I would call the two of them older. But they were probably my age or younger. And aren’t we always kinder to ourselves when we judge others? Otherwise, what would be the point?
“This place is so expensive,” said the woman in the couple loud enough for me to hear. But me hearing was probably the point. We bartenders hear it all the time, “I guess we’ll sit here,” or “We really want a table in the dining room,” as if we bartenders don’t have some pride in what we do, or as if we don’t have feelings, or that we can’t hear.
“They get you on the house cocktails,” said her companion, also loud enough for me to hear.
Just a heads up, going into a restaurant is a voluntary activity. You don’t have to do it.
Psychologists and philosophers have long argued the that how we see the world actually says more about us, then it does about the world. So be careful what you see. And remember that the physics gang would have you also believe that just by observing it, you also irrevocably change it too. But that is a lot to take in.
“I’ll have a Manhattan,” said the man.
“Our house one?” I asked.
“No way,” he said, looking at his date conspiratorially. “I want one with that,” he said pointing.
Pointing at a shelf filled with bottles is the least helpful of all gestures. I would have to sit in exactly your spot, look exactly from your perspective, and also be able gauge what you see, and why. And I think that I established with my very first paragraph that is unlikely to happen.
“This one?” I asked pointing at the bottle I thought he might be pointing at.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
He shook his head, not as a gesture of negativity for me, but as the gesture of “see what I mean” to his date.
Just then another bubblier and more vivacious couple sat down. The kind of people that you like right away. No forced jokes, no trying too hard, no uber seriousness. Bars are supposed to be fun. Barstools aren’t solemn monk’s cells, they are bar stools, lest we forget.
We discussed the wines by the glass list for a second, and the man in that second couple narrowed it down to two different ones.
“Would you like a taste of them?” I asked.
“Sure,” said the man.
“Ahemmm,” guffawed the man in the first couple.
I looked at him, while still waiting on the couple in front of me.
“Ahemmm!” he guffawed even louder.
“Yes?” I asked while still pouring the two tastes. If a bartender can’t multitask, he/she shouldn’t be a bartender.
“We’d like to taste the wine too,” the man said.
“Are you interested in purchasing the wine,” I asked.
“You just want a taste of it?” I asked again, trying to convey a point without having to say it aloud.
Internally of course I was screaming it. Why would I give you a taste of wine if you have no intention of buying any? The whole point of giving tastes is to facilitate a sale. Grocery stores don’t put out samples so you can eat lunch for free, they do it to generate sales. Wineries aren’t in the business of giving wine away. They want you to become familiar with their products so that you buy them. Businesses are businesses, not charities. Many people forget that. Either accidently, or on purpose. Not being in the mood to argue. I just put two small tastes of wine down for that first couple too.
“She would like a taste too,” replied the man with his freshly purloined prize.
“Really?” I asked.
Twenty minutes later I delivered that first couple’s requested bill. Normally I don’t wait around, but I wanted to see this. The man’s eyes literally bugged out of his head like a cartoon character. The whiskey he had chosen was $37. Our house Manhattan was less than half of that. And probably just as good.
He, of course, didn’t tip, but I was pretty sure of that eventuality two minutes in.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
-When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you.
– “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are,” once opined C.S. Lewis.
-The fear of missing out, ironically, often causes people to miss out.
-If your go to behavior is being nice first, and that doesn’t work, you can always shift gears later. It doesn’t really work so well the other way around.