Other customers. Fellow employees.


Then don't come back. In the immortal words of Randall Graves, you will be missed. *turns page of newspaper*
posted by jonmc at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


One thing I noticed in my years serving coffee, drinks, and food, is that customers are a lot more bearable when it's busy and you've got more good customers to serve than annoying ones. I used to really enjoy getting my gameface on and trying to focus on just giving everyone the best service possible. It becomes like jogging or drawing or any other zen sort of activity... really centres you and clears the mind if you give in to the ardour.

/fucking pretentious at the end there
posted by autodidact at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Then don't come back. In the immortal words of Randall Graves, you will be missed. *turns page of newspaper*

Yes. Many places have lost my business.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on December 1, 2008


Aaaand I'm an idiot. I meant to say "if you give in to how arduous it is", which sounds awkward, but not as awkward as using the wrong word completely.
posted by autodidact at 12:59 PM on December 1, 2008


First, I took those videos as low-budget sketch comedy. If these were on SNL or MADtv with a recognizable comedian as the bartender, would the reaction have been the same. (The writing and acting would be better.)

I used to visit my wife's place of work (deli/pastries/coffee shop), and marvel at how anal the customers seemed. I would think to myself, "Damn, if I was that particular about my coffee, I would make it myself."

That was 15 years ago. On Maui. I am sure things have only gotten worse.

Now, I just wish baristas could organize and unionize. At this point, they are at least as integral to the operation of most major metro areas as garbage and transit. Can you imagine the pressure put on employers to settle a strike in a city after 3 days w/o coffee. Plus, if it was an occupation that had significantly better pay/benefits for those who have done it for 5+ years, you wouldn't have some 18 y.o. with 3 hours? of training stumped over a request to make coffee hotter than boiling.
The thing is... we rely on the behind-the-counter-service sector as our entry level job market. Then complain about the crappy service. yingyang.

I guess if I was really into cocktails and couldn't find a place to become a regular (thinking you can go into random bar and get a better-than-average cocktail just makes you delusional), I would make them at home. "But I want to go out with my friends." Well, make those evenings about being with your friends, not the perfect cocktail. I am always bummed when joining a group out for dinner or drinks, and come to realize we have a "complainer" with us. Instead of focusing on each other and conversing, everything becomes about how long it took the water to get here, where are the appetizers, this is cold, that is not right... *mellow harshed*

To all those whose message was "give the other side a break", I am with you. Even when people don't give me a break, I try to give them a break on that.

I am an unambitious wimp, in no hurry to get anywhere.

Maybe I should get a job in the service sector.
posted by secondhand at 1:02 PM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


I viewed video #7 and thought the fictional bartender was completely in the right in that particular case, but in most of these videos, he's just acting like an attitudinal douchebag.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:05 PM on December 1, 2008


So, to sum up: service industry employees thinks service industry customers are assholes and service industry customers think service industry employees are assholes. Got it.
posted by electroboy at 1:11 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Visine in Drinks

Everyone is taking this as a given, for me it is first I have heard of it. Aside from being not the drink you ordered, is there something very nefarious about drinking Visine? Or does it ruin the taste of the drink? Make you piss your pants? Or what?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:15 PM on December 1, 2008


Makes you sick to your stomach. It was a big plot point in The Wedding Crashers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:17 PM on December 1, 2008


The customer may not always be right, but the customer is never wrong. To his or her face, that is.

Part of the deal you make when you work as a server and/or bartender is that some people are just going to be low-tipping assholes who you would cheerfully push off a cliff if one were handy. But for every one of them there's ten more people who appreciate good service and are willing to pay for it.

I bartended/served for years and years. I liked doing it. There is, as autodidact pointed out, a certain satisfaction to be gained from doing it well, and sometimes the job can be its own reward.

But I learned this: strangely enough, it's the same bartenders/servers who always seem to end up getting stiffed by their patrons. And, of course, it's NEVER their fault. It's always the guest. These are the people who need to be shuffling paper in a cubicle, not out serving the public. These are the people who feel that serving others is beneath them, or that being genuinely friendly to every single person you encounter is a chore. If you can't do that, it doesn't matter how many tables you can take or how good your bartending skills are -- you fail at the primary objective: make the guest happy.

The "surly bartender" is a persona that can work, depending on the bar and its needs. It's fun to be that guy sometimes. Some places require it. But the better the bar, the fewer the surly bartenders you'll find behind it. If your drinking hole caters to people fresh out of college who still need to have their ears pinned back and who drink Bud Light out of cans, then, yeah, you need a kindergarten teacher, not a bartender.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:18 PM on December 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


You don't mean "right", you mean servile. Right is exactly what the barista did, which was inform the customer that what she asks for isn't exactly, you know, possible.

I explained how it is possible, so you may want to go back and read my whole comment again.

I was a barista too, back in the day, and while I had my share of frustrating customers I didn't take every simple request as a personal affront. I can't see how you would think a request to leave the steaming wand in a pitcher of milk for 10 more seconds would be considered a "servile" request.

A quick googling reveals that the ideal temperature for steamed milk is 145 degrees, so mea culpa on that but the point stands.
posted by turaho at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2008


Visine is supposed to give you sudden diarrhea except that it doesn't.

Visine is tetrahydrozoline. Tetrahydrozoline doesn't cause darrhea, it's just an urban legend. t is, however, toxic and can seriously hurt someone. Although a few drops obviously aren't likely to do that. Still, it's a poison and putting poison in someone's drink is both immoral and illegal.
posted by Justinian at 1:20 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The visine spiking thing seems really, really nasty. I don't think anyone should do this - no matter what dickish behaviour brought it on.
posted by Deep Dish at 1:20 PM on December 1, 2008


It was a big plot point in The Wedding Crashers.

Well shit, no wonder I didn't know that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:26 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes. Many places have lost my business.

Listen closely and you'll hear the sound of thousands of hearts breaking.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and by the way, spaltavian...

so I'm lead to believe you're the kind of person who made my life just a little less enjoyable back in my service days

No, I was the kind of person who listened to my customers, tried to fulfill their requests and enjoyed the excellent tips I received as a result. I also treated my fellow service workers with respect and tip very well, and continue to do so to this day. But that doesn't mean I let the bad ones off the hook.

Your desire to jump to conclusions about who I am is par for the course of some service people to believe that the customer is always wrong.
posted by turaho at 1:28 PM on December 1, 2008


Listen closely and you'll hear the sound of thousands of hearts breaking.

They should. I walk away from a bar, I take a lot of traffic with me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:29 PM on December 1, 2008


They should. I walk away from a bar, I take a lot of traffic with me.

I can't tell if this is more the sort of thing you see on the world of warcraft forums ("you better change the game or else I'll quit and tell everyone else to! I have lots of friends!") or a quiet admission of alcoholism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The world is full of clueless types and evil assholes. Some of them will be your customers. Some of them will be your co-workers. Some of them will be your bosses. And if you let their behavior define yours, chances are, you may just be one of them.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:38 PM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is funny stuff right here.
posted by nola at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


"And I have never had a businessman mistreat me and then follow me out to my car in a rage because I didn't tip him."

I've had a businessman follow me out to my car in a rage because I had the temerity to ask him to pay for ads that he had purchased and that had run. And really, wouldn't the comparison be that you've never had anyone yell at you because you were an asshole to them?

"and a 7" and a 45 are, in fact, the same thing)"

No, they're not, though the vast majority of them are. But I own 7"s that play at 33, and 10"s that play at 45.

"didn't know a stout from a porter,"

You mean, they didn't know the difference between a porter and a stout porter or double porter or extra porter? What, by taste? The differences between stout and porter are largely at the discretion of the brewery, and not knowing one from another is hardly the worst offense a bartender could make.
posted by klangklangston at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I walk away from a bar,

I see a whole genre of jokes being born here: "A schmuck walks away from a bar...."
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I used to be one of those make my own simple sugar and measure drinks and chill the martini glass prior to pouring bartenders, but that was the bar I worked in with fancy drinks and special little mochalattebailey's drinks. When I worked in a spot with more beer taps than flavorings, I never bothered to know where our Galliano was, since no one ever ordered a Harvey Wallbanger. The customers I had there didn't give a damn about a perfectly mixed gin and tonic - it was more important that they got that gin and tonic NAOW!

Different places, different expectations.

(Oh, and for the record, yes, the barista could've made the drink extra hot. It's a common request and very easy to do. If the barista was boiling the milk, the barrista was burning the milk and making it shitty anyway. If I was the barista's manager, oh how my fist would shake at her/him!)

(also, all of bartenders conduct sick orgies in the blood of the innocents soon as you leave. and we put liquid laxatives in the drinks of anyone who doesn't give us burnt offerings first.)
posted by OrangeDrink at 1:56 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was the kind of person who listened to my customers, tried to fulfill their requests and enjoyed the excellent tips I received as a result.

Yet you think the a totally not-rude to a request that is either undoable or confusing (yeah, you can heat up milk, if milk was in the drink, which you are just assuming) was "sneering". Those are the kind of customers who ruined my day; those just looking for for an excuse to feel insulted.

If we're going to make assumptions, what probably happened is that this person asked for extra hot one time, the barista said "okay" meaning "whatever" and gave that woman the exact same thing everyone else got, leading to confusion later.

When I worked at a deli, most of the customers would ask for their meat "extra thing" or some derivation thereof. I would cut a slice at exactly normal, ask if it was fine, and 75% the answer was yes. It made my day easier, but it probably hurt the next guy who got stuck trying to convince the customer that they obviously prefer it normal, and only ask for thin because that's what people on commercials do.
posted by spaltavian at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am pleased with your typo, spaltavian.
posted by OrangeDrink at 2:05 PM on December 1, 2008


I am pleased with your typo, spaltavian.

I'm disillusioned. I guess my "extra thing" meat was just average all along.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


It would be really awesome if you could name a cocktail and have it made for you in a bar, though. They would just need one little book, but nooooo it's Jack and fake Ginger Ale or beer. I have completely given up on ever ordering an English Rose, and sometimes I can't even get a Washington Apple, and don't even get asked to explain it. Just "No."

Bartenders, unless their place is menu-based, which I like fine, should, at least know how to make one cocktail with every bottle behind the bar, but that bottle of Sloe Gin might as well not be there most of the time.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:11 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It might be standard at a certain place to steam milk to a certain temperature, and there might be some espresso machines which fully automate the steaming of milk and don't allow the temperature to which it is steamed to be changed. The latter may have been in the case in the original example.

Regardless, all of you fools who so quickly ridicule a request to steam milk hotter than the temperature to which it would otherwise be steamed have no business opining on the absurdity or lack thereof of coffee-related requests. What's next, ridiculing a customer for requesting that the milk in her latte be steamed from cold milk instead of using resteamed waste milk?
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 2:16 PM on December 1, 2008


When I worked at a deli, most of the customers would ask for their meat "extra thing" or some derivation thereof. I would cut a slice at exactly normal, ask if it was fine, and 75% the answer was yes.

I guess I was the schmuck for actually trying to fulfill a request instead of thinking the customer didn't know any better.
posted by turaho at 2:17 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It would be really awesome if you could name a cocktail and have it made for you in a bar, though.

Man, y'all are just going to the wrong bars. At my place, a friend of mine has his own (nauseating) drink called the "Rosalind Russell," named for no discernible reason that I know of. It's some terrible concoction involving well scotch and grapefruit juice. Another friend has his own drink--the "Thing." It's just a modified mint julep with a float of white rum and a pineapple wedge; similarly disheartening, but hey, it's his Thing. And now that I think about it, my wife has her own drink--a Lillet cocktail with orange juice and soda.

The guys who tend bar at my place are ball-shatteringly awesome, but they can't be unique. They're out there; find them, people! They're the ones who, when you idly ask nobody in particular, "I wonder how many shots are in a fifth?" immediately respond "16.9."
posted by Skot at 2:21 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


When you read this blog it is easy to see that, No the Customer is NOT Always Right.
posted by schyler523 at 2:23 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I wonder how many shots are in a fifth?"

One.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:24 PM on December 1, 2008 [12 favorites]


The problem with the customer is that she stormed out calling threats. The worker might have been wrong - it happens to everyone - but he wasn't being impolite about it. If he had started threatnening her it would have been equally bad. Her reaction was inappropriate and smacked of the customer entitlement that is the worst thing about working in service.

Customers can be wrong. Servers can be wrong. If it seems like one is ALWAYS wrong to you, and the other NEVER wrong, then you should probably reexamine your interactions with other people.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:26 PM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


What's next, ridiculing a customer for requesting that the milk in her latte be steamed from cold milk instead of using resteamed waste milk?

Sure, why not? I mean, we have already had this discussion concerning espresso on ice.
posted by rand at 2:29 PM on December 1, 2008


My bartenders love me, I'm putting their kids through college!

And, The Whelk, one of my bartenders actually gave me a big bag of Turkey leftovers the day after Thanksgiving. It was pretty awesome.

Reading this thread makes me glad I'm not going to the same bars as most of you guys. The places I frequent all have great folks behind the counter (it helps that I spend most of my nights off at the same bar that I work at). Even at places I've never been to before I generally get pretty good service just by being polite and patient. That's really all it takes most of the time.

And any of you Seattle Mefites are welcome to come visit me at my bar anytime. I'm there for happy hour Thursday through Saturday and greet everyone with a smile as they walk through the door.
posted by Jawn at 2:31 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I was just in the Whisky Bar last night in Seattle, and the bouncer was practicing up for his bartender's license and was being quizzed by the bartender.

And the guy got Washington Apple right off the bat.

I've been to a lot of bars, talked to a lot of bar tenders, and there is a difference between the ones who can pull a beer and ones who can make new and interesting cocktails.

But maybe it is just Seattle's bar crowd, but we have more folks who aspire to be like Murray Stenson than a legitimate dealer.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:35 PM on December 1, 2008


OMG, I've spent the whole day in a bar thread! I may just have a problem.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:40 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would cut a slice at exactly normal, ask if it was fine, and 75% the answer was yes.

That probably has more to do with the customers not wanting to seem annoyingly picky after already having made a special request than it does with their actual preference for sandwich meat thickness. Would you want to piss off the person who's about to decide which slice of tomato you get?
posted by contraption at 2:44 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


This thread is depressing, despite its potential as rant-fest both for shitty bartenders and shitty customers.

You don't have to pick a side here. Any culture of entitlement sucks.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:45 PM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Customers can be wrong. Servers can be wrong. If it seems like one is ALWAYS wrong to you, and the other NEVER wrong, then you should probably reexamine your interactions with other people.

Yes yes yes yes. Yes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:47 PM on December 1, 2008


Guys, guys. The solution is perfectly simple. If you have a problem with the service provided or the product served, you walk out without paying. It really is that easy. Getting all up in somebody's face when that face doesn't belong to the manager rarely resolves anything, and will leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth in more ways than one.

I've never worked in the service industry and I have varying levels of disdain/respect for those who do, depending on the context and the venue, but humanity is, for the most part, comprised of brick-stupid morons, and being berated by their greasy slab faces, or watching out of the corner of your eye as some twuntbird who has been standing in line at the McDonald's for five minutes waits until he gets to your counter before he finally figures to scan the fucking menu to decide what he wants, or having the same knee-shatteringly, painfully inane questions thrown at you by people who genuinely surprise you by their ability to respirate without mechanical assistance, for hours on end, day after day, well, if you wanna flip out over those things, have at it.

(As an aside, I am always genuinely amused whenever I go into a slightly upper-class emporium of wares, and the minimum-wage pudding jugglers in there affect a superior attitude, because it's like, I'm the one who can actually afford to shop here, asshole. And don't get me started on cockmonkeys in bookshops who stare at you blankly when you ask where the Penguin Classics are [and if anybody here works in a bookstore, and wants to chime in with "Actually, we put the Penguin Classics in the fiction section according to their respective authors", then don't, just shut up, because your bookstore sucks].)

Of course, customer service staff are people too, each as painfully ugly and daft as anybody else, but unfortunately they have the direct immediate advantage. It's hot out, you want a drink, there's only one bar, and behind that bar is a certified imbecile, pushing olives down his urethra with a swizzle stick and making noises like a duck. Tough shit. Get your drink from him or go thirsty.

Of course, fuck with my gin and tonic and I will destroy you. Perhaps not physically, or mentally, but you know how you put that little sticker up on your letterbox, says "No Junk Mail"? Oh yeah baby, that shit is gone.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:48 PM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Bartenders, unless their place is menu-based, which I like fine, should, at least know how to make one cocktail with every bottle behind the bar, but that bottle of Sloe Gin might as well not be there most of the time.

Sloe gin works well with screwdriver drinks, and it's fun ordering/getting the order for a "slow comfortable screw against the wall" (a Harvey Wallbanger with Sloe gin and Southern Comfort, basically).
posted by krinklyfig at 2:54 PM on December 1, 2008


I can't tell if this is more the sort of thing you see on the world of warcraft forums ("you better change the game or else I'll quit and tell everyone else to! I have lots of friends!") or a quiet admission of alcoholism.

or a combination of the two. astro zombie is upfront about his liking for booze, and he tells a mean anecdote, so i wouldn't be surprised for him to pass a lot of cash over the bar, whilst regaling the punters with witty stories & bon mots.

astute bar managers ensure that such customers are well served, on the house if need be.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:57 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie writes "I have no patience for this shit. It's bush league."

Your attitude is a bit precious for me.

"Completely agree. There are abominable people out there, and it is well within an employees right to refuse to deal with them. I have done it many times, by passing them on to management."

LOL. You never met the owner/manager of this particular bar. I'd be "passing on" 95% of the customers to her, and she was never there, except to count the till at the end of the shift. She didn't give a shit, and she'd gladly and regularly cash several patrons' SS checks to pay their tabs. I've worked dive bars and generally like them, but this was the bottom of the barrel. We got other bars' rejects.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:59 PM on December 1, 2008


As a former bouncer, I’m less sympathetic with what bartenders have to go through. Basically I handled what the bartenders can’t deal with (’can’t’ is not a slight really, they have to tend bar, somebody being disruptive isn’t their job, the bar is their job).
On the other hand, bartenders don’t get people who walk up to them wanting to fight them. Or the “he’s not so big” looks.

Still, I think it’s in the incentive. Bouncer, you expect a lot of negative crap, so you tend to be pretty upbeat when it isn’t lousy. Plus, you’re not expecting any tips.

Bartenders, you can be professional, friendly, etc. - you’re still dealing with an almost randomized system to pull in money. With a few standards, but still, tough to navigate.

My beef has always been when you - that is, owners, managers, get a big player coming in, you kiss his ass, etc.
Some millionaire gets the private booth comped, all that.

Joe Regular who’s been spending $20 a night, 4-5 nights a week, he gets a kind word maybe, a few on the cuff, but that’s about it.

Who cares if some rich guy doesn’t tip. It’s not about justice, it’s about making a living.
Who cares if they’re nice or not, the job is finding the method to get them to put the money in the cup consistently.
You’re not swinging for the fences, you’re looking to get on base regularly. That’s where you make the money. Joe Rich guy isn’t going to do that for you. He’s nobody. Screw him.

In terms of consistiency - I never got sued as a bouncer. Never. Had criminal charges brought against me and all it got was a good laugh all around after getting thrown out of court. And I was earning unreal dollars as security, not as much as the bartenders on a good night, but more than them on a bad one, and it was steady.
(There’s more to security than just standing there looking tough...if you’re worth anything)

But I’d say 90% of the problems discussed here were caused by poor management.

Bouncers are supposed to be lightning rods. They’re supposed to chat with the customers who might be getting out of hand. (And I mean chat. Nicely.)

Managers should be taking the heat off the staff so they can work efficiently and handing it off to bouncers, who should spot it, but who might have a few other things on their hands.
So if the bartenders having a hard time, it’s the manager’s job, and other staff, to help support him and each other to isolate these guys.

You don’t want it to affect your regular work because, bottom line, it’s not about the guy in front of you, it’s about the goal.
Whether it’s becoming a - whatever your dream is - or making the rent or taking care of your family.
And I wouldn’t screw with my take home doing something stupid like seeking petty revenge.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:59 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, didn't realize how ignorant a lot of you guys are.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:01 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie writes "Find me a bartender who measures drinks, instead of using a speed pour and counting to three."

Freepouring is a skill. I get the feeling that you've never bartended, if you think freepouring is a strike against a bartender. That's only true if the bartender is an amateur and doesn't know how to do it properly. A bartender that measures every drink is either being ordered to do so by management or is new. However, many high-call bars will make the bartender measure the really expensive stuff, like $20+ single malts.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:06 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


davejay, as I've mentioned, I can get you both.

I think perhaps the three of us all need a night out, then!
posted by davejay at 3:10 PM on December 1, 2008


MetaFilter: the minimum-wage pudding jugglers in there affect a superior attitude
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:11 PM on December 1, 2008


Infidels.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:12 PM on December 1, 2008


And I wouldn’t screw with my take home doing something stupid like seeking petty revenge.

Revenge is a drink best served with 1/2 oz Cinnamon Schnapps, 1/2 oz Absolut Peppar, and 3 drops of Tabasco Sauce, in that order.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, didn't realize how ignorant a lot of you guys are.

The bartender hates us. :(
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:14 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment.

Plexi, you're an ignorant asshole, grow the fuck up. What makes you think that everyone wants a daytime office job? Do you think your daytime office job is somehow more important than my bartending job? And way to make such a sweeping generalization about service industry workers. You obviously have never worked in a restaurant because if you did, you would find this to not be true. I think ANY industry has people that are unable to cope with things and are psychologically unsound.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:15 PM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


Wow, didn't realize how ignorant a lot of you guys are.

n00b
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:16 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The bartender hates us. :(

Ha! That actually made me smile. In fact, I actually like my job and I like talking to people. The rude patrons are very few and far between just as extremely rude bartenders and servers are few and far between. Assholes are everywhere, we just have to make sure to not become one ourselves.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:16 PM on December 1, 2008


It is boiling water, ma'am."

"Look, I want it extra hot!"


I've HAD that customer in my barista days. I've even tried to diplomatically explain the laws of physics. The woman wanted a tea, extra hot. I can't do that. The tea comes from a hot water tap on the coffee machine that delivers water at 201F. So, I show her this. I very politely show her the tap where the hot water comes out and the temperature gauge - which, if she could read it, says "201F" and I tell her simply that I can't make it any hotter.

"But you have a steamer! For the lattes!"

I smiled and told her that the steamer automatically stops at 150F, and if I steam any drink beyond 180F, it will explode and burn my arm - which I found out the hard way when a customer specifically ordered a drink steamed to 190 and it not only burned me, but lit the order slip on fire. (No lie.) So, since 180F is the hottest I can steam anything, there's no way I can steam water that is already 201F.

"Can't you just try?"

This is where I smiled and said that I could, but my plans for the day didn't involve going to the burn ward. She scoffed and accepted the tea and muttered that the guy at Starbucks made it extra hot.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:17 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's is not the same deal, at all. Maybe you didn't work in the service industry, or maybe you never needed to, but there is no reasonable comparison between how service workers get treated and professionals do.

Interesting. My worst managers ever were found in a services job (drug store) and professional job (not-for-profit), and my best managers ever were found in a services job (wedding videography) and a professional job (my current one.) The only difference I've found between the two types is in the place you find the fun: as a professional, I tend to find the fun in the work, and as a service worker, I tended to find the fun between the tasks.
posted by davejay at 3:18 PM on December 1, 2008


MetaFilter: the minimum-wage pudding jugglers in there affect a superior attitude

Have you ever tried to juggle pudding? They're entitled to their attitude.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:19 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Scenes from Whole Foods, as witnessed and experienced by yours truly, former Specialty team member:

Customer: Excuse me, can you tell me where the Granny Smith apples are?

Me: I don't work in this department, but let's see...oh, look - there they are.

Customer: But the sign says 'Coconuts'. I want apples.

----

Customer: Two pounds of prosciutto, cut thin enough to see through.

Me (preparing for my arm to fall off): Of course. If you have other shopping to do, you might want to take care of it - this will take ten or fifteen minutes. I can page you when it's ready.

Customer: Fine.

[time passes; my arm falls off; the prosciutto is sliced so thin you can read through it. Customer returns]

Me: Here you go - two pounds of prosciutto.

Customer: Is all the fat cut off? I can't eat any fat.*

[we would cut the fat off the prosciutto BEFORE slicing it, if the customer asked - we didn't like doing it, since it changes the flavor and texture of the prosciutto and besides, we paid for the fat, and now the customer isn't, but whatever - and even then, not all the fat could be cut off, just the bit around the edge]

Me: I'm sorry - the fat is still on it. I didn't know you wanted it cut off.

Customer (making a "yuck" face): You mean you leave it on for everyone? Well, I can't eat it. [walks away]

*What I didn't say, but wanted to: Can't eat any fat? Then what the fuck are you doing in my department? You know what we sell here? Cheese! And specialty meats with fat on them! And pate with big honking chunks of fat! You want fat-free? Go bother Produce!

---

And these aren't the worst, or the most crazy-making. Like the lady who decided that the call she was on was more important than placing her order - that's fine. Except when she decided that she was NOW READY to be waited on - there were other people in front of her, and I was slicing some serrano for someone else - she came behind my counter and tapped me - hit me, really - on the shoulder, and sort of barked into my ear "I've been waiting!". I jumped a mile, and it's a damn lucky thing I didn't run my finger across the slicer blade.

Entitlement. A little goes a long, long way.
posted by rtha at 3:19 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Right is exactly what the barista did, which was inform the customer that what she asks for isn't exactly, you know, possible.

Further on the steamed milk. turaho is correct in his/her explanation: for milk based coffees the temperature of the coffee isn't the boiling point of water (or milk). It's normally far lower, depending how long the steam was passed through the milk. Obviously it won't exceed the boiling point (whatever that may be at the locations's pressure) but it shouldn't normally come anywhere close.

Cappuccinos in Italy, for instance, are served at a relatively low temperature so that they can be drunk immediately upon being served without scalding oneself. If someone wants a hot cappuccino then they must ask for their coffee to be "caldo". The barista simply steams the milk for longer.
posted by NailsTheCat at 3:21 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


turgid dahlia : Of course, fuck with my gin and tonic and I will destroy you. Perhaps not physically, or mentally, but you know how you put that little sticker up on your letterbox, says "No Junk Mail"? Oh yeah baby, that shit is gone.

Which seems so harmless until you realize that to have determined that they have a "no junk mail" sticker, you have already followed them home and set up some level of surveillance.

At that point, it's just more satisfying to go physical and mental. You already know the location of their mailbox, may I suggest something involving a very angry, somewhat smallish badger?
posted by quin at 3:22 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


At that point, it's just more satisfying to go physical and mental. You already know the location of their mailbox, may I suggest something involving a very angry, somewhat smallish badger?

Rookie. Fish oil.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:26 PM on December 1, 2008


Regardless, all of you fools who so quickly ridicule a request to steam milk hotter than the temperature to which it would otherwise be steamed have no business opining on the absurdity or lack thereof of coffee-related requests.

Depends on what you're talking about by "hotter." Sure, I'd be happy to make a drink "extra hot," but as my previous comment states, some customers honestly expect the barista to risk actual injury for the sake of their drink and no way is THAT reasonable.

By and large though, I have no real beef with any of my former customers. Or with any servers I encounter. I really, really don't understand why it's so hard for people who are nice and polite and awesome in every other interaction in their lives to be nice to their waitstaff though. It boggles my mind. "The waiter test" has been mentioned on MetaFilter before - if you want to judge someone's character, see how they treat their waiter.

I'm not easily offended, but I get really, really angry when I see people (especially people I know) treat waitstaff/customer service people like slaves. Ask for whatever you want, but say PLEASE. FOR THE LOVE OF DOG, DIDN'T YOUR MOTHER EVER TEACH YOU ANY MANNERS?! It's totally a "how you say it" not a "what you're asking for" type of situation.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:32 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Customer: Two pounds of prosciutto, cut thin enough to see through.

My wife sent me to the store with an ingredient list which I could barely read, for some fancy-pants stuffed ravioli she was making with a friend. I misread her note about the prosciutto and asked for two pounds, instead of two ounces (we've since hashed out our notations).

Man, that poor woman -- I think she was nursing a shoulder injury anyway and she had to take breaks to switch positions every few minutes. I finally stopped her at about 1.25 pounds, assuming that HAD to be enough. She was grateful.

We ate a LOT of prosciutto while we were making the ravioli that night.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 3:34 PM on December 1, 2008


Rookie. Fish oil.

Amateur. Extract of durian.
posted by contraption at 3:36 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The PWoCA added a requirement: "Oh, and you can you be a dear and make it extra hot? Thanks a bunch."

The kid behind the counter said, "It comes in only one temperature, ma'am."

"No," she insisted, "Last week I came in and they did something to make it extra hot."

"It is boiling water, ma'am."

The counter person is baiting the customer into an argument here. He could have just patronized her and said "sure thing". End of possible confrontation.



My family has run a small optical shop for generations. I no longer work there, but I put in my time several years ago. It isn't the cheapest place to get glasses, but my family takes a lot of pride in getting the job right. I worked in the lab actually making glasses for awhile, and we lost more money than I'd care to admit because I'd messed up something small that the customer would probably never notice but my dad and grandfather would never allow to go out the door. I've made a set of lenses five or six times and watched the company lose some pretty serious money, but best believe those glasses were perfect when they finally went out the door.

Anyway, we had one customer who would always come in to pick up her new glasses (she had money and had at least 5-6 pairs at any given time), and she would throw a fit every time she came in to pick up a new pair. She couldn't see, she saw double through them, and so on. She had every complaint in the book.

The first few times, we remade the glasses and essentially threw away our profit on the job in the process. She was always totally happy with them the second time around. After three or four experiences like this, rather than confront her with the fact that we could measurably prove there was no difference between the sets she liked and the new set she hated, we decided to try out a new approach. She came in, threw her fit, and my dad apologized and told her we'd remake them and they'd be ready in about a week. Then we put everything back in the "job bag", and set it aside with a note to call her in 5 days and tell her that a "new pair" was ready, even though we had no intention of actually making a new pair. She came back in, we gave her the exact pair she'd tried a week before, and she raved about how much better they were and what good work we had done the second time around.

I cannot explain it, but for whatever reason she got off on making us do the work twice (or thinking she made us do it twice, anyway). Similarly, we always had a good laugh about her hating the work the first time and then loving the very same pair of glasses.

When working in service with finicky and downright strange people, that's what I call a win-win.
posted by rollbiz at 3:37 PM on December 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


And don't get me started on cockmonkeys in bookshops who stare at you blankly when you ask where the Penguin Classics are [and if anybody here works in a bookstore, and wants to chime in with "Actually, we put the Penguin Classics in the fiction section according to their respective authors", then don't, just shut up, because your bookstore sucks].)

*cocks eyebrow, makes note*

/bookstore employee
posted by jonmc at 3:48 PM on December 1, 2008


rollbiz: Heh, yeah, I worked for a while as a lens grinder in Omsk. We had somebody who came in one day with the exact same attitude.

Customer: "These glasses are rubbish, what kind of Mickey Mouse outfit are you running here?"

Me: "But what use are glasses when you cannot...see?"

Then I manipulated the programming of the Matrix to fuse his eyes shut.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:49 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


jonmc: Oh, you.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:50 PM on December 1, 2008


In the years considering this I've come to suspect that, disregarding students and weekenders, service industry roles are stuffed with those that are unable to cope with a standard daytime office job. Maybe they are psychologically unsound, maybe they are drug-addled and unable to emotionally cope with a sober regiment.

Not to alarm you but speaking as a former service industry person I can guarantee you that by your attitude you, my friend, have unknowingly eaten at least one burger decorated with a couple of loogies and most definitely drank a cocktail or two that somebody dipped their dick into. Probably worse.
posted by tkchrist at 3:53 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


jonmc: Oh, you.

you forget, turgid dahlia. I work at the buying desk of my store. If you come in, you'll be the one wanting money from me.
posted by jonmc at 3:55 PM on December 1, 2008


As a current bartender, I take vicarious joy from this series. Extremely accurate customer stereotypes, very satisfying results.
posted by seanbickford at 3:55 PM on December 1, 2008


For anyone who thinks Visine in a drink sounds like a fun thing to do to someone you don't like, please read what Snopes has to say on the subject. They have a list of people who were hospitalized, and a list of the associated comedians who found themselves in court.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2008


I work at the buying desk of my store.

Oh man, that's cool, because I have a whole heap of Poul Anderson, as well as Jeffrey Archer and Dick Francis. I know those are hot sellers and you probably don't have many in stock.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:06 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


regarding this boiling water nonsense:

can someone tell me if my understanding of physics is way off? it was my understanding that at sea level unadulterated water boils at 100 degrees celsius. you can add salt to make it boil at a higher temperature (such as when you're making pasta) but otherwise you can't make water get above a temperature of 100 degrees celsius without adding something to it. am i correct about this?

also, for astro zombie: as near as I can tell, you've had an abnormally poor ratio of good to bad bartenders, and I really don't know what else to say except "hey, i don't think that's normally the way it is for most people. bad luck, there." i imagine you've managed just fine regardless, so hey: happy drinking.
posted by shmegegge at 4:09 PM on December 1, 2008


Oh man, that's cool, because I have a whole heap of Poul Anderson, as well as Jeffrey Archer and Dick Francis. I know those are hot sellers and you probably don't have many in stock.

Actually, our much-chronicled dumpster-diving homeless guys keep us well stocked with them.
posted by jonmc at 4:12 PM on December 1, 2008


And don't get me started on cockmonkeys in bookshops who stare at you blankly when you ask where the Penguin Classics are [and if anybody here works in a bookstore, and wants to chime in with "Actually, we put the Penguin Classics in the fiction section according to their respective authors", then don't, just shut up, because your bookstore sucks].)

Oh please, man! If you were really cool, you wouldn't need a special section to tell you which books are the classics. You would JUST KNOW
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:16 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, as a bookstore employee (I've worked both chain and indie places), if a place has the Penguin Classics separated, it's because Penguin paid them to do it. I remember spending a few days setting up a 'Penguin Classics section, pre-opening in a chain store. The warehouse manager had her son Monie at the store and he seemed to liek hanging out with me so I had him filter out the books with the black spines from the boxes and throwing them down the aisle. he seemed to enjoy that. Then Penguin reneged on a payment and we just filtered them into fiction. I do remember that my college RD had a bookcase full of nothing but Penguin Classics. It looked like the monolith from 2001.
posted by jonmc at 4:18 PM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


"you can add salt to make it boil at a higher temperature (such as when you're making pasta) but otherwise you can't make water get above a temperature of 100 degrees celsius without adding something to it."

Lower. Salt lowers the freezing point and the boiling point of water.

You can make water get to above 100 Celsius without adding anything, either by raising the pressure or denying it a nucleation point. You can do that with a microwave, which leads to superheated water, which will explode when an ice cube is dropped in it.

(Another plausible response is to say, "Sorry, lady, but the insurance forbids us from doing it. The other guy got us all yelled at." Because lying to customers isn't a sin.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:21 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I goddamn love my bartender and i don't know why people would ever treat someone serving them delicious booze with anything other than the utmost respect.

ok, i've been drinking.

but let me say this - the other night i was at a small michigan brewery, playing a show. And i swear to god everyone there was a complete dick to me! First off, there were two beers that looked like they were filtered. And you know what I mean by filtered - they didn't have too much wheat, which disagrees with my stomach. anyway, i asked about the two beers. the bartender said, "Well, beer A is a real excellent beer, kind of like a czech lager - real hoppy. beer B is for people who don't like beer."
Well fuck me sideways because i think czech beer tastes like sewer water and i won't drink it. but i sure as hell couldn't order the second beer, because he made me feel like a dick for even asking about it. So I ordered a third beer, which turned out to be great! it was a red lager, real heavy and delicious. man, that was a good beer.
so I went upstairs and we played the first set of our show. people were happy. it was good. we're a good band.
and afterwards i went to the upstairs bar. i noticed that they didn't have my beer, the one i liked. i said, "well, do you have anything else that's filtered?" and the bartender, she said, "filtered.... filtered..... i'm sorry, id on't know what that means." I said, 'you know, filtered beer, without the stuff in it." and she said, "i've worked here 6 years and i don't know what you're talking about." so i got some shitty beer. it was horrible. why didn't the upstairs bar have the same beer as the downstairs bar? We'll never know. and i felt like an asshole for even asking, i guess i don't know enough about beer.

that's my bartender storry from the othe3r night. please don't favorit e this because my girlfriend will read it an know that i been drinking - i'm th eonly person on her contact list.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:21 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I can’t believe folks actually think someone snarking at you justifies putting crap in their food/beverage.
What if you were discovered? What if someone confronted you and had proof?
“Oh, yeah, I pissed in your drink. You should have gone more than 10%”
That’ll go over well.

That said I extend due courtesy to everyone at all times. I don’t believe I’ve ever not said ‘please’ to a waiter or waitress when asking for something.
There’s no excuse to be rude and any decent manager/owner, etc shouldn’t let customers get away with that (yes, not all bosses are decent).

Still man, I’d press charges and bring a civil suit if someone did that to me (granted - if I found out about it).
posted by Smedleyman at 4:24 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


otherwise you can't make water get above a temperature of 100 degrees celsius without adding something to it

That's quite correct. And that seems to be what the barista responding to the old lady seemed to think applied to the situation. This isn't the case for milk drinks however.

The espresso comes out of the machine at a fixed temperature that cannot (practically) be varied. However, for your latte macchiato frappe wotsits it's the temperature of the milk that really drives the temperature of the drink. The milk is initially fridge temperature and is heated by bubbling steam (i.e. >100C) through it. The longer the steam is bubbled through, the warmer the milk gets (obviously).

So, your coffee isn't served at boiling point. It's served at the temperature the barista determines by how long they pass steam through it. Hence my (and others') head-scratches at the barista's insistence the lady was asking for the impossible.

Note that he didn't say, "I can't: it's not safe for me to do so." He said, it's physically impossible because it's "...boiling water, ma'am." Which is nonsense.
posted by NailsTheCat at 4:26 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not to alarm you but speaking as a former service industry person I can guarantee you that by your attitude you, my friend, have unknowingly eaten at least one burger decorated with a couple of loogies and most definitely drank a cocktail or two that somebody dipped their dick into. Probably worse.

Yes - here's a case in point.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on December 1, 2008


He could have just patronized her and said "sure thing".

He could have, but then if she didn't think that it was "extra hot" and complained, he would have had to explain that he can't actually control the temperature after she had paid for and picked up her order.

In my experience, it's much less painful for everyone to clear up misconceptions before the customer gets their drink. Even if the difference is completely in their heads.

Plus, most of my customers are reasonable people who appreciate the explanation rather than get huffy over being "corrected." I'm not going to treat everyone like an insecure idiot just because some people are.

(I've been a barista for years.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:32 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lower. Salt lowers the freezing point and the boiling point of water.

No, klang. Lower freezing point, and higher boiling point.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:38 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is NOTHING compared to what my fuckin' drug dealer thinks of his clientèle. /paranoia
posted by gman at 4:40 PM on December 1, 2008


Hence my (and others') head-scratches at the barista's insistence the lady was asking for the impossible.

There are drinks that do use just hot water and no milk at a coffee shop: Americanos, tea...

I read the original comment as not being sure what drink the customer ordered. Did no one else interpret the flippant tone to "double-half-fat mocchiata whatever" in the same way?

Maybe the barista was a moron, but I've worked with some moron baristas in my time, and none would be unable to figure out that a milk-based drink could be made hotter by steaming the milk longer. Strikes me as unlikely.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:44 PM on December 1, 2008


Heh. While I was typing, I actually thought "melting point," and typed freezing point.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I POST SOBER.

(And, having sold pot as a sideline for a summer, yes, pot heads are the worst customers ever. No, I don't have three hours to chill with you because you bought an eighth. I have to go now.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:45 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


posted by ND¢ Why would I care what someone who pours liquid in a cup for a living thinks about me?

Because what you're about to do with that liquid is Really, Really Not Okay.
posted by mattdidthat at 4:47 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Heh. While I was typing, I actually thought "melting point," and typed freezing point.

Aren't they the same thing, only going in opposite directions?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:54 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


none would be unable to figure out that a milk-based drink could be made hotter by steaming the milk longer

Ah. Indeed. I inferred from "double-half-fat mocchiata whatever" it was a milk based drink--not unreasonably so. Perhaps it was just an Americano or tea.

Darn. We shall never know who the a-hole really was. Fuck it. I bet they both were!
posted by NailsTheCat at 4:57 PM on December 1, 2008


Yeah, no, wait, I was both flummoxed and wrong. Despite my long-held conviction, adding salt to water actually makes it take longer to boil, something that I really should have known. And for some reason the question over melting point and freezing point left me totally unable to think of which direction was which.

Ah well. Again, I shouldn't do this sober. (And I was actually good at chemistry in school!)
posted by klangklangston at 5:02 PM on December 1, 2008


Back in the olden days when I bar-tended one of my daily regulars told me: "if you work really hard, some day, if you're lucky, you can sit on this side of the bar."

True story folks.
posted by dog food sugar at 5:03 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bartenders and servers that routinely complain about bad tips and rude costumers usually are the worst ones at their jobs with the worst attitudes. Costumers that routinely complain about poor service and bad attitudes from service workers are usually the condescending asshole costumer. I can count on my hand the number of times a server was rude to my face, and I eat out at least twice a week and have been for over 12 years. And on the flip side, most of my tips surpass 20% and it's extremely rare if I get less than 15%. The people at my work that complain of bad tips are always the same few people.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:03 PM on December 1, 2008


The point I wanted to make but forgot to finish with my story above is that people talk about satisfying the obnoxious customer and satisfying yourself, the service person, as if they are mutually exclusive. The true artist of the service world will deal with an asshole customer in such a way that they feel like they've gotten exactly what they wanted, and yet every non-asshole watching the exchange can see that they've subtly but masterfully been told that they are, in fact, a giant asshole.
posted by rollbiz at 5:05 PM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


I think that one of the most important reasons to take girls (dates) out to restaurants is to gauge how they treat people in the service industry. If a person treats their waiters, bartenders, or baristas poorly then they are a shitty person. There's no way around this, it is a fact. If you question this statement, then you are probably an asshole too. Your friends, if you have any, will probably confirm this.

There is a difference between patronizing a well appointed bar staffed with master mixologists and sommeliers and a crappy night club. If you have the stones to order a pousse-cafe when everyone else is drinking bottled beer or jack and cokes, then you deserve to be maligned because your are displaying near autistic levels of social retardation.

Similarly, if you are eating at McDonald's, don't ask to have your burger cooked medium rare because you are being asinine.

There are places where you pay a premium to have the staff bend over backwards to appease you, and then there are places where you are paying for food at essentially cost. If you are waiting in line at an establishment with a Wal*Mart business model then don't expect Ritz-Carlton service.

It's just a meal, a cocktail, or a coffee to you, but it is someone else's job and life. One rude customer can ruin a person for the rest of the day; try to be more considerate.
posted by Telf at 5:06 PM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


Here, klang. This makes it all clear. I think.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:10 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just to confirm Rollbiz' point, I once had a customer flip out, throw $160 in twenties at me, and storm off screaming. The other 40+ customers waiting in line actually cheered as the person left.

Ok, maybe that doesn't confirm his point. But the point of the story is that sometimes you deal with crazy people who will throw twenty dollar bills at you even if you're not working in the sex industry.
posted by Telf at 5:10 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've spent a long time working in the service industry, including now when I have an admin job with customer contact. I also go out of my way to be kind to people in the service industry, because I've been there and it sucks. I have had exponentially more shitty experiences with people when I'm on the employee side of the counter than when I am a customer.

I had a woman snap a CD right in front of me, causing shards of plastic to rain on my face and almost get in my eyes, because I wouldn't accept the CD as a return.

I had a guy SCREAM at me because I couldn't raise the limit on his private label credit card.

I saw a guy punch the door of the music store where I worked because he wasn't happy with the amount of money offered for the CDs he wanted to sell. The door cracked and caused enough monetary damage that it was considered felony vandalism.

I had a guy call my work and imply that I had tricked him into getting a service that he didn't want, causing his bill to be triple what it would have been otherwise. Too bad for him that he directed my coworker to do exactly what he'd asked for, because he had absolutely no compunction about baldly lying -- and putting a relative stranger's job on the line -- in an effort to save a couple of hundred bucks.

I've only gotten revenge one time, and that was inadvertently. A couple of years ago I went to a new doctor who was absolutely cruel to me. She called me a liar and gave me shoddy care. And guess who called my office for a quote that very same week? I told my boss the bare outlines of what had happened, mean doctor got a stratospherically high quote, high enough that she would have never bought the product. My boss said he wouldn't want to work with a customer like that anyway.
posted by sugarfish at 5:12 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Finally got around to watching the videos, what a douchebag. One of the related videos that came up was this which reminds me again how much I hate flair bartenders. Four and a half minutes of bottle spinning to make half a dozen shots? Quit playing with your bottles and make me a fucking drink, asshole.
posted by Jawn at 5:14 PM on December 1, 2008


Telf -- I think you're exactly right, but the reverse is also true. Take the statement above that AZ must have had a run of bad bartenders. I don't get that from his posts. What I get is that he's wandered into a variety of Ritz-Carleton locations (with associated prices) and got McDonald's service. That pisses anyone off.

The couple that goes out for that pricey anniversary dinner can also have their once-a-year dinner ruined by the thoughtless waitstaff. Don't think it doesn't work the other way.

(but you're dead on about treatment of service staff generally; it really is a good gauge of personality -- still, just as wrong to have low standards in a pricey place as high standards in a cheap one)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:14 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]



My bartenders love me, I'm putting their kids through college!


Doesn't everyone have a Local where you kinda know everyone and give little gifts on Christmas and New Years to your hard-working bartenders/owners who get you buzzed most nights? No? Just me?


Sigh.
posted by The Whelk at 5:16 PM on December 1, 2008


There is a difference between patronizing a well appointed bar staffed with master mixologists and sommeliers and a crappy night club

Well-appointed bar: "Have you guys ever heard of a vodka martini? Do you think you could make me one? I can tell you the recipe if you like"

Crappy night club: "So, which night do you put on DJs whose collections are less than two years old?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'll add that the sentiment somewhere above of "knowing your job" has most certainly gone out of style. It's far more fashionable to be doing this until something better comes along. As a result, there is a certain required laxity of effort and professionalism.

This sucks.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:21 PM on December 1, 2008


Aside from all of the bickering in the thread, has no one realized that the whole series of videos is essentially a rip-off of Dante and Randle comparing bad customers in Clerks?

OOOOOOOH! Mighty Trucker Magazine!
posted by Ghidorah at 5:23 PM on December 1, 2008


it's 'Mini-Truckin' Magazine," dude.
posted by jonmc at 5:25 PM on December 1, 2008


Oh and another thing: I don't work in the service industry because I'm a sociopath or maladjusted. I work in the service industry because I get a decent enough paycheck and because when I walk out of my office door in the afternoon I'm done with that place. I don't have to worry about overtime or working weekends and I get to go home and work on my real career, the one that doesn't yet pay the bills. It's a trade-off and one I'm happy to make.
posted by sugarfish at 5:26 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The tipping mentality in the US is kinda strange to me. We do appreciate tips, but since we are a self-service bar it usually extends to rounding up the sum, mostly 30 to 50 cents. It's not that tips are unappreciated, we finance our sick leave fund that way.
But since we are all paying ourselves the same wage, we and our employees are not dependent on the good will of the customers to tip and are thus able to exert our own judgement on how to treat unruly drunkards or arrogant pricks.
This is really the thing I appreciate most about working your own bar, since we are self-employed we don't have to put up with the shit you usually have to take in the service industry. It's the reason we opened our own bar after working in bars and cafes for many frustrating years, to be able to tell the assholes to leave your bar and don't have to fear repercussions from your boss.

Astro Zombie: I don't object to being called a drug dealer, I object to being insulted by you as an overpayed asshole because I don't know how you like to drink your overpriced cocktail.
I work minimun wage and only dream of earning 200 bucks a night, and I don't know a single person in my business earning that kind of money, except owners of high-profitable tourist joins perhaps.
posted by kolophon at 5:26 PM on December 1, 2008


I briefly tended bar, and 200 (Cdn) in tips was definitely do-able on a good night. 80-100 was average, and that's not including the min. wage earnings that basically rounded it out, rather than the other way 'round.

That's pouring pints for drunken fratboy louts, though. Strictly volume.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:30 PM on December 1, 2008


Bartenders don't hate me. I've had them blaze me a several times when I'm on holiday in places I wouldn't dare bring my own bud. This one guy told me all about what it was like living in the British Virgin Islands and I told him all about living in Whistler. It was a decent exchange.

Sometimes it's good to ask them to make a decision for you. I've had some pretty interesting drinks at a Starbucks I frequent when I started getting lattes and asked the barista to choose the flavor shot for me and then I'd have to try and guess the flavor. Within a week they were my hook-up for free newspapers.
posted by Pseudology at 5:31 PM on December 1, 2008


Oooh, also good advice for the better sushi bars, Pseudology.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:33 PM on December 1, 2008


Back in the olden days when I bar-tended one of my daily regulars told me: "if you work really hard, some day, if you're lucky, you can sit on this side of the bar."

To which I've responded, "Right now I'm the one making money and you're the one spending it, so it seems like you should be taking MY advice."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:34 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'll have a Guinness please, thanks.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:51 PM on December 1, 2008


Think of salt like a "party pooper" in water. At low temps, the salt interferes with the water molecules who want to hold hands and lie down. Gets in water's face and says "no holding hands!". Until the temp is so low that the salt can't stop the waters from holding hands and clumping up. At high temps, water molecules want to fly away, but salt says, "sorry, no flying" and holds them fast. Until the temp is so high that the water flies away anyway.
posted by telstar at 6:41 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to see the amount of anecdotal evidence being offered up as justification for some sweeping pronouncement on the service industry. "Well, I tended bar for two years in school..." "I knew a bartender once, and he was proud to be a jerk..." Doesn't it all depend on where you go and your expectations of the services to be rendered there?

It's all too subjective, which is no surprise when you think about the product that service-oriented businesses have to market. How do you set prices for a product that may not even be tangible, such as legal advice for example; or for a product that has only a transitory value, like a cocktail? Different people have different expectations, and this is true on both sides of the bar. Are most bartenders and servers passive-aggressive sociopaths or irritable drug addicts? No, but surely some are, especially in the lower tier of businesses. Are most customers selfish brutes and loudmouthed drunks? No, but they're out there, from the sports bars to the rooftop clubs.

The more high-end the establishment the less likely you are to encounter surly or incompetent service. I know, it happens everywhere, but the point is that you are more likely to get great service at Cafe Boulud than at your local Applebees, and you'll pay a hefty premium for that if you feel it's worth it (and will justifiably have higher expectations). The losers and wackos tend to eventually get fired and so tend to gravitate towards equally sub-par businesses, so it should be no shock when your server forgot to order your fried mac-n-cheese bitez, as opposed to your Turbot en papillote.

Conversely, unpleasant customers permeate all levels of society, and their sneering demands, ludicrous expectations and righteous indignation can easily poison the soul of less resilient employees. Which is where videos like these come in. They're fantasies, people! The average service employee wishes they could do some of these things, but rarely do they carry it out, and rarer still do they keep their job afterward!

If you were on the wrong end of some bad service, first take note of the perceived value of the product in question. If you don't like your $3 jack and coke or the person who poured it at the dingy strip-mall bar, too bad. You're welcome to demand absolute perfection, but don't be surprised if you can't get it for three bucks. On the other hand, if your $15 top-shelf cocktail sucks, or if the person who made it is rude or inattentive, then by all means complain to management. Don't berate the person in public, don't torment or demean them. Simply offer little or no tip and if you feel like it have a word with a manager.

People who explode in the middle of a crowded bar and proceed to verbally eviscerate some trembling server are not well-liked, especially by management. It's like the crack house that depresses property values for everyone in an otherwise nice neighborhood. Your outburst disturbs the people around you and damages their perceptions of the value offered by the restaurant. Many places can and will ask you to leave if you're causing a scene, as well they should. "The customer is always right" is invoked by the unpleasant customer like the Fifth Amendment or diplomatic immunity or something. Get over yourself! A bar is a business, not a temple built to honor you! If you don't like it, then don't come back. A manager may try to assuage your anguish, but if they do it's because they need repeat business, not necessarily because you have a valid complaint.

A little common sense goes a long way. If you find yourself excoriating some teenager wearing suspenders and flair for failing to meet your standards, you just might have unrealistic standards for where you are at the time. If you work in the service industry, you'd better have thick skin and a lot of patience or you will quickly be debased. And if you really believe the kind of Ayn Rand-ian, social Darwinist, post hoc ergo propter hoc nonsense that I've seen from some in this thread, which posits that the people who serve you are generally inferior because they haven't managed to succeed as you have -- that feedback loop of ego inflation so popular on the internet these days -- I strongly urge you to stay home at all times, as you are clearly your own best company.
posted by kurtroehl at 6:47 PM on December 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


you are more likely to get great service at Cafe Boulud than at your local Applebees, and you'll pay a hefty premium for that if you feel it's worth it (and will justifiably have higher expectations). The losers and wackos tend to eventually get fired and so tend to gravitate towards equally sub-par businesses, so it should be no shock when your server forgot to order your fried mac-n-cheese bitez, as opposed to your Turbot en papillote.

I've actually gotten great service at several greasy spoons and lousy service at many high-end places. Anecdotal evidence, sure, but so's your whole comment.
posted by jonmc at 7:25 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I coughed up the five clams and joined Metafilter just so I could get in on this discussion. Congratulations are in order for MaryDellamorte, who alone has the power to end four years of lurking.
posted by seagull.apollo at 7:31 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


jonmc, thanks. After many years, I stand corrected.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:38 PM on December 1, 2008


jonmc: I've actually gotten great service at several greasy spoons and lousy service at many high-end places. Anecdotal evidence, sure, but so's your whole comment.

My comment is not anecdotal at all. It is not a short summary of a brief experience, that may or may not be amusing, with which I might be able to make some crude semblance of a point. It is not presented as such. As it happens, I've worked in the restaurant business for many years, as did my father, and therefore could be excused for considering myself an expert, but I did not preface my comment with my bona fides because, as I said, anecdotal evidence is irrelevant. My experiences inform my opinion, and my comment consisted of 100% opinion based on my sense of the facts, not on my impressions after I found a fly in my gin and tonic. So, disagree if you want, although I doubt you do. Are you really trying to suggest that service at a "greasy spoon" will, on average, surpass that at an internationally renowned restaurant? That's pretty ridiculous. I didn't come close to saying that service at diners and burger joints is always bad, just that it is more likely to be bad and one shouldn't be surprised if it is. With your one sentence rebuttal you've expertly cast me as an elitist, I suppose, when I'm far from it. Actually I'm arguing against those who look down on service industry employees and I'd wager that we are actually on the same page, given your previous comments in this thread. Sorry to say but your snark is misplaced here.
posted by kurtroehl at 7:48 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: I don't object to being called a drug dealer, I object to being insulted by you as an overpayed asshole because I don't know how you like to drink your overpriced cocktail.

Not sure why you think I was talking about you, but I would not expect a bartender at a beer bar to know how to make a cocktail. I do have expectations at a beer bar, though, and those are frequently defeated. For instance, I like my beer not to be stale, I like my glasses to be clean, and I like the taps not to be full of gunk. I assume you are not guilty of any of these things.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:52 PM on December 1, 2008


I work in the service industry.

It's kind of strange how many service providers (including people in this thread) seem to think it's degrading to do a good job. If you can't get past that, maybe you should be in a different line of work.

The key to enjoying the work, at least for me, is learning to take pleasure in figuring out how to give people exactly what they need, even if they didn't even know what that was when they first talked to you.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:11 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I sympathize with the bartender who has to put up with the inebriated public. And I blame management for 90% of the problems these people run into. Number 9 I've done, but I was just another customer, not the guy behind the bar.

And currently I'm putting together drink coupons for one of my locals, Obiwan. They've been fucking stellar with me, comping and clearing tables and offering me DJ shifts, as well as working with several of the organizations I work with. To me, that's the gold god damn standard of a bar that's involved with its community. Last night I was there until closing time, talking to the waitstaff, and do you know what they were talking about? There's some spicy German Christmas punch made of boiled wine and a trough of other ingredients. They were pegging down the recipe they're using on Christmas! Holy freakin' cow. How many bars in Asia are going to those lengths? They've been surly with me in the past, and I do see them get surly occasionally, but man, they have awesome management and take care of their base.
posted by saysthis at 8:16 PM on December 1, 2008


kurtroehl: I'd also say that I've been to some very high-end places (like Peter Luger and Angel's Share) where the service was great (and unstuffy) despite what I'd been told to expect. Speaking as a service employee, I can tell just about anyone that the service you get will often be determined by the attitude you bring with you.
posted by jonmc at 8:25 PM on December 1, 2008


Are you really trying to suggest that service at a "greasy spoon" will, on average, surpass that at an internationally renowned restaurant? That's pretty ridiculous

I suppose that 'great service' all comes down to expectations. Both of my regular bars (one in the neighborhood I work in, the other in the one I live in) could both be described as dives. But then again, I rarely order anything more complicated than a draft beer or liquor over ice. but the barkeeps still greet me warmly and shoot the breeze. But I'm not expecting a mixological adventure there, merely a pleasant hour of boozy unwinding.

When I go to Angel's Share (a place known for it's superlative cocktails) I'm expecting a mixological adventure, and I get one, but at the same time, the bartenders have always been very friendly and as willing to hang around and bullshit as the tenders at my neighborhood dive. That's good service.
posted by jonmc at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2008


I find that small, local establishments usually do offer better services than expensive, high-end restaurants and bars. I'll put the local Mexican place being owned and operated by recent immigrants up against any high-end establishment you'd care to name.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:48 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


and don't even get asked to explain it. Just "No."

IMO, a good bartender can make an attempt at a drink by asking how it tastes and what does the customer think is in it. I've been able to guess quite a few. Sometimes it's really hard, though, like if I didn't know how to make Sex on the Beach (four or five variations), it would be difficult to guess by anyone's description, but most people who order those sorts of drinks don't care that much as long as it's fruity and gets them buzzed. Still, when it's made with Cointreau, it really makes the drink, but most bar patrons don't know what that is.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:30 PM on December 1, 2008


You know, regarding the woman who needed her water to be hotter than the standard boil...
Saying that the worker should have smiled and nodded and patronized her, well, that's probably what the last guy did. Which ensured that now she's going to keep making that same stupid request because one person said that they did that for her, and she's going to keep thinking all these other service workers are morons for not knowing how to make the water "extra hot". So maybe perpetuating ignorance isn't the best customer service, even if you want to make the customer happy. If double cupping it was the solution, well, take a second and explain "We can't bring it hotter than a boil, but we can double cup it to keep it hotter longer. See how that works." Give 'em a solution of some sort, sure, but don't lie, cause it's going to fuck it up for some other hapless worker down the road.
posted by redsparkler at 10:31 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also, anyone who thinks that rum and diet coke is too much of a mixed drink to bother with, well, I'm pretty sure they have no business being a bartender. Maybe a water dispenser repairman or something.
posted by redsparkler at 10:32 PM on December 1, 2008


I work for Famous Retailer, in a great, challenging position. We are very aware of what people think of our service (because we ask. A LOT). We do our best to make customers not only happy, but devoted followers of our store, which means we work every day to please our customers. Multiple times a day, before each shift comes on, they meet to discuss what's happening on the floor, how we're doing, what we expect to do. We also find out what customers have said about our service, good and bad.

Often, the negative complaints are legitimate, and that's something we work on. But we also get complaints that are straight absurd. My favorite thus far is the perennial "the store is too busy."

Needless to say, our managers don't seem to mind that one so much.

I think all of us service workers (servies? Servites?) have had points where we LOATHE the sight of a customer. But then again, I've managed to meet some very neat people, and had some awesome conversations with customers just as eager about our product and related products as we are. One thing I'm working on is a sort of verbal and mental Judo: take an unhappy customer and make them a happy customer, by doing my job in a mindful way.

It's really hard.

We all snark. It's what keeps us sane. I think a lot of us know it's unproductive to drive customers away (also, we want to keep our jobs), so negativity doesn't work. I'm trying this mindful thing. I think it'll be a good thing.

Also, I'm totally surprised no one has, as of yet, linked to Not Always Right, true stories about customer horribleness, sometimes silly, sometimes real, nausea inducing horrible. Some of the submissions are clearly things the worker would have said had they been feeling brave that day, but I know a lot of us have been in these scenarios before. (Some of them are clearly from my chain, and it makes me smile).
posted by gc at 10:56 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Was anyone else really hoping for:

Confucius sat outside of the gates of the city, watching visitors arrive. One visitor approached the old man and greeted him with a question:

"Old man, tell me something. What sort of people will I meet in this city?"

Confucius reflected on this for a moment, then asked the traveler, "What sort of people did you meet in the last city you visited?"

"God, that whole city was miserable. The people were rude, and they were mean to strangers, and nobody did anything to make me feel welcome. I'm telling you, people from that city are just plain rotten."

Confucius shook his head sadly at this tale, and with a heavy heart informed the visitor: "I'm sorry to say this, but that's the same kind of people you'll meet in this city, too."

Hours passed, and Confucius continued to sit outside of the city gates. Another visitor approached him.

"Pardon me, sir, I'm sorry to bother you, but can I ask you a question? Would you mind telling me what sort of people will I meet in this city?"

Confucius asked the second traveler, "What sort of people did you meet in the last city you visited?"

"Oh, that city was wonderful...I hated to leave. The people were so generous, and they were kind to everyone, even strangers, and everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome. The people from that city were wonderful."


Confucius looked excited and hopeful. "Oh that sounds awesome, what's the name of that place? Liked I told the last guy, this city is full of assholes."
posted by skwt at 11:01 PM on December 1, 2008 [16 favorites]


IMO, a good bartender can make an attempt at a drink by asking how it tastes and what does the customer think is in it.

Don't most bars have a decent cocktail guide? I've had bartenders express bewilderment at very simple drinks, such as a Harvey Wallbanger, and I always wonder why they didn't just look it up.

But, then, I'm also bewildered why a bartender wouldn't know what a Harvey Wallbanger is. And I know saying so may generate a lot of protestations that it's somehow unfair of me to expect a bartender to know how to do his or her job. I mean, just upthread, asking for fresh ingredients was treated as though I had also just demanded that the bartender follow me into the bathroom and wipe my ass for me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 PM on December 1, 2008


The "art" of mixing drinks is just the common trade of mixing various fluids in various set proportions to make alcohol palatable. A machine could do it and I'm sure there are such machines somewhere, though they're probably more expensive (so far) than an otherwise unskilled laborer.

The real art of being a bartender is the art of keeping your head and being pleasant despite being surrounded by drunken customers scrabbling for another hit of their favorite drug. If you become surly or resentful, if you think you are too cool for the clientele, you're not a good bartender. And if you helped them get drunk, expect them to act like drunken people act. If you don't like drunks, you're in the wrong business.
posted by pracowity at 11:34 PM on December 1, 2008


But we also get complaints that are straight absurd. My favorite thus far is the perennial "the store is too busy."

That could translate to a quite legitimate complaint: "You aren't handling people efficiently and quickly enough, so this place is unnecessarily packed with customers just trying to get the hell out of here." When lines are long but cash registers are closed, for example, customers get pissed off that the manager isn't putting enough people on the machines. Such a complaint could also mean that you're not doing something at the cash register quickly enough: scanning, bagging, counting money, processing cards, resolving unscannable items, etc. Maybe your slowest cashiers need to be reassigned to stocking shelves and your fastest and most accurate need to be given bonuses. Maybe you need to post signs (and run time-dependent sales?) to let customers know what your slowest hours are: encourage regular customers to shop when things are otherwise slow.
posted by pracowity at 11:49 PM on December 1, 2008


Also, I'm totally surprised no one has, as of yet, linked to Not Always Right

Except that someone did already.
posted by puke & cry at 12:00 AM on December 2, 2008


The key to enjoying the work, at least for me, is learning to take pleasure in figuring out how to give people exactly what they need, even if they didn't even know what that was when they first talked to you.

Wow. I'm having that surreal moment when I agree with Dr. President Mr. Steve Elvis America. Hold me.

Also: I totally loved that feeling when I was a barista when someone was undecided, I asked a few questions, made them a drink, and they came *back* to compliment it when they were finished. Anytime someone said "Oh wow, this is great" brought IMMENSE joy to my life. So, moral of the story: If you like something, tell your server! They really DO care!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:09 AM on December 2, 2008


Don't most bars have a decent cocktail guide? I've had bartenders express bewilderment at very simple drinks, such as a Harvey Wallbanger, and I always wonder why they didn't just look it up.

I worked at a restaurant/bar and tended bar a few nights and yes, there was a manual and also, I was trained by other staff who had (obvs.) done it a few times before. Whenever I didn't know, I asked the customer how it was usually made (if they seemed approachable - some have the vibe of "I'm going to roll my eyes at you if you don't psychically know what I'm talking about") or another staff member, or last resort - I'd read the book. The book isn't always the best because often there's a "trick" to it that's learned from experience.

Anyhoo, yes there are books, but often it's best to just ask the customer. Never hurts to admit ignorance if it helps get someone *exactly* what they want.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:13 AM on December 2, 2008


Don't most bars have a decent cocktail guide?

Heh, no.

I've pretty much given up on getting a mint julep in a restaurant. Only one place out of a half dozen got it right. Dunno why. It's a truly simple cocktail: bourbon, mint, and simple syrup. Maybe the simplicity of the drink is throwing 'em off: "Gosh, that was too easy... better add some lime."

But if I order a "mint julep, without the lime", then I'm an idiot customer. *sigh*
posted by ryanrs at 4:40 AM on December 2, 2008


But, then, I'm also bewildered why a bartender wouldn't know what a Harvey Wallbanger is.

If you've never made one, then why would you know what it is? At my current bartending job which I've been at for four years, I've never had any ask for that drink. However, I do know what one is because at my previous bartending job, I made one once or twice. Seriously, in the 10 years that I've been waiting tables and/or bartending, I can count on one hand the times people asked for that drink. And a mint julep? I've never had anyone ever ask for that.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:03 AM on December 2, 2008


I've pretty much given up on getting a mint julep in a restaurant. Only one place out of a half dozen got it right. Dunno why. It's a truly simple cocktail: bourbon, mint, and simple syrup.

Instead of asking for a "mint julep" why don't you just ask for a drink consisting of "bourbon, mint and simple syrup?"
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:05 AM on December 2, 2008


This is in a restaurant, so I'm not talking directly to the bartender. Passing a list of instructions to my server would be awkward and error-prone. Besides, who orders drinks by ingredient? These things are named for a reason.

A mint julep is not some obscure drink. It's a classic American cocktail and will be listed in any bartending guide. Even The Joy of Cooking has it (see pg. 60).
posted by ryanrs at 6:49 AM on December 2, 2008


Ryanrs, I was trying to offer you some help since the people looking in the bartending guides have obviously not gotten it right. Usually in those guides, there are about 3 variations for every drink. No, it is not uncommon for someone to order a drink by ingredient and I'd actually prefer that if someone was asking for something I've never made. Who cares if you have to pass the list off to the server to give to the bartender? Happens all the time. It may be a "classic American cocktail" but I've never had any ask for one in my ten years experience, so it's an outdated classic American cocktail. Quit being hard headed about this, I was only trying to help.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:01 AM on December 2, 2008


I think we can safely say that bartenders and bar patrons are all pretty much louts.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:02 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


And you know what I mean by filtered - they didn't have too much wheat, which disagrees with my stomach.

I could just be an idiot, but I've never heard of filtered meaning that for beer. Filtered beer normally refers to beer that doesn't contain leftover yeast. After a beer is done brewing, you can either filter out the yeast, or leave it in the beer.

Wheat, on the other hand, is something that's either used in making beer or not used. There's no filtering of wheat. German beers are often wheat-based. It sounds like you might have had an Amber Ale or an Irish Red, which usually tend to be more hoppy than the average beer. The "beer for people who don't like beer" was probably a light lager or ale, with not heavy flavor in any direction.

Small breweries can be hit and miss as far as the waitstaff actually knowing anything about beer. Most of the time you'll just have to randomly pick a beer that you might not end up liking, or order a flight of beer samples and try a bunch of different ones.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:54 AM on December 2, 2008


24 hours on, and despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage.
posted by gman at 8:14 AM on December 2, 2008


Happens all the time. It may be a "classic American cocktail" but I've never had any ask for one in my ten years experience, so it's an outdated classic American cocktail.

It is ordered with great frequency in New Orleans, as is the Gin Fizz and the Sazerac, although one could argue New Orleans is "outdated" as well. I guess it depends where the bartender is. A Mint Julep is probably never ordered at Cabo Wabo, for example.
posted by plexi at 8:48 AM on December 2, 2008


Instead of asking for a "mint julep" why don't you just ask for a drink consisting of "bourbon, mint and simple syrup?"

Because . . . that's insane? Because I'm going to assume that my bartender has actually heard of a classic American drink that has existed for (I estimate) one billion years? (I admit that I am spoiled in that my local bar always has fresh mint on hand.)

I don't get what you're saying, honestly, and you seem kind of hostile about the whole thing. You'd rather have a customer say "Can I get some orange juice and some vodka" rather than "Screwdriver, please"? This is like asking your friendly neighborhood waiter for "bread, lightly grilled and buttered" in lieu of just saying "toast."
posted by Skot at 9:04 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


trendy cafes around here have been offering "bread, lightly grilled & buttered" for years now.

you get to choose your topping, too: a coulis of strawberry or orange-peel preserve.

some opt for classic vegemite, which is smeared onto the BLG&B with an artistic flourish.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:23 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Vegemite is a mass hypnosis induced illusion. There is no Vegemite.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dolemite, on the other hand, does exist and is totally badass.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:33 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


*snaps out*

why is my mouth full of tarry black maggots?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:38 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have sometimes asked for a "vodka and orange" b/c I felt that saying "screwdriver, please" at the time would have been taken as a sleazy gesture.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:41 AM on December 2, 2008


"The more high-end the establishment the less likely you are to encounter surly or incompetent service. I know, it happens everywhere, but the point is that you are more likely to get great service at Cafe Boulud than at your local Applebees, and you'll pay a hefty premium for that if you feel it's worth it (and will justifiably have higher expectations)."

See, I disagree with this. Back when I was on the board for my co-op, I went to an assload of conferences around North America, and (since I had a hefty per diem) I tried to eat at places that I normally wouldn't have been able to afford (and certainly wouldn't have been able to afford to eat at every night of the week).

I realize that you're trying to remove the anecdote from this, and instead are positing the theory—the more you pay, the better it should be. (Either that or you're begging the "high end" question). There is certainly a relationship between decor and price, and the appearance of servility and price, but that does not mean that there is better service dependent upon price. Good service entails a knowledge and devotion to your craft, and the goal of sharing that knowledge and devotion.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive to this than most. Because I'm a vegetarian (as is my long-time girlfriend, who usually accompanied me), I am immediately a challenge for some restaurants. I try to avoid ones where I know there will be nothing for me to eat, but when I am at a restaurant I am nearly immediately aware of the caliber of their service simply from how they answer the question of what I can eat there. At some places, even if they don't have anything on the regular menu, the servers (and the chef) take it as an opportunity for creativity and exhibition of their skill. But I've also been to high-end places where I'm seen as a burden and, at best, to be condescended to. I don't want just a salad for dinner, thanks, and if I'm going to be charged at least $25 for one, you can cram it up your ass.

One last thing that I'd agree with you on—you are more likely to get great service anywhere but Applebees. Chain restaurants are, even though they can ostensibly be higher-end than greasy spoons, the absolute worst in service and skill. I get better service from hole-in-the-wall ethnic shop fronts than in chain restaurants. The food sucks, the workers hate being there, and the flaws of the management are obvious.
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've made countless mint juleps, mostly because one bar I used to work in would have a Derby Day party and we'd sell the things by the pitcher. Great way of getting rid of well bourbon, if you ask me, because after two of them you can't tell Maker's Mark from Heaven Hill. I wouldn't know a sazerac if it bit me on the ass.

There is a type of customer (some of whom appear to be posting in this thread) who apparently show up at the bar thinking it's "stump the bartender" night. These people inevitably show up at 7 PM on a busy Friday and ask for a Great Horned Owl* and then get a hard-on when I don't know how to make one, like they've won the battle or something. Then they instruct me how to make the damn thing and it usually involves egg white and multiple shakers and equipment I haven't used in six weeks. Then they can feel all superior, because they just Taught The Bartender Something.

No, asshole, what you just did was take money out of my pocket, because I couldn't get a round of beers and Cuervo shots out to my regulars down at the end there, or I didn't have time to sell that couple in booth 6 on the nice bottle of Chilean red that would go great with their entrees, because you just wasted five minutes of my life telling me how to make a drink you once saw your granddaddy make and you needed to share this because there is an emptiness inside you that can only be filled by lecturing a bartender during the Friday slam.

So yes, I personally WOULD rather have a guest ask for a drink by ingredient if it's a cocktail I'm unfamiliar with. It'll save me time and it'll ensure that the guest gets the drink he or she desires. And if that robs you of your opportunity to demonstrate your superior knowledge of obscure cocktails, well, that's just a bonus, from my side of the bar.

*There is, to my knowledge, no such drink. I made it up for demonstration purposes.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:20 AM on December 2, 2008 [10 favorites]


So yes, I personally WOULD rather have a guest ask for a drink by ingredient if it's a cocktail I'm unfamiliar with.

But how will they know you're unfamiliar with it if they don't ask for it by name? I'm only asking because I don't want to piss my bartender off by asking for something ridiculous, but I also don't want to condescend by asking for gin and vermouth shaken, strained into a glass and garnished with olives. I know, I know - a martini is not a great example. But I'm not well-versed enough in cocktails to know what's obscure and what isn't.

If I asked, "Do you know how to make a great horned owl?" as opposed to "Make me a great horned owl," would that be okay?
posted by Evangeline at 11:00 AM on December 2, 2008


Because I'm a vegetarian... At some places, even if they don't have anything on the regular menu, the servers (and the chef) take it as an opportunity for creativity and exhibition of their skill. But I've also been to high-end places where I'm seen as a burden and, at best, to be condescended to.

klangklangston,

I respect your comments and your opinions and am not saying this to be an ass. Having worked in kitchens before, I can assure you that no chef wants the opportunity
to create a vegetarian entree in the middle of a dinner rush when they are busy organizing the dishes of some other 200+ diners. Expecting a restaurant to create a novel dish off of the menu shows a gross misunderstanding of how restaurants work. There is a menu for a reason, please try to order off of it.

Unfortunately vegetarians and especially vegans are usually burdens who are at best condescended to. Restaurants, especially good restaurants, want to make the best food possible. Asking them to suddenly not use butter, chicken stock, fonde or whatever, presents a serious handicap to good cuisine. Yes you can get good vegetarian cuisine, at vegetarian restaurants. At other restaurants you may have to settle for salads. Some dietary decisions are personal sacrifices that you must shoulder. Very few Orthodox Jews walk into a Taco Bell expecting the food to be kosher.

I think that one of the reasons behind the rampant mediocrity of most restaurants in the US is their desire to please everyone. I've seen too many people flip out over a restaurant that doesn't offer ranch, chicken fingers, or quesadillas. Here's a little trick I do before patronizing an unknown restaurant, I ask to look over the menu. If you don't like the menu, then it's not the restaurant for you.
posted by Telf at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


There is a type of customer (some of whom appear to be posting in this thread) who apparently show up at the bar thinking it's "stump the bartender" night.

Cooks generally don't resign themselves to cooking any bloody thing that the customer asks for. There's a menu. Why don't bartenders just say no to stupid drinks? "Sorry, we don't do that one. Here's a list of drinks you can have. If it's not on there, you can't have it."
posted by pracowity at 11:11 AM on December 2, 2008


*sigh*

The Great Horned Owl:

-Muddle fresh bergamot zest (orange zest if your bar is poorly stocked) and whole cloves with one egg white.

-Strain with 2oz Galliano (you'll recognize the distinctive bottle) into a shaker filled with chipped frozen Earl Gray tea (ordinary ice will do in a pinch.)

-Shake well and strain into a pousse-cafe glass. Garnish with 2 cinnamon sticks and a curl of lemon, add a float of Grappa and serve flaming.

I can't BELIEVE anyone would dare to call himself a bartender without knowing how to make this classic drink.
posted by contraption at 11:16 AM on December 2, 2008 [21 favorites]


Unfortunately vegetarians and especially vegans are usually burdens who are at best condescended to. Restaurants, especially good restaurants, want to make the best food possible. Asking them to suddenly not use butter, chicken stock, fonde or whatever, presents a serious handicap to good cuisine.

Or your restaurant could contain at least one vegetarian/vegan item and you could skip the condescending bullshit lies about how top-quality cuisine requires you to use particular products.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:20 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The customer is always right vegetarian is always entitled.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:26 AM on December 2, 2008


I'm eating a tenderloin as I type this. (That's the Indiana tenderloin, a flat, salted piece of breaded pork on a burger bun. Fucking yum, I say.) This has nothign to do with vegetarian entitlement. We're talking about a nice restaurant, not a fucking steakhouse.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on December 2, 2008


Slithy Tove:

Vodka
Secret ingredient that any REAL bartender will know about

Shake, strain into martini glass, garnish with eye of newt.
posted by Evangeline at 11:35 AM on December 2, 2008


"and you could skip the condescending bullshit lies about how top-quality cuisine requires you to use particular products."

I'm going to let that comment speak for itself and you can evaluate it's veracity on your own.
posted by Telf at 11:35 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a big difference between "Sorry, but our chef uses chicken or beef stock or duck fat in the following items" and "Duh, of course the vegetable soup is vegetarian, its called 'vegetable soup.' I've seen it, it's just a lotta vegetables." The first lets me know which items I should avoid, the second lets me know I'll just have to guess and hope for the best. Even if your restaurant doesn't specifically cater to vegetarians, you can be aware that liquid or powdered meat is still meat and take the trouble to find out from the kitchen which items don't contain any.
posted by contraption at 11:38 AM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


"I can assure you that no chef wants the opportunity
to create a vegetarian entree in the middle of a dinner rush when they are busy organizing the dishes of some other 200+ diners. Expecting a restaurant to create a novel dish off of the menu shows a gross misunderstanding of how restaurants work. There is a menu for a reason, please try to order off of it.
"

I know that you're trying not to be an ass, so I'll try to ignore the vast amounts of bullshit in your comment. I've worked in restaurants too. And, as I typed that comment, I was thinking of the absolutely phenomenal service I got at a place in Florence, where the Maitre d', upon hearing that we were vegetarians, swept down and, with a little friendly banter, declared what each of us would have based on a couple of questions. Some was substitutions, some was off-menu, all of it was absolutely fucking fantastic. I had an order of basil gnudi that was one of the best meals of my life. The chef was simply adamant that no one would come into his restaurant and not eat an amazing meal.

So, no, I understand just how service and restaurants work, and I acknowledge this as toward the higher end. But just a month or two ago, a Thai chef, unprompted, prepared several off-menu items upon hearing that my girlfriend and I were vegetarian, because it allowed him to cook more in an authentic Thai style than the fried chicken and plantains that were on the menu at a tiny ten-seater.

I'll also say that as someone who has been a vegetarian my whole life, I understand exactly the denial and sacrifice that entails, and kindly ask you to rein in your presumption about me and my diet. Because, as you say, you were not trying to be an ass, I am not telling you to shut the fuck up about something you obviously know little about.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on December 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


-Muddle fresh bergamot zest (orange zest if your bar is poorly stocked) and whole cloves with one egg white.

Jesus, I can't believe you left out the pellet. It's the most important part of the drink, which imparts the unmistakable furry, musty aroma that makes it a Great Horned Owl.

You're such a poseur, contraption.
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Here's a little trick I do before patronizing an unknown restaurant, I ask to look over the menu. If you don't like the menu, then it's not the restaurant for you."

Oh, and ps.—Often, especially regarding business meals for the co-op, I had no agency in which restaurant was chosen. I don't begrudge a shrug and salad suggestion at Applebees, but I don't consider that dining. Perhaps you do, despite your pretense to actual restaurant experience.
posted by klangklangston at 11:45 AM on December 2, 2008


I never said you were a vegetarian. I could care less what anyone eats, but why should Telf's or any other restaurant be obligated to provide a vegetarian/vegan option? If they don't serve what a patron wants or are unwilling to compromise their product by using margarine instead of butter - or, say, putting ice in their coffee - that's their prerogative. Even if it's pretentious, I'd respect their stance and consider any establishment that would stick by their guns and not lower their standards by adulterating their product to be far more of a "nice restaurant" than some place where they'll throw any old slop into the pan (Obviously, allergy issues are an exception).

If the customer's unhappy, they can vote with their dollar and try one of the many places that are more than happy to cater to their culinary preferences.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:45 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or, see Contraption's comment for an excellent distinction between good service and poor service, both of which I have had at high-end restaurants. Good service facilitates, you know, actually eating at the restaurant. Bad service hinders getting the meal that you want.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 AM on December 2, 2008


rtha: of course the pellet is part of the classic GHO, however you must know that in a commercial setting health codes strictly forbid the use of untreated animal waste products as ingredients. Of course some establishments will choose to include a bleached vole skull for show, but I've always found that a little cheesy. Just save the pellets for gatherings of friends, I say.
posted by contraption at 11:49 AM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


"(Obviously, allergy issues are an exception)."

Why?

And, like was mentioned up-thread, there are different ways of handling the question.

Finally, as to why they should have a vegan or vegetarian option, well, so that more people can eat there. Or even because sometimes meat eaters like a vegetarian option.
posted by klangklangston at 11:51 AM on December 2, 2008


Evangeline: That's a valid question. I was never offended when a guest asked if I knew how to make something. It was either an opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge or to learn something new. What's offensive is when they want to teach me granddaddy's recipe during a rush. So, in a perfect world, the exchange would go something like this:

You: Can you make a Great Horned Owl?
Me: Tell me what's in it, and if we've got it, I'll make it. Gimme a sec to get this round out to these guys and stop by that booth, and I'll be right with you.
You: (patiently waits, smokes a cigarette, looks sultry and attractive, thus encouraging more bar business)
Me: (pours beers and shots, sells a bottle of wine, jumps back behind the bar) OK! So what's in a Grape Slithy Tove?
You: It's called a Great Horned Owl. It's bergamot zest, whole cloves, one egg white, a four-count of Galliano and frozen Earl Grey tea strained into a pousse-cafe garnished with cinnamon sticks and lemon zest and floated with grappa, served flaming.
Me: OK. That'll take me three hours and cost $28. And flaming drinks violate the fire code, sorry. How about a Washington Apple? They're delicious.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:55 AM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


patiently waits, smokes a cigarette

I can smoke indoors!?! Tell me, where is this magical bar of which you speak? Oh wait, you're in Alabama, where there's still some measure of civility.
posted by Evangeline at 12:02 PM on December 2, 2008


Because, as you say, you were not trying to be an ass, I am not telling you to shut the fuck up about something you obviously know little about.

Oh.... I see what you did there. Very clever.

Ok this debate has become a little to heated for me, so I'm going to bow out.

Again to klangklangston and also to Pope Guilty, I usually enjoy your comments. Sorry this vegetarian thing rubs you the wrong way.
posted by Telf at 12:06 PM on December 2, 2008


Finally, as to why they should have a vegan or vegetarian option, well, so that more people can eat there. Or even because sometimes meat eaters like a vegetarian option.

This. I'm an omnivore, married to a vegetarian. We like to eat out. Usually I order some meat thing, since we don't cook meat at home (unless my sweetheart goes out of town and then I go all carnivore), but it's awfully nice to go to a restaurant where one glance at the menu tells us that there's more than one thing on the menu my partner can eat. Places that offer one pasta dish, or not-very-glorified steamed veggies as the only vegetarian option lose the custom of both of us (and, of course, whatever friends are with us).

And given the number of people who are trying to eat low-fat/less red meat/etc. meals, it's wise to make the menu as appealing as possible.

Also: Can't make decent food without butter, fonde, etc? I guess you've never eaten at a Japanese restaurant, then.
posted by rtha at 12:07 PM on December 2, 2008


Of course some establishments will choose to include a bleached vole skull for show, but I've always found that a little cheesy.

Well, yeah. It's a nice touch to curl the lemon zest around some leg bones, though. (These days, you can also get pellets that have been fully sterilized - that might get kind of expensive for the bar, though, so it's no wonder most of them skip it.)
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on December 2, 2008


Sorry, ma'am. We're out of pellets. I substituted a mouse turd. Enjoy!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:16 PM on December 2, 2008


Only one? There goes your tip, cheapskate.
posted by contraption at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obviously, allergy issues are an exception
>Why?


Even if it is a health-motivated choice, rather than one of personal taste or principles, vegan/vegetarians still make a personal choice not to consume animal products, same as people who keep kosher or eat only halal-prepped. I don't believe a restaurant's unwillingness to comply with those personal choices is discriminatory in the same way as refusing the request of a patron who cannot consume a product due to a medical condition ("I don't eat that shit" vs. "I can't eat that shit").

And if a good restaurant gets enough inquiries regarding veg option or complaints of the lack thereof, they'll wise up and put one on the menu. If they feel their business doesn't need to do that, why should they be obligated to?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:21 PM on December 2, 2008


"I don't believe a restaurant's unwillingness to comply with those personal choices is discriminatory in the same way as refusing the request of a patron who cannot consume a product due to a medical condition ("I don't eat that shit" vs. "I can't eat that shit")."

If the justification for not making vegetarian food is that it's some capitulation in not using the best possible ingredients to make the best possible food, that objection would be there just as much for food allergies. A lactose intolerance is the same from an ingredients perspective as an ethical objection to eating dairy. The only way around that is to argue that people should be eating meat and dairy unless they're prevented by issues of personal harm, which I don't think you're willing to do.

"And if a good restaurant gets enough inquiries regarding veg option or complaints of the lack thereof, they'll wise up and put one on the menu. If they feel their business doesn't need to do that, why should they be obligated to?"

Who's talking about obligating? Don't be stupid. Excellent service is to serve your guest. Even if there's no way to do that (which is rarely the case), the method of communicating that is generally an excellent example of how good the service is.

"Again to klangklangston and also to Pope Guilty, I usually enjoy your comments. Sorry this vegetarian thing rubs you the wrong way."

I've been a vegetarian for nigh 30 years now, and yes, it rubs me the wrong way when people presume to lecture me about the behavior of vegetarians, or how I should understand restaurants. I've dealt with these issues my entire life, and have worked in restaurants, and also have a fair reserve of peevishness toward people who think that a) asking about a vegetarian option is beyond the pale, and b) that vegetarians are all demanding bastards.
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 PM on December 2, 2008


And, after a bit of googling and help from my father, this is the restaurant in Florence, which I highly recommend (though it seems to have lost its stars since we came through).
posted by klangklangston at 12:49 PM on December 2, 2008


"(Obviously, allergy issues are an exception)."

Why?


Because an actual food allergy (as opposed to the made-up ones that a lot of people claim to have simply because they don't like something) can kill you. Unanticipated chicken stock in the soup the vegetarian ordered is unlikely to do so.
posted by dersins at 12:55 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


unanticipated tofu can also make one violently ill, so it goes both ways.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:57 PM on December 2, 2008


Ahh ee ohh, Killer Tofu.

(At work, can't get YouTube, apologies if that's something other than the expected video.)
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:18 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


although I'm not a vegetarian, I've been a picky enough eater for my entire life that I'm pretty familiar with the attitudes restaurants take towards off-menu or altered orders. If you ever want to see what real condescension and resentment looks like, forget being vegan. Try explaining that you don't want tomatoes in anything served to you (tomatoes being, I believe one of the top 3 most commonly used ingredients in the world, almost regardless of region) not because of an allergy or moral dilemma but simply because you don't like them. The fact is that I'm as accomodating as I can possibly be to all restaurants I go to because I know that my preferences are my own. What I've discovered is that restaurants have two reactions to any dietary concern: they either grudgingly put up with it and sneer, or they have simply devoted themselves to satisfying their customers and see no problem whatsoever. Neither is especially right or wrong, though I obviously prefer eating at the latter.

Here's a simpler ferinstance: what temperature to get meat served at. If asked, in some places I will feel like I should just get what the chef recommends. In others, when I ask what the chef recommends, the answer is simply "we recommend whatever you'd most enjoy." and if I don't know they're happy to tell me what most people like and even share their own opinions, but merely as suggestions.

Sure, I know some restaurants take umbrage at the slightest alteration. i remember reading an article here from a chef who liked to tell her customers that if they want their food their way perhaps they should go to Burger King. That's her prerogative. But I find it difficult to believe that the standard among restauranteurs is to harbor such deep resentment of peculiar eaters.
posted by shmegegge at 1:23 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I ask for a slight variation to the bartender preparing a Great Horned Owl, I sure as hell hope he doesn't punch me in the dick.
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on December 2, 2008


That is -- unless he's cute.
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on December 2, 2008


It's called a Great Horned Owl. It's bergamot zest, whole cloves, one egg white, a four-count of Galliano and frozen Earl Grey tea strained into a pousse-cafe garnished with cinnamon sticks and lemon zest and floated with grappa, served flaming.

Okay ... who here is brave enough to actually make and drink a Great Horned Owl?
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on December 2, 2008


"Because an actual food allergy (as opposed to the made-up ones that a lot of people claim to have simply because they don't like something) can kill you. Unanticipated chicken stock in the soup the vegetarian ordered is unlikely to do so."

Yes, and? Wouldn't a chef devoted to making, say, Pad Thai, then simply say it couldn't be made and tell someone to eat elsewhere?

Look, I've got a co-worker who can't eat milk. Gives him horrible gut pains. The Italian restaurant across the street listened as he ordered a sandwich that was basically just chicken, mozzarella and basil, but hold the cheese because he can't eat it. Then they went ahead and served it to him with cheese. When he complained to the owner (who is also the chef), the owner told him first, "Lactose intolerant? That's not a thing." Then told him that this was the only way he made the sandwich and if he didn't like it, he could get the hell out.

That Keith's lactose intolerance is or isn't real isn't the issue—the issue is that the chef was a massive fucking cock about the whole thing. Arguing about what is or isn't legitimate (beef has made me violently ill; accidental bits of pork haven't) ignores the underlying point that the transaction at a restaurant is supposed to be win-win. I'm certainly cautious about the restaurants I choose to go to, as is everyone I know with dietary issues or preferences. But that doesn't give carte blanche to be an asshole because you perceive someone else's dietary restrictions as more or less legitimate, and thus more or less subject to your discretion.

If shmeggege doesn't like tomatoes, well, then, the server should work with him to find something that he will like that doesn't have tomatoes and that should be the fucking end of it. If there's absolutely nothing without tomatoes in the restaurant, they should still be gracious and work to maximize his pleasure while he is there. That's good service, and when you're in a fucking service industry, giving good service should be one of those intrinsic goals.
posted by klangklangston at 1:41 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to drink a Great Horned Owl, but I will share a cocktail I once invented on the spur of the moment to piss off a group of women who were running me to death requesting excruciatingly candy-sweet "martinis".

It's called the Doughnut Martini, and I swear I actually made a round of these. Once.

1.25 oz Stoli Vanil vodka
.25 oz Godiva White Chocolate liqueur
dash Bailey's Irish Cream
dash coconut milk
Half and half to fill

Shake over ice and strain into chilled martini glass rimmed with graham cracker crumbs. Garnish with one of those little powdered donuts that you buy at the gas station, slit to fit on the rim.

I take no responsibility for your mood, level of queasiness, or any other condition that may result from consumption of this cocktail.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:06 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Here's an exotic cocktail that seems to be unknown these days, judging from what I see at bars and clubs. But I like it:

2 ounces high quality gin.
.5 or .25 ounce of dry vermouth

Stir, garnish with olive if desired. Drink.

Yes, I know it sounds strange and foreign but it seems to work.
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2008


I love to go to vegan restaurants and order Steak Tartar or Prime Rib. They see it as a real challenge.
posted by tkchrist at 2:32 PM on December 2, 2008


Your analogy would be better if you went to a vegan restaurant and wanted something without soy.

Which I've seen, and most vegan places seem pretty happy to work with.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on December 2, 2008


Look, I've got a co-worker who can't eat milk. Gives him horrible gut pains. The Italian restaurant across the street listened as he ordered a sandwich that was basically just chicken, mozzarella and basil, but hold the cheese because he can't eat it. Then they went ahead and served it to him with cheese.

Does lactose-intolerance apply to buffalo milk as well? Because, you know, if it ain't made from buffalo milk, it simply ain't mozzarella (ditto goat milk & fetta).

who here is brave enough to actually make and drink a Great Horned Owl?

I don't know about making one, but I'd drink one on a dare, as long as it was plucked & well-blended.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:58 PM on December 2, 2008


Your analogy would be better if you went to a vegan restaurant and wanted something without soy.

What happened to maximizing my please while I'm there? I want prime rib.

No. I don't. Because I wouldn't DO that. I wouldn't go to any restaurant an order off the menu - basic substitutions aside. Because it's rude.

I think at this point you're cherry picking what you want to consider.

The niche in my business is we do design for the hospitality and restaurant industry. Many of higher end clients serve a particular cuisine with very select ingredients. Which to them is seen as a form of art with culture and history inextricably wrapped up in the preparation. And important to this cuisine can be meat.

While I have never heard of any one of the chefs we do work with having any sort of problem with a reasonable request of an item substitution, especially those based in health. I do know not one of them would find it very agreeable or polite for a customer to demand them to forge a unique menu item. This seems common sense to me.
posted by tkchrist at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


You wouldn't order meat in a vegetarian restaurant because it's an ideologically-based business. Most restaurants' ideologies are "tasty", not "meaty".
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:22 PM on December 2, 2008


Pint of Guinness, no logo on the foam.

/Super Hans
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:23 PM on December 2, 2008


It is MeFi policy never to imply ownership in the event of a bartender. We have to use the indefinite article "the bartender", never "your bartender".

Mainly, it's because if and when I can say that a bartender is "my" bartender, I'm a regular at the bar and on very good terms with the person serving me. "Your" bartender should be a buddy you could chat passively with if the time calls for it, wax philosophic with if it's a quiet night, or sit in comfortable silence with if you just need a drink.

It is one of the main reasons I don't like to tip out of expectation (though I will), but out of true appreciation.
posted by self at 3:25 PM on December 2, 2008


You wouldn't order meat in a vegetarian restaurant because it's an ideologically-based business.

So what? So they CAN discriminate but "regular" restaurant can't? So if my favorite Tuscan place that specializes in Wild Boar decides that serving wild boar is an ideological stand in order to preserve wild boar habitat, er, something.

Oh. What's the use.

Look. You can't have it both ways. There is simply no argument for it.

At some places it's all about the "cuisine." Other restaurants not so much. But some it really is about an entire cultural and historical context and a form of art in the preparation. They assume that is what has brought you there.
posted by tkchrist at 3:33 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most restaurants' ideologies are "tasty", not "meaty".

Most? Really. Of what particular strata of cuisine? Please provide a cite.

"Most" of the restaurants I work with the meaty is inextricably linked to the tasty.

I have one client that is a high-end vegetarian place. His place is successful and rated highly becuase his dished don't try to merely simulate dishes from other traditionaly meat using cuisine.

He recognizes that there is a purity and integrity to the food that is important to some people. And he would be the first to tell you the same would hold true for most meat based cuisines.

Anyway. reading through the hostile responses to Telf and others this derail has gotten way too nasty and needlessly rude over nothing. I'm pretty much done.
posted by tkchrist at 3:43 PM on December 2, 2008


You'd rather have a customer say "Can I get some orange juice and some vodka" rather than "Screwdriver, please"?

I wouldn't care, if it were me. I also have almost always ordered a Cape Cod as "vodka & cranberry juice" since one time someone didn't know what it was. No one has ever looked askance.

Though now we're talking about Prime Rib in a vegan restaurant, which seems to me to be the equivalent of going to a Chinese place and asking for a grilled cheese sandwich. At that point, it's not about them being accommodating, it's about you being A ASSHOLE.

Going someplace and asking "What do you have to accommodate my being vegetarian and/or total hatred of the tomato?" is different than going into a steak house and ordering tofu Pad Thai. And again, this is one of those things where HOW you ask is going to have a huge impact on what you get. Ask nicely, and the restaurant will probably find a way so that everyone's happy - you're fed, and they're paid. Be a douche about it, and you'll probably get the culinary equivalent of a dick punch.

And again, as someone else said, if you don't feel like making something to someone else's request, you'd probably be best hanging up your apron and getting started on some TPS reports. Then again, if you're in the service industry, you deal with this nine hundred times a day and you've seen way weirder and way worse than this guy with the jihad on the tomato.

(There was no typo in this comment.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:52 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


As an aside, the (extremely meat-heavy) menu (PDF!) at the restaurant here in Portland whose food I love most has a note at the bottom saying "substitutions politely declined."

This seems to be a reasonable and polite way of letting patrons know that their dislike of tomatoes (sorry to shmegegge) or their desirefor a vegan option (sorry to nobody) are not going to be accommodated. That said, he always has a different, great vegetarian dish on the menu.

I've occasionally even forgone my love of flesh to order the vegetarian option in the past. There's something kind of fun about ordering a foie gras appetizer followed by a vegetarian entree. Followed, of course, by the single best dessert ever created-- honey-bacon-apricot cornbread served with maple ice cream and drizzled with maple syrup dotted with tiny, perfect morsels of the best bacon I've ever had.
posted by dersins at 4:30 PM on December 2, 2008


"I do know not one of them would find it very agreeable or polite for a customer to demand them to forge a unique menu item. This seems common sense to me."

Oh, man, if you keep whalin' that straw man, he may never get up!

Right, so, if you'd like to stop being stupid—when I go into a restaurant and say "I don't eat meat. What do you have that's vegetarian?" I'm not demanding for them to forge me a unique menu item. I'm asking them what they have. It is acceptable for them to say, "I'm sorry sir, we don't have a single item that could be made without meat." I think it's kinda dumb, and that they're likely lying, but whatever. It's great service for them to say, well, nothing on the menu, but we can find something that will work. It's shitty service to act like this is somehow an affront to them.

Likewise, if you go to a vegan restaurant and say, y'know, I only eat meat, what can you do for me, and they say, sorry, we don't stock any, that's not rude. People ask for meat in vegan restaurants all the time, and they're politely told no. In fact, vegetarian and vegan restaurants kind of expect it. They'll probably make fun of you in the kitchen, but will be courteous to your face.

Do you get the distinction? Or are you just trying to be a dick and picking this issue to stand on?
posted by klangklangston at 4:31 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Klang I think it's you being a rude. As usual. So far you've been overtly hostile to several people in this thread for no reason. Do you ever filter yourself at all? Why so emotional and hysterical here? There is simply no reason for it.
posted by tkchrist at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2008


So… Do you get the distinction or not?
posted by klangklangston at 4:39 PM on December 2, 2008


So… Do you get the distinction or not?

If you can be adult enough to apologize for being so incredibly rude I will answer you.
posted by tkchrist at 4:43 PM on December 2, 2008


I'll take that as a yes.
posted by klangklangston at 4:50 PM on December 2, 2008


Wow. Great threadjack, guys.

Just kiss and get it over with.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:58 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll take that as a yes.

And I take that as a "No, I'm simply incapable of speaking like an adult with out hurling insults."
posted by tkchrist at 5:02 PM on December 2, 2008


I think they've taken it outside. Wanna get a drink? I know a place that makes a fantastic great horned owl.
posted by Evangeline at 5:03 PM on December 2, 2008


Just kiss and get it over with.

Not with that mouth.
posted by tkchrist at 5:04 PM on December 2, 2008


I think they've taken it outside.

If only.
posted by tkchrist at 5:05 PM on December 2, 2008


"Wow. Great threadjack, guys."

Yeah, sorry about that.

I am at least moderately interested in finding out what Astro Zombie does drink, as I tend to be more of a beerhound and eschew cocktails generally as over-priced and over-sweet. Of course, I've also been known to aver that if it's a good gin, you can drink it neat.
posted by klangklangston at 5:07 PM on December 2, 2008


My very first "grown up" cocktail was a gin & tonic. I was sixteen and my boyfriend took me to a nice restaurant, and when the waiter asked us what we wanted he said, "Two gin & tonics", just like that. I couldn't believe it actually worked.

For years after that Tanqueray & tonic was my "go to" drink. I eventually grew tired of it, until I discovered Hendrick's a few months ago. My love was kindled anew. Just recently I bought a bottle of Tanqueray 10, and I think it may be even better.
posted by Evangeline at 5:19 PM on December 2, 2008


So what? So they CAN discriminate but "regular" restaurant can't? So if my favorite Tuscan place that specializes in Wild Boar decides that serving wild boar is an ideological stand in order to preserve wild boar habitat, er, something.

I'm starting to lose your ultimate point, here. At first I thought you were trying to say that it's rude to ask for vegetarian options in a restaurant that doesn't already provide them. Your analog to this seemed to be to sarcastically say that you like asking for meat in a vegetarian restaurant. Then someone pointed out that eating meat is most often not as ideologically motivated as NOT eating meat is, and your response was to say something about vegetarian restaurants discriminating, which seems counter to your original point. what are you getting at, here?

the topic at hand, (now at least) I thought was "is it okay to ask for vegetarian options at a restaurant that doesn't already provide them." your stance seemed to be "no. it is an insult to a restaurant that considers its ingredients vital to its menu, and you wouldn't do the same in a vegetarian place." (please correct me if I'm misunderstanding you.) What strikes me as immediately lopsided about this idea is that meat eaters, although I suppose there could be extreme exceptions to this rule, are almost universally people who will still eat fruits and/or vegetables and/or starches. Telling them that you only serve vegetarian or vegan fare still leaves the entire menu open to them to order from. While it is clearly a regular restaurant's prerogative to decline substitutions for vegetarians and vegans, it seems to me that it would be acceptable for a vegetarian or vegan to at least ASK since otherwise the entirety of the menu is unavailable to them. further, the reticence to menu adjustments you're describing from the restaurants you work with (while doubtlessly true for at least some of them) seems to be overstated. No doubt you work with extremely high class establishments, and you're more likely to find such attitudes in high class places than elsewhere, I find it hard to believe that so many of them would honestly take offense to someone trying to work out a compromise between their lifestyle and the restaurant's offerings.
posted by shmegegge at 5:25 PM on December 2, 2008


What revived my love of the g&t (crushed after a girlfriend adopted it as her drink, then more crushed when we broke up) was finding Hansen's Tonic. Which makes it more of a home drink, since it's rare that you can get that out at bars. But it did bring Spacekitty around to finally liking g&ts.

Aside from that, I don't really have a regular mixed drink. I like Manhattans when I can get 'em made with rye, but that seems to be a rarity. Mostly, I just drink Scotch for my liquor.
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on December 2, 2008


The Mint Julep of Old Virginia.
The New York Times, June 20, 1909.
"Virginia may be dry in spots, but this is not one of them," said the old-fashioned Virginia host, sniffing the mint he had just brought in from his garden.

"Sit there and I'll show you how to make a genuine old time Virginia mint julep, like father used to make.

"First, you see, I pound my ice. I always steal one of my wife's best dinner napkins to pound it in. It gives it a flavor that beats this shaving concern they use for ice nowadays.

"Well, sir, having pounded your ice, fill a tall thin glass full of it and put it into the refrigerator. What for? I'll show you later. Now, in another glass I mix my whisky—smell the bouquet of that, sir. Fine, isn't it? My mint which I crush—yes, sir, crush is the word I used—and a little sugar. Water? What do you want with water in a mint julep? This is the old-fashioned way I'm showing you.

"Now, then, I pour the mixture into the tall glass; it melts the ice a little, you see; that's all the water you need. Then I fill it up with more ice, dash it with the best old French brandy, trim it with a little sheaf of mint on the side—like the what-you-may-call-'ems on the new hats, insert one strawberry or a cherry to give it color—and taste that, sir. Isn't that the nectar of the gods? A straw? Upon my word! Do you think you are at a soda fountain? What do you want with a straw when you can bury your nose in mint like that? Fragrance and flavor, that's what.

"How do I get the frost on the glass? Well, partly by chilling it in the ice box and partly by pouring into the chilled glass the warm mixture. I thought you would say it was the best you ever had. Try another for old time's sake."
posted by ryanrs at 5:27 PM on December 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


also, as a head butty type who has butted heads with the both of you fellow head butty types, damn you guys are butting heads pretty hard over here.
posted by shmegegge at 5:27 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ryanrs, that article was written in 1909, what's your point?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:43 PM on December 2, 2008


I think he just really likes his mint juleps.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:48 PM on December 2, 2008


burnmp3s: "And you know what I mean by filtered - they didn't have too much wheat, which disagrees with my stomach.

I could just be an idiot, but I've never heard of filtered meaning that for beer. Filtered beer normally refers to beer that doesn't contain leftover yeast.
"

The only unfiltered beer most people are familiar with is hefeweizen, and the only wheat beer most people are familiar with is hefeweizen. Hefe = yeast , weizen = wheat. Easy mistake to think that the cloudiness is the wheat rather than the yeast.
posted by team lowkey at 5:52 PM on December 2, 2008


At first I thought you were trying to say that it's rude to ask for vegetarian options in a restaurant that doesn't already provide them. Your analog to this seemed to be to sarcastically say that you like asking for meat in a vegetarian restaurant. Then someone pointed out that eating meat is most often not as ideologically motivated as NOT eating meat is, and your response was to say something about vegetarian restaurants discriminating, which seems counter to your original point. what are you getting at, here?

I never said it's rude to ask for vegetarian options. I said it's rude to ask for things clearly not on the menu. Which Klangs first statement: Seemed to imply creating an entirely new vegetarian item. He only later clarified. I stopped reading his replies to people becuase he was being so insulting and I missed it. Which I would have clarified myself.

If there are no vegetarian options on the menu, it's fine to ask if they have options already formulated not on the menu.

But not to make them up out of whole cloth? Like "Can I have the Wild Boar Risotto without the Boar but with Portabello" or something of that nature. I mean who is the chef here?

And also to claim a restaurant is inferior as a service provider (or the chefs are inferior becuase they won't meet a "challenge") for not catering to every restriction is ignorant and not taking into account a whole host of other considerations. Which I think most of us agree about. It's funny the most successful restaurants I know are precisely this protective of their integrity.

As to asking for meat at a veggie establishment being ass-holish. You BET it is. Which was my point. Why should one then feel slighted if there isn't a veggie option present and assume the establishment is not meeting a quality standard as a result? Ones personal preferences may not be relevant to that restaurants cuisine or culture. I'd say the onus is you to do the research before you get there.

Restaurants should be allowed to discriminate about the type of food they serve. Some stay in business solely on that fact. Fine Cuisine is often "ideological" (for lack of a better word) in many ways.
posted by tkchrist at 5:58 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now you know how to make a mint julep, should you ever be called upon to produce one. It's remarkable you haven't yet had the opportunity, considering you tend bar in Virginia.

Note: I believe the addition of brandy is no longer common, if it ever was. Also, some may disagree with crushing the mint, preferring a more gentle treatment.
posted by ryanrs at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2008


Hey, guys! What are you guys talking about?
posted by dirigibleman at 6:01 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't want to get into the whole ordering things not on the menu debate, but as a vegan, I do not dine and give my money to restaurants that do not make an effort to have vegetarian and vegan options.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:01 PM on December 2, 2008


Ryanrs, I sincerely hope someone does ask for that damn drink since it's been such a hot debate, but sadly, I don't think it's gonna happen. But if it does, I'm writing you a mefimail. Earlier, I really was trying to help you out. You say that no one ever gets it right so I think your best option is to just order it by ingredient which isn't weird or strange to do.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:04 PM on December 2, 2008


But as a vegan, I do not dine and give my money to restaurants that do not make an effort to have vegetarian and vegan options.

Nor should you.

However they not having said options is no reflection as to their general quality.
posted by tkchrist at 6:06 PM on December 2, 2008


However they not having said options is no reflection as to their general quality.

Of course it isn't.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:13 PM on December 2, 2008


Absolutely the mint should be crushed in a mint julep. Bruising the leaves brings the mint flavor to the front of the drink. It also makes the drink bitter, thus the sugar. I guess it's theoretically possible to make a mint julep without crushing the leaves, but then you'd end up with a glass of cold bourbon with a mint garnish, or a glass of sickly sweet bourbon-flavored water. YMMV.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:23 PM on December 2, 2008


Mary, what sort of place do you work at? You're a lot less likely to be asked for a mint julep at, say, a brewery than at a sports bar.
posted by ryanrs at 6:28 PM on December 2, 2008


No doubt you work with extremely high class establishments, and you're more likely to find such attitudes in high class places than elsewhere, I find it hard to believe that so many of them would honestly take offense to someone trying to work out a compromise between their lifestyle and the restaurant's offerings.

Almost all the restaurants that are our clients are high end. Many of them offer up what they view as "authentic cuisine."

For example the Tuscan restaurant I mentioned prepares traditional rustic Tuscan country cuisine. They make BANK and are highly rated. And to follow the integrity of the cooking tradition in many cases, depending on the season (a very important consideration), most of the menu might be meat or fish based. There certainly could be no vegan options (Most of the sauce stocks will be derived from meats or dairy. That is not to say there aren't vegetarian options. Usually there are one or two dishes that come fairly close. Though I bet there is meat stock in there. However I know they will not do substitutions on certain dishes. If the integrity of the dish is not effected they will. But not doing so is certainly no reflection on their quality and expertise. In fact many gourmet critics and magazines seem to be very pleased.

Now anybody spending five minutes researching the restaurant will see they have meat or fish in nearly every dish and it's true to the culture. The fact is the overwhelming majority of people go there are knowing and wanting this. Why should they compromise on what is an immensely successful and popular formula by adding something because a minority of people want it? Why should they make more work for themselves if they don't have to? Why shouldn't they continue to work from their strengths.
posted by tkchrist at 6:28 PM on December 2, 2008


I don't work at a brewery. I work at a bar with liquor and a very extensive beer list (close to 300 beers) but I've worked in other places too. I have a friend who owns a bar and he's been bartending for over 20 years and he says he's never made one in his life.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:33 PM on December 2, 2008


Absolutely the mint should be crushed in a mint julep.

I agree with you, but not everyone does. A century ago, an editorial on the beverage in The New York Times prompted the following letters to the editor.
July 18, 1911.
Isn't there a mistake in your editorial article concerning the julep? I was always taught it should contain only whisky—good Bourbon—as the liquid addition, and that it should be slowly poured in over the mint and ice without bruising or crushing the mint with a spoon, or in any other way. But brandy—never. VINIAUS.

July 24, 1911.
Viniaus is right about the mint julep. In the first place, none but a barbarian or a New York bartender, which is almost the same thing, would bruise mint with a spoon, ice, lump sugar masher, or anything else in making a julep. A lump of sugar, a spoonful of water to soften it, some ice, then the mint, and atop of that the whisky slowly poured—trickled, almost. But corn, straight corn liquor rather than Bourbon, which is usually 80 percent corn mash. Brandy? Well, he who would brandy a mint julep is the sort who would bruise the mint. MIDDLE TENNESSEE.
posted by ryanrs at 6:50 PM on December 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think that a bartender should know and/or not be indignant at the request of a mint julep if the bar is of the relatively nice variety, perhaps such that they are going to be doing things like chilling glasses, keeping fresh mint around, etc. A mint julep absolutely needs fresh mint, so you should pretty easily be able to tell if a place is the kind of place that keeps fresh mint around or not. I don't think that most dive beer bars even in Virginia are necessarily going to be jazzed about making one. I would submit that a Bartender should know how to make one, but a lot of "Bartenders" are bartenders who work at a place that doesn't do that sort of thing.

I think that the moral of all this discussion is that you have to size up the establishment in question, especially if you're then when it's busy, before jumping in and expecting to get a bartender or waitstaff whirling away mixing or preparing things that they don't usually do or have on the menu, or to expect them to know how to do a mint julep. In some places, that's completely acceptable. In others, even though they look a bit like the ones where it's acceptable, it's completely unacceptable. And you can figure that out by observing a little and feeling out the bartender or waitstaff as to what kind of place it is.

As a mojito drinker and a guy who likes places where you can get something a bit custom and the chef is going to enjoy doing it, I've gotten used to this practice of feeling out places like this. This willingness to accommodate the whims of diners/drinkers is something that many, but not all, good restaurants do. It is something that the best restaurants will often do. You can absolutely go into Michelin three star restaurants and make reasonable requests (I would submit that an allergy to tomatoes is reasonable but a dislike of them is not). I consider it a mark of a good restaurant (even a regular old place) to be cool and accommodating about it. I think that klangklangston is saying that he likes that practice, not that any place which doesn't do it is a bad place. I also don't think that he was implying that he does this everywhere, just in places where it's appropriate. I agree with both points, although I think that the point could have been made in a nicer way.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 7:07 PM on December 2, 2008


Oh man.. now I have a jones for gin & tonic, and it's another six months until summer.

: (
posted by oddman at 7:35 PM on December 2, 2008


Saw a guy at the Del order a nuclear rainbow. Had no idea wtf it was. Watched the bartender lay down one layer of booze after another on top of one another so they were floating. Coolest drink I'd ever seen. So I asked the guy (who was apparently a very VIP) why they call it a nuclear rainbow. He told me it was because (direct quote here) no one want to be the faggot who orders a pussy cafe. (Again - not my choice of words).
Well obviously he misunderstood the question.

So I asked the bartender what the deal was with the drink and he read me the riot act about how I better not ever order one.

Meanwhile I'm still trying to figure out how the hell the drink is made and I'm trying to relay this information to my buddies without pointing too obviously at Mr.VIP.

Five minutes later I was in an argument about thermoclines and how the bottom is the same density all the way down and how such a liquid situation was therefore impossible.

So we come over to the bartender who just demanded I never order one...and I order one.

And we all gawk at him and oooh and ahhh as he's, grudgingly, making it and we all tipped him $20 (there were eight of us). So he was moderately happy about that, albeit irritated at having to deal with us savages. We pretty much just sat there in disbelief and sang his praises thereafter.

Although now I understand it's not that hard to make, just sort of a gimmick. Which explains a lot about the bartender's attitude (and mr. vip, really).
posted by Smedleyman at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Seemed to imply creating an entirely new vegetarian item.

No, it didn't. You read it that way, inferring incorrectly, because you were trying to make a simple argument against something I didn't say.

He only later clarified. I stopped reading his replies to people becuase he was being so insulting and I missed it. Which I would have clarified myself.

Oh, boo-hoo, you delicate desert bloom. You misread it, said something stupid, and then threw a hissy fit because I wouldn't rub salve on your tender feelings. If you don't want to be called stupid, don't say stupid things. And don't act like a goddamned baby when you're told as such.

"If there are no vegetarian options on the menu, it's fine to ask if they have options already formulated not on the menu.

I don't even go this far, though thank you for realizing that OMG there's a reasonable way to handle this in a restaurant and that not all vegetarians and vegans are caterwauling enfants terrible.

But not to make them up out of whole cloth? Like "Can I have the Wild Boar Risotto without the Boar but with Portabello" or something of that nature. I mean who is the chef here?

See, and then you go back to the stupid. In both instances I mentioned, the new dishes were VOLUNTEERED by the restaurant.

But of course, you say, there's nothing wrong with that. So what the hell is your problem? My rudeness? That I have not been sufficiently patient in explaining how you're being wrong and insulting?

And also to claim a restaurant is inferior as a service provider (or the chefs are inferior becuase they won't meet a "challenge") for not catering to every restriction is ignorant and not taking into account a whole host of other considerations. Which I think most of us agree about. It's funny the most successful restaurants I know are precisely this protective of their integrity."

Again, a straw man. What I said was that GREAT service, which, as you may not be familiar with English, means "better than good, which is itself better than standard or average," is to greet this as a challenge. However, good service is simply not treating a question about vegetarian options as an affront. That you continue to misrepresent my position, stupidly, is galling, especially since I have spelled it out again and again. By this point, my rudeness can no longer be your excuse for your moronic assertions.

"For example the Tuscan restaurant I mentioned prepares traditional rustic Tuscan country cuisine. They make BANK and are highly rated.

The original restaurant I mentioned serves rustic Tuscan food in Tuscany. In season, with local ingredients. I can't speak to vegan food, as I didn't ask for any, but given their attitude, I don't doubt that they would have made something fantastic had we been vegan. Again, this was GREAT service. But if the argument, which I was replying to above, was that great service should be expected at high-end restaurants, you seem to be arguing against that.
posted by klangklangston at 8:17 PM on December 2, 2008


Gentlemen, I suggest pistols at dawn, and perhaps a mint julep after.
posted by ryanrs at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's the thing that sucks about vegans, right there. In their "bars" you can't get a decent Great Horned Owl.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:09 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Who's talking about obligating? Don't be stupid. Excellent service is to serve your guest. Even if there's no way to do that (which is rarely the case), the method of communicating that is generally an excellent example of how good the service is.

Don't be a belligerent jackass - I was responding to what Pope Guilty's comment to Telf that "your restaurant could contain at least one vegetarian/vegan item and you could skip the condescending bullshit lies about how top-quality cuisine requires you to use particular products."

I don't argue your point about communication, but that wasn't what I was saying at all, so I don't know why you even brought that up. I agree with you that Keith's sandwich experience was a shitty one - no pun intended, I have had weird bouts of something like lactose intolerance myself and it's no damn fun at all - and that the cook was a total asshole about it. But if Keith had been told "Sorry, no substitutions, no leave outs," when he ordered, that's the business' business, and that's what I'm arguing. It may not seem fair, logical, or profitable, but that's the restaurant's choice to make.

I'm not surprised you've had bad experiences with chain restaurants. The people who work in such places despise the patrons who think they're too good to eat there far more than the penny pinching ladies, screaming kids, and pushy twits combined and know not to waste their time and energy on people who think their shit doesn't stink.

True amusing story:
Patron: I'll have a slice of apple pie.
Server: Okay, would you like that a la mode?
Patron: No, I don't eat ice cream... do you have whipped topping?
Server: We do, but we also have whipped cream-
Patron: I won't eat that. I'm vegan.
Server: Okay, so you want whipped topping?
Patron: Uh, yeah?
[Time passes]
Handsome manager working the till: So, how was everything today?
Patron: Ugh, I don't expect to pay for my apple pie, it tasted awful.

No shit pally, you basically put the same stuff they spray crashed airplanes with on it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Saw a guy at the Del order a nuclear rainbow. Had no idea wtf it was.

From the sounds of it, it's something that has a half-life of about a minute before it transmutes into a technicolour yawn.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:45 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


MeTa
posted by tkchrist at 10:46 PM on December 2, 2008


White Russians Arise, This Time at a Bowling Alley:
Several people were dressed in character, including four men who showed up as white Russians: white painter pants, white T-shirts, brown fuzzy hats. Each drank their namesake, except one guy, who nursed a bottle of Miller Lite. “I’m lactose intolerant,” he said.
posted by pracowity at 11:17 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wasn't going to do this.

I watched all 12 videos, applauded at the end of #9, but came away thinking "That bartender is sort of mean."

Scrolled right past Astro Zombie's quiet defense of a well-crafted cocktail, nodded, favorited, kept reading.

And a mint julep? I've never had anyone ever ask for that.

Yes, of course not; that's because your customers who might be interested know that you wouldn't know how to make one. But I kept on going. Ngggh. Will. Not. Post.

Then, this:

No, asshole, what you just did was take money out of my pocket, because I couldn't get a round of beers and Cuervo shots out to my regulars down at the end there, or I didn't have time to sell that couple in booth 6 on the nice bottle of Chilean red

Yep. This is why I make my own cocktails at home, and don't go into a bar, much, to have them made for me. You see, a good cocktail is like a little droplet of religion. I don't want a miserable shift-worker, a broken relic of what used to be a human being, so corrupted by money-lust, so myopic with class rage that he can't see over the bar to recognize a fellow traveler on this path of travail and torment.

I want a craftsman who takes pride in his business, a professional who is proud to be able to do something others can't do. I've met a few bartenders like that. They're out there. They're the 1% nation. They can do magic, when they're inspired and the bar's not too busy, and they do it for the joy of it and share it with me. That's a good time.

Big tits and loud lipstick, big hairy forearms covered in nautical tattooes, attitude like a 19th century Brooklyn dockworker - these things don't make a bartender. They make a FAKE bartender. All of you bartenders venting in this thread? You've spent so long serving your drinks to false people that you have become false. And your customers probably are all false people, too, because real people like me know better than to walk into your bar and try to get a decent drink.

You are FAKE, you jackasses. If you can't even take pride in the way you make a drink behind your bar, what do you really have in life? Think about it. You've got nothing.

Nothing at all.

So you guys, you fake fucking bartenders with your fake fucking lives, keep speedpouring your fake drinks for fake people, take home your paper fucking money, vent your fake fucking rage on this fake fucking website.

I'll be sitting here at home with my perfect Manhattan - just like someone ordered me to do - dreaming about a day when I could walk into a real bar, talk to real people, and pay for a real drink with real specie of the realm, maybe a silver dollar, something that would ring when I dropped it onto the zinc.

And I won't be worrying about you Miss Thing bartenders and your fake goddamn swill drinks one bit.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:59 PM on December 2, 2008 [55 favorites]


ikkyu2, your above comment is itself like a delicious cocktail, chill, flavorful and strong. But... quiet? AZ quiet? *picks a fruit fly off tongue*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:31 AM on December 3, 2008


I am at least moderately interested in finding out what Astro Zombie does drink, as I tend to be more of a beerhound and eschew cocktails generally as over-priced and over-sweet.

Depends on where I drink. If I know the joint and the bartender, depending on my mood, I'll get a martini -- a drink I am especially particular about, because it is a connoisseur drink in a non-snooty sense of the word. Changing the gin changes the drink. Changing the vermouth changes the drink. Changing the garnish changes the drink. Adding orange bitters, which I prefer, changes the drink. Adding vermouth or taking it away changes the drink. And so it's a great drink to play around with, trying different mixes. Sometimes I like it with Raj gin, sometimes with Plymouth, sometimes I'll try a gin I haven't had before.

In places I trust, I also like the older, savory drinks. Manhattans. Sazeracs. Or, if the bartender knows how to make it and I'm in the mood for something sweet, the Ramos Gin Fizz or the classic Mai Tai.

I know a few Mexican places in town that make superb Margaritas, made with fresh lime juice and top shelf tequila (I have been favoring Tres Generaciones lately). At Irish places, I'll have a glass of whiskey (red breast, often, black bush sometimes, or I'll just see what's on the menu and try something new). Chase it with an beer from the British Isles, depending on what they have on the menu. Harp, if it's a limited menu.

If I don't know the joint and it seems upscale, I'll ask to see a cocktail menu and order from that. If it's downscale, I'll have straight liquor. It's awfully hard to mess up a simple highball, too.

Also, I have my own drink, if the place has the ingredients. It's half B&B, half top shelf bourbon, a dash of bitters and a wedge of orange. I've never had a bartender get confused about the drink or mess it up. It's called the McQueen, and every one I have introduced the drink to has become an alcoholic as a result.

I am also a vegetarian by the way. I tend to eat a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, which I enjoy anyway.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:32 AM on December 3, 2008 [12 favorites]


(I would submit that an allergy to tomatoes is reasonable but a dislike of them is not).

Which is why if you don't like something, you just tell your waiter you're allergic. They're not going to subpeona your medical records.

(And if you ARE allergic, definitely mention it. I've had friends with allergies simply order something "without x" only to find x on it. I know when I was a waitron, I made special notes in BIG BOLD LETTERS once the word "allergy" was mentioned, but not necessarily if something was just ordered "without blah" - then again, I don't want blah on my food either.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:31 AM on December 3, 2008


Which is why if you don't like something, you just tell your waiter you're allergic.

If you're going to be a liar can't you at least make the lies worth something?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:40 AM on December 3, 2008


Dear diary,

Busy night tonight. Over 400 comments. The servers were overworked coming up with comments in response to other comments. It's no wonder the bartender is an asshole, given how many people give a shit about what an asshole he is.

I think the thread is closing down now. The asshole bartender is turning off the lights and the commenters are leaving.

We're stacking the chairs and putting away the snarks. Gotta count the tips.

But it's been fun. Another night at the bar. Better than a real job!

The bartender is an asshole. The piano has been drinking.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:49 AM on December 3, 2008


It's half B&B, half top shelf bourbon, a dash of bitters and a wedge of orange. I've never had a bartender get confused about the drink or mess it up. It's called the McQueen, and every one I have introduced the drink to has become an alcoholic as a result.

This sounds fantastic.
posted by Kwine at 7:13 AM on December 3, 2008


Which is why if you don't like something, you just tell your waiter you're allergic. They're not going to subpoena your medical records.

Please don't do this. People who claim to be allergic to things they're not allergic to make restaurants cynical about people who say they have allergies, and they get careless about allergies.


That can be bad for the people with legitimate allergies who go into a restaurant and have their allergies ignored/dismissed because the last twenty people who claimed to have allergies had no such thing.
posted by winna at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Reading up on the Sazerac, it sounds pretty delicious. Now I just have to whale on my local until they get rye back (for a long time, it was what endeared me to the bar, but it was apparently only stocked because it was the favorite drink of the manager's now ex, which means that they no longer have it, and the bartenders who have started since the relationship was ended aver that they never had it).

Or I have to find some place that sells Peychaud bitters around here, as I only have Angostura at home and I've never seen 'em on the shelf. I even went looking all over in Louisiana and got only blank stares (though I didn't look much in New Orleans—I assumed they'd be available anywhere and I'd be able to pick 'em up on the way out without any trouble!).
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2008


Which is why if you don't like something, you just tell your waiter you're allergic.

PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. It does a real disservice to people with legitimate food allergies. It contributes to restaurants taking allergy claims less seriously, to people with can lead to life-threatening incidents.

On preview, what winna said.
posted by dersins at 10:31 AM on December 3, 2008


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by theora55 at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2008


what's the difference between all the jobs you mentioned and the service industry? Service industry get paid shit.

Okay, finally popping in. Thought I'd be able to keep my mouth shut, but I guess not.

Yeah, you know, people in the service industry often do make a lot less than people with a normal 9-5. But you know what? This is not always the case. I really have only one chip on my shoulder when it comes to people in the service industry, and it is this: no matter what, they always assume they are making less money than you. There were plenty of years where working as a server (or especially as a bartender) would have meant a serious wage increase.

Now, it's possible that since I was in a college town that might account for the higher salary (I don't think so, though, since most students were notoriously bad tippers). But I think overall if they are working in a fairly busy restaurant where they can make at least 15% in tips, then they might just be making about as much as a lot of office workers on the low end. I mean, okay. They're making around $2 an hour. But if they take in even just $8/hour in tips (not unreasonable in a relatively busy place, and as a bartender that probably translates to well under 20 drinks) then they're making $10/hour which, surprise! is the going salary for a lot more office jobs than you'd think. Bus drivers probably make less. A lot of web editors get paid $10/hour.

What do I think is really going on? Service industry is based around tips. If I do an hour's worth of work, I get paid for it. I don't have to put any thought into how much money I'm going to make, or how I should interact with the person giving me the money in order to get the full amount. That's why I really don't like the idea of tipping as a source of income. Effectively waiters should be making $x/hour in order to survive/be happy. They make around $2 something, and $(x-2) has to come from tips. This effectively raises the cost of the meal for those willing to tip. What if we simply put those costs directly into the menu? Well, then food would cost %n more, around exactly the amount that the tip would have been. Instead, the food is cheaper and servers rely on the generosity of patrons. So effectively, polite and/or generous patrons are subsidizing demanding and/or cheap patrons. The cheap bastards are an economic and emotional drain on servers, and I (and other polite and appropriately-tipping suckers) have to deal with the results.

Also, in regards to video #11. Do you know why I ask for change? So I can leave my server and/or bartender a nice generous tip in cash instead of putting it on a credit card. I've heard a lot of servers like getting cash tips so that they can underreport the overall tip to the IRS and pocket the difference. Thus, you know, perpetuating the myth that they are earning diddlysquat.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:07 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Weirdly, Sazerac Rye makes a pretty unremarkable sazerac; Old Overholt is surprisingly good for being half as expensive. And some bartenders make it with absinthe, because that's what it originally called for, and I have found that this tastes wrong -- perhaps because modern absinthes are meant to be drink with water, and not really designed as a cocktail ingredient. I'd go with Herbsaint, which is what New Orleans bars use. Peychaud's is a must, though; after all, he invented the cocktail.

It's an easy drink to do wrong. Make a few at home following the recipe exactly (this is the best resource for that) so you know what it tastes like.

I worked at a nightclub in the French Quarter and sat in when the bar manager interviewed a potential bartender. His first question: "How would you make a sazerac."

The guy didn't know. The interview was over.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2008


There there, boys. You all have big dicks. All better now?
posted by deborah at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2008


well, i can't speak for anyone else, but I certainly feel better.
posted by shmegegge at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2008


Stop feeling that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:43 PM on December 3, 2008


sorry about that. I would say things got out of hand, but... well...
posted by shmegegge at 1:46 PM on December 3, 2008


I've never known a bartender that didn't pull down at least 40k a year, most of it unreported. I made serious bank as a bartender. Once I started a "real career", it took me at least 5 years of considerable raises, and becoming an hourly contractor before I made the same amount of take home dollars.

I loved being a bartender. And if there was a real future in doing it, I probably would have stayed being a bartender, degrees be damned. I got more real philosophy standing behind a big ol chunk of mahogany than I ever did in my ivory towers.

But, while patrons may value a good bartender, management generally doesn't. You're just another employee, easily replaced by the thousands of college kids willing to do the job. I thought about opening a bar...the kind of bar where I'd want to hang out...and realized that it's not possible to have that kind of place in today's nanny state environment. And the sheer amount of bribes, at least in my area, to get a liquor license...woof.

Point being; not all bartenders are assholes like the one in these clips. Your bartender doesn't hate you. (Your stripper still hates you.) Some of us generally liked what we did. The annoying customers provided smoke break chatter and character studies for fiction, film and music.

Also, I prefer my sazerac made with simple syrup, not sugar...too grainy, cognac and angostura. Nuclear Rainbows are easy to make, but possibly the most disgusting drink ever. Ok, maybe not *the* worst, but it's really high on the list of stupid bar trick drinks and disgusting concoctions with cute names. Mint for a julep should be lightly bruised with a small amount of sugar, using a pestle. Grapefruit juice and any alcohol is an affront before Bacchus and should not be tolerated.
posted by dejah420 at 2:05 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I actually have Sazerac rye at home right now, having deviated from my regular Jim Beam Rye (which is OK, but not anything to look forward to). I've found it surprisingly hard to find Old Overholt out here, despite the fact that it was sold in supermarket jugs back in Michigan.

When I was in Vancouver, I amused the citizenry there by being excited to find that their cheap rye, Alberta Rye, was really good. I think it was the same reaction that people around here would give to someone who got really into Dos Dedos tequila (despite the fact that Dos Dedos is more to my liking than, say, Cuervo).

So now it's time to look for the proper bitters. I'm all atremble at finding a new drink that I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love. (Though I also just found a Scotch bar around here, and am slowly saving the money to make it a habit.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on December 3, 2008


"Grapefruit juice and any alcohol is an affront before Bacchus and should not be tolerated."

A couple of weekends ago, I ended up sitting around an apartment, drinking grapefruit juice and triple sec. If there'd been a third flavor to maybe add a little counterpoint to the sweetness, it would have been pretty good.
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on December 3, 2008


Nuclear Rainbows are easy to make, but possibly the most disgusting drink ever. Ok, maybe not *the* worst, but it's really high on the list of stupid bar trick drinks and disgusting concoctions with cute names.

I have this worst drink. My friend called it "Foof."

Take 1 bottle high proof alcohol. Take an assortment of leaves, twigs, and sundry other foliage from a forest. Place the latter in the former and let sit several months. Pass around in a circle, swigging from the bottle.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:21 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


It does a real disservice to people with legitimate food allergies.

Why? Any waiter who doesn't take it seriously that you have an allergy is a douche. So's any waiter who won't take you seriously for saying "I don't want nutmeg on my parsnips." I'm saying this as someone who's worked in food service. If a customer told me that they were allergic to something, I took their word for it. Every. Single. Time.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:29 PM on December 3, 2008


Velvet Tango Room
posted by sciurus at 3:29 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


What does the guy in number seven say to the bartender? I've listened to it three times and between his accent, the background music and the dodgy sound quality I just can't pick it out.

I know it's going to be an anticlimax, but it's bugging me.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:36 PM on December 3, 2008


A refreshing drink, which we call the Vermont Street, since we invented it:

1 part grapefruit juice
2-3 parts club soda (we use lime Calistoga, usually)
splash of Campari

Serve in a tall glass over ice. For extra yay, add vodka.
posted by rtha at 3:39 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Sarah Palin's favorite drink is? And I wonder what bartenders think of her.
posted by josher71 at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2008


Still man, I’d press charges and bring a civil suit if someone did that to me (granted - if I found out about it).


You may find the saga of the shit-cream amusing.

Oh, wait, Ubu got there first. I bet the staff feel clever after that one.

I sympathize with the bartender who has to put up with the inebriated public.

This is like sympathising with a doctor having to deal with sick people.

Or your restaurant could contain at least one vegetarian/vegan item and you could skip the condescending bullshit lies about how top-quality cuisine requires you to use particular products.

I can't think of any good restaurant I've visited in the last ten years that doesn't have at least a set of vegetarian options, and usually a couple. Including a high-end steakhouse, which had some good three-cheese pastas and shit like that.

In this day and age I would pretty much make "being able to deal with vegetarians well" part of the critera for restaurants in the English-speaking world; it's a pretty mainstream diet these days.

There there, boys. You all have big dicks. All better now?

It's not worth having a big dick unless it's bigger.
posted by rodgerd at 4:22 PM on December 3, 2008


Big tits and loud lipstick, big hairy forearms covered in nautical tattooes, attitude like a 19th century Brooklyn dockworker - these things don't make a bartender.

Sorry, ikkyu2, I'm obviously part of the problem. I am a total sucker for a bartenders with loud lipstick, hairy arms with nautical tattooes, and a dockworker attitude. They're harder to find than you'd think, even in the SF Bay Area. In fact, please MeMail me if you know of a good one.

Big tits I can take or leave.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:21 PM on December 3, 2008


I know the discussion has sort of moved on, but I wanted to add something about the klangklangston/tkchrist exchange:

I think excellent service, in any field, is often tied to knowing what your limits are, what you are willing and able to do, and sticking to those things. So for every chef who considers your dietary limitations a "challenge" that provide a chance to display his or her prowess, there's another chef who has learned that he/she cannot efficiently serve all patrons while catering to idiosyncrasies that require cooking things not on the menu.

I'm an attorney, and I used to feel like I needed to try to solve every problem that came through the door. That resulted in lots of horrible situations where I was stuck with things I didn't know how to do, and worse, didn't have time to do effectively because I was so busy with cases in my main area of specialty. I finally learned that it's okay to say, "Sorry, I don't do that type of thing, here's the name of a lawyer who does," and being willing to turn prospective clients away turned out to be a great thing.

The fact that I am turning prospective clients away does not mean I don't provide "GREAT service." It means I have concluded I can't provide GREAT service to my preferred clientele by going "off the menu" of my legal services. The idiosyncratic cases get in the way of providing the service I am best equipped to provide.

I can imagine some attorneys who might take that idiosyncratic case and consider it an opportunity to demonstrate their legal prowess, but their willingness to cater to the client with the idiosyncratic case does not mean they provide great service and the attorney who turns that client away does not provide great service. It means that those attorneys have chosen to provide different kinds of service, neither necessarily better than the other.

One could turn away the things that are "off the menu" and still provide great service --- to the clients you choose to serve.
posted by jayder at 10:19 PM on December 3, 2008


The woman wanted a tea, extra hot. I can't do that. The tea comes from a hot water tap on the coffee machine that delivers water at 201F.

See, that's your problem right there. Your shop doesn't know how to make tea. You make black tea on the rolling boil - that's at 100C - and they taste bad if they aren't. Green teas are made at only about 80C, like coffee. I know someone who has worked in a serious teashop, and she can tell the temperature of water by touching the side of a kettle.

I love coffee. I would marry coffee if it were legal (and not bigamy). But coffee culture in North America has so marginalised tea culture it's not funny. You can't get a decent cup of tea because people are using coffee machines to boil the water, and then sometimes even charging more for the tea than the coffee!
posted by jb at 7:04 AM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


What temperature should I cook this plate of beans at?
posted by electroboy at 7:59 AM on December 4, 2008


There was a post a little while ago that linked to a list of bartender complaints. Or maybe I just found it myself. Whatever the case, one of the complaints was people who ask for a martini and say "make it strong."

Snottily, this bartender responded that a martini is nothing but alcohol, so there is no way to make it stronger.

Now, I understand her complaint, in that I'm sure the customer was just babbling nonsense. But she was wrong. Gin comes in different proofs, including something called Navy Gin, which is a much higher proof than regular gin. Additionally, gin in general has a much higher proof than vermouth -- so the less vermouth, the stronger the drink. So it is possible to make a martini strong, as compared to another martini.

It's one thing to say "I don't think this guy was asking for Navy Gin, I think he was just trying to sound tough, and you shouldn't do that, because you're not going to impress your bartender." Instead, she said "It's impossible!" which, because she was wrong, translated in my head into "I don't know what I am talking about and yet feel comfortable criticizing a customer because he doesn't know what he's talking about."
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:09 AM on December 4, 2008


I've got a specific drink question: A waitress in DC got really indignant when I asked for a whisky sour with Maker's Mark, telling me I was a fool to pay good whisky and then mix it. Until that point, I'd been operating under the assumption that you're always better off avoiding rail (and this is as I sloooowly try to expand my way out of a beercentric rut). Am I wrong? Does it vary drink to drink?
posted by COBRA! at 8:11 AM on December 4, 2008


Generally, a well-made cocktail is better with top shelf liquor. But if they were using some crappy sour mix, instead of homemade and fresh, she's right. Those over-the-counter sour mixes can really ruin a good liquor.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:02 AM on December 4, 2008


@Astro Zombie: Voila
posted by jckll at 9:02 AM on December 4, 2008


Your shop doesn't know how to make tea.

Don't I know it. It was a corporate (not-Starbucks, but in that vein) coffee shop. Our tea sucked.

I drink tea far more than I drink coffee and that tea was abominable. Still, I had no options other than the hot water tap. Nary a kettle in sight and a whole lot of corporate policy dictating that the tea puts the water in the cup or it gets the hose again.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:15 AM on December 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Gin comes in different proofs, including something called Navy Gin, which is a much higher...

Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah. That spock-ass internet nitpicking will get you tossed out of any decent place.
posted by electroboy at 12:52 PM on December 4, 2008


Just for the record, this, of course, is wrong:

> a 7" and a 45 are, in fact, the same thing

Seven inches is the size of the record and 45 RPM is the speed it rotates. There are twelve-inch 45s and there are 33-RPM seven-inch disks.

Obviously, nearly all of the time a 7" and a 45 are the same, but not always.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2008


Uh oh, AmbroseChapel. Watch that spock-ass internet nitpicking or electroboy will toss you out of... uh.. well... I dunno. His parents' basement?
posted by dersins at 3:42 PM on December 4, 2008


Ambrose—I mentioned that upthread, noting that I have 33rpm 7"s and 45 rpm 10"s.
posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2008


Jesus, 444 comments and I only wanted a fucking beer. If I want a cocktail I'll make it at home. I go to the bar for the cask ale on gravity pour.
posted by fixedgear at 3:54 PM on December 4, 2008


Jayder—I understand what you're saying, but the original point wasn't that a place had to provide me with something to eat, but rather HOW they handled the question was a significant clue to their level of service. Presenting it as an issue of "Our chef can't make anything vegetarian that would be up to their standards for food" would be a dubious claim, but still good service. Rolling of eyes or a redirection to the salad when discussing an entrée would be poor service. Telling someone that you didn't handle immigration cases because you were "an American" lawyer would be bad service, just as telling me that there was no vegetarian food on the menu because "we're an American restaurant" was bad service at Applebees.

And what made the service great was that they were going above and beyond what was expected.

I also hope that you can see that legal service is not a direct analog to dining service, for any number of reasons.
posted by klangklangston at 3:59 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


just as telling me that there was no vegetarian food on the menu because "we're an American restaurant" was bad service at Applebees.

You should grant, though, that in Applebeesian, American means Stupid.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:18 PM on December 4, 2008


(Is there a way to make youtube play high quality videos by default?)
posted by oxford blue at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2008


(Same Applebees waitress told me "I know how you feel. I was a vegetarian for a semester in college." But that's what happens when you try to eat in Lansing, Mi., after 10pm. The Taco Bell wasn't even open.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:38 PM on December 4, 2008


In these customer service situations, sometimes the shit really just hits the fan.
posted by lottie at 5:57 PM on December 4, 2008



Uh oh, AmbroseChapel. Watch that spock-ass internet nitpicking or electroboy will toss you out of... uh.. well... I dunno. His parents' basement?


I usually hang out in your parents basement until your dad leaves for work.
posted by electroboy at 7:51 PM on December 4, 2008


The Green Bomb:

Into a 7 oz glass, pour
1 oz vodka
1 oz gin
1 oz white rum
1 oz tequila
1 oz ouzo (optional)
1 oz creme de menthe
Lemonade

Drinking six of these in the space of 45 minutes is inadvisable.
posted by flabdablet at 9:14 PM on December 4, 2008


How is there this much drama surrounding bartenders?

I order the same drink every time, repeat until I get drunk, pay tab, tip well, go home. I barely even talk to my bartender. The worst thing I've ever done is accidentally forget to close my tab out a time or 6 and leave my credit card at the bar.

But I tend to drink at dance clubs not bars.
posted by empath at 11:15 PM on December 4, 2008


What do I think is really going on? Service industry is based around tips

Exactly. I think what's important to keep in mind in the discussion regarding people working in a service job is that the whole dynamic changes when that person depends on tips to live.

I've waited tables at any number of establishments - none of them extremely high end but none of them utter holes either - for a decade of my life. During this decade, my hourly wage was $2.13/hour. This is an hourly wage that you could top just asking for change at the subway station. In order to make at least minimum wage, you'd think you wouldn't have to work very hard - hell, two or three satisfactorily served tables per hour should cover it, right?

But no. Actually, in order to make at least minimum wage you have to excel. Because after you factor in the extra effort you put in to be that silent ghost who appears at the table at precisely the right times and doesn't linger a moment longer, the larger tables and/or tabs, and the particularly generous costumers, you also need to factor in the fact that most people think you're already making minimum wage as your hourly salary. Waiters within a certain mid-strata of restaurants - from the pricey to the cheap - are all making change per hour, but in a higher end establishment people thinking you're hourly wage must well exceed minimum wage; not measure only a fraction of it. And these are the unintentionally cheap - there's still the purposefully cheap, and the occasional flat-out rude.

When both ends of the spectrum even out, doing "a good job" equates minimum wage, after tips. To actually make a decent living at it, you could go for your certification and move up to a higher establishment or, like most people not planning to wait tables for the rest of their lives but are temporarily cornered by life into having to do so, you just take on more hours or try to be the most ingratiating servomatic servomatron you can be and swallow a lot - a LOT - of your pride and dignity.

So working for tips takes a heavy burden on your self-esteem, to be sure, for how much more of the server routine you need to amplify just to keep the rent paid. I say this by way of explanation; not an excuse for inordinate snideness from a waiter/bartender having a bad day. I understand there are people who are stuck in a vicious circle of getting shit tips, feeling bad about it, and taking out their attitude on costumers, thereby perpetuating more bad tips. I've worked with them. But I find it baffling to hear such abusive condensation as this.

I want a craftsman who takes pride in his business, a professional who is proud to be able to do something others can't do. ... You are FAKE, you jackasses. If you can't even take pride in the way you make a drink behind your bar, what do you really have in life? Think about it. You've got nothing.

Nothing at all
.

While we're all thinking, guess what? Not all of us are working at our callings in life. Some of us are working whatever job we were able to find. There is nothing "fake" about working a job you have to work that isn't exactly born from the bosom of your pride and joy. It's called surviving. Your description of how dear to your heart alcohol is was charming and all, but do keep in mind that some of us are just doing the best we can with the situations we've ended up in life. Calling people "fake" for not meeting whatever standard you have for a bartender is silly. That "paper fucking money" pays the bills, and we can't all be wizards of mixology. Have a little decency.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:17 AM on December 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Everyone can take pride in what they do, MarisaSPT, unless it be an evil thing. Bartending is far from evil, at least when it is done right.

I hate really busy, crowded, drinking establishments, people packed shoulder to shoulder, 30 min. wait for a drink - really hate having to go into one of those - and so I'm certainly not the best judge of what makes a bartender meritorious at one of those places. Surviving, almost certainly, as you said.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2008


I'm certainly not the best judge of what makes a bartender meritorious at one of those places. Surviving, almost certainly, as you said.

I go by the very simple gauge of "keep the mudslides coming".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2008


I go by the very simple gauge of "keep the mudslides coming".

A sentiment not shared by my friends in Malibu, California!
posted by ericb at 5:53 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"The only experience I've had with hurricanes was in the airport bar on the way here. I consider myself able to withstand them unaided."

The people in the Mobile Civic Auditorium liked that one.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:03 PM on December 6, 2008


I know you're talking about the Mobile Civic Auditorium, but I prefer to think of it as the Mobile Civic Auditorium.
posted by contraption at 8:20 PM on December 6, 2008


Number 6 is great. I hate being ignored by the bartender and then they expect to get a tip out of me.
posted by jkruse at 1:43 AM on December 7, 2008


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