Top 10 Ways to Piss Off Your Bartender

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Rob Boudon
By Rick Giordano

When I'm not raking in the millions writing for music blogs, I, much like many of my fellow artsy-fartsies and anti-professionals, have to earn my dough in the service industry. Working directly with customers in any job can be a frustrating experience, especially in the bar industry, where customers are often carrying a small solar system of booze in their bellies. Even more difficult is tending to these folks in a loud venue while a band plays 8 feet away. Every bartender wants to get you your drinks quickly and accurately -- working for tips, it's in our best interest to do so -- but the customer is not always right. Sometimes, the customer is a big, goddamn-wrong pain in the ass, in fact. Here are the top 10 ways to get on our bad sides.

See Also:
*Top 15 Things That Annoy the Shit Out of Your Local Sound Guy

10. Speak quietly when talking to me, or order anything overly complicated.
Hey, you see those snappily dressed dudes onstage playing through that giant wall of speakers right there behind you? Well, it's a bit louder than your little mumbly mouth is right now. I want to get you your drinks, but I can read lips about as well as I can understand sign language from a space ape, so you've got to work with me here.
"VOD-KAA . . . TONNNN-ICCC." This I can understand.
"BUUUDD . . . WHYYYY . . . ZZZEEERRR." I'll have that for you in a jiffy, sir!
"A friend of mine had this drink one time called Ozzy Osbourne's Balls, and I want that, but I want it to be purple instead of green because I'm a Virgo [or some dumb shit like that], and instead of a glass, can you serve it in a Willie Nelson bobblehead and fucking blah blah fart . . ."
One Stag coming right up!

9. Get mad if I get to someone else first when you think you are "next."
Do you have a little ticket in your hand that says No. 67, and I just helped ticket 68? No, because this isn't the fucking post office. Contrary to popular belief, bartenders are from the planet Earth, and we and do not have eyes in the back of our heads. Sure, I'm doing the best I can to pay attention to what's in my peripheral vision and get to people in the order they step up to the bar, but considering that I'm grabbing bottles, answering questions, mixing things, exchanging money, telling my bar back we're out all out of Three Olives, DUDE, again and a million other things all at once, you really should be surprised whenever I don't make a mistake.

8. Ask me my name with ill intent.
My name? It's Rick; nice to meet you! You wanna be pals? Oh . . . no, you wanna yell my goddamn name at me to get my attention when I'm busy because you know it will. You clever bastard. Here I am, thinking someone is maybe treating me like a human being for once, but no, they just want something more effective than "hey, bartender!" to yell at me to get their drinks slightly faster. It's that Carrie-covered-in-pig's-blood feeling of deceit that's insulting on such a personal level. The shitty thing that you are angrily shouting at me is my own name? That's just evil, man. Have fun waiting for that drink, chump.

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Francisco Osorio
7. Ask how much everything costs.
"How much are your well drinks?" Totally acceptable. Asking about a specific beer or liquor price is also fine, but the key word there is a specific item. If you'd like to see a drink menu, I'll happily give you one, but I'm not going to hold your hand and wipe your ass and name drink prices because you are cheap and don't know what you want. People this concerned with prices usually tip like shit anyway and aren't worth the time. Go out to your car and huff some nail-polish remover if you need a bargain buzz that bad.

And never ask, "How much are your drinks?"
Do you head over to the ol' Cheesecake Factory and ask how much a meal is? Or go to Guitar Center and ask how much are the guitars? Well, sometimes they're $100; sometimes, they're $5,000; and sometimes, they're those hideous, green, BC Rich guitars they can't even give away. Prices may vary, brainiac.
How much are drinks? You're in luck: It's $10 You-Call-It for Total Dipshits Night every Tuesday here!

6. Touch me, for any reason.
Unless you want your next drink thrown at you, that is. This especially applies to female bartenders. We didn't come to work tonight to get touched by some drunken goon. I don't care if you're just really trying to get my attention, trying to flirt, or throwing a punch because I cut you off. Didn't your mother ever teach you to keep your hands to yourself?

5. Have no idea what you want.
It's always the guy flapping his arms like a big shitty bird that has no idea what he wants when you finally get to him. Yes, sir! What's the emergency? Your goofy haircut is on fire, and you need a cup of water to put it out? Oh, you just need a drink. But you don't even know what the drink is. I'll come back to you in a little while after I help every other customer, then polish every glass and rearrange the fruit tray seven times, making sure you wait long enough to realize that you're a douchebag.


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Quinn Anya
Defacing the bar will not get you your drink faster, FYI.
4. Be in a local band that draws no one, then don't tip. If you're in a touring band and no one is at the show, I don't blame you for not tipping on any free drinks you may get. You're traveling and broke, but you aren't going to pass on free drinks, and I understand you mean no disrespect. But local bands don't have any excuse to stiff the bar staff. You aren't roughing it out on the road. You just came from your house, where you had a shower and good meal, and judging by that sweet Crate Blue Voodoo full stack onstage, you have some kind of employment. Hell, you're likely even an industry schmuck like me. And if you're in a local band that drew absolutely no one to the show, you should tip like crazy because I'm not making a dime off all the people who didn't come see your crappy band. At least the only other audience member, the sound guy, is getting a decent hourly wage. You're just wasting my time, really. But tip me half-decently, and I'll even humor you and say, "Yeah, I don't know where everyone is tonight. Wicked is at the Fox, and it rained three days ago, so that must be it."

3. Ask me to hook you up.
All the booze here costs money. I'm not stealing from the bar just because you asked me to. This also goes for free birthday shots (is that actually a thing anywhere?) and asking for "light ice" to get more booze. You want something? Sorry, gotta pay for it. That's great that it's your birthday or you're offering a fat tip, but I'm not risking my job for you. Also, anyone who says "fat tip" instantly gets crowned King of the Dorks.

2. Ask me if I want to buy a CD from your band.
I don't. It may come as a surprise, but I'm actually trying to make money here, not spend it on some local band's CDR. Do you think I got this job because I'm a huge fan and couldn't wait to see your band? Or maybe I was just stuck behind the bar so I couldn't make it over to the merch table and you're saving me the trip? If I like your band enough to buy a CD, I will ask for one. Also, don't ask me what I thought about your set unless you want an honest opinion, which you don't. Venue bartenders have to sit through anywhere from five to 50 bands' sets per week, depending on where they work. We most likely weren't even paying attention when you played.


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1. Refuse to leave.
The bands are done, the bar is closed, and I want to go home. Hanging around after the show is over doesn't make you look cool or important; it makes you a pain in the ass for me and the rest of the staff here who are trying to clean up. That's great that you want to blow the band, but maybe you could meet them out by the Dumpster? Great! Thanks for coming.

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