The front door opened letting the air conditioning out, and two of those who wanted that air conditioning, in. The world is just filled with little dichotomies.
“We’ve never been here before,” said the woman in the arrangement.
But then, the bartender already knew that. The fact that they headed up the ramp to the backdoor was a clue, as was the fact that they pulled on the door when it needed to be pushed, and also that they had turned left and not right when they entered the front door. That dichotomous world will give you clues, it’s up to you to see them.
“What’s good here?” asked the woman’s male companion.
“Nothing,” replied the bartender
The man looked at the bartender and the bartender looked at the man. Then they both laughed. Sarcasm is indeed a form of wit; in some cases, it is considered the lowest form. And its humor should be wielded with care. Especially in the restaurant business, where the ordering of a dry martini (essentially a one ingredient drink) can be so filled with pompous bloat that one might think it was Michelangelo’s patron describing how he wanted the Mona Lisa painted.
The couple relaxed after the initial exchange and settled in for an early evening.
“We just moved here,” said the woman after taking the bartenders suggestion on a glass of wine.
“And we just had a baby,” added the man who was now comfortably enjoying the bartender’s whiskey recommendation.
The rest of the early evening passed in much the same fashion. A few jokes, a story, some appetizers, a couple of drinks, and the experience passed from present into past.
In the hospitality industry, sometimes the hospitable part can get lost. We’ve all seen it. The two employees ultra-concerned with their interpersonal conversation while simultaneously ignoring the one customer at the counter. The bartender who keeps insisting that you try “his drink,” even after you’ve said “no thank you” three or four times.
Anthony Bourdain once said, “If anything is good for pounding humility into you permanently, it’s the restaurant business.” Unfortunately, it can and does sometimes have the complete opposite effect. That constant pounding can lead a few to act out in quite unsavory ways once the constraints of polite decorum have been removed. For example, making someone a shift supervisor, a manager, or even a bartender, will sometimes send them over the ego edge.
I remember touching a bartender’s mixing beaker once in a specialty cocktail bar in San Francisco. Once – mind you – just once. I didn’t cause it to move, I just touched it.
“What are you doing?” he had thundered.
“Sorry,” I replied thinking he must be being sarcastic.
He wasn’t. He went on for five minutes about this and about that.
“Do I come into your work and touch your stuff?”
When he did come to my work, he didn’t recognize me. But I recognized him. It wasn’t long before he told me he was a bartender. A fact that I already knew.
“I’m looking for work,” he had said. Which certainly didn’t surprise me.
“Good luck,” I said.
He later volunteered that he had been working in the City. It had started well, but then it just got slower and slower.
Gee, I wonder why?
“We’ll be back,” said that new couple on their way out the door.
Another couple on their way in, held the door open for them as they left.
“We haven’t been by in a while,” said the door holding man.
“Gin martini with olives and onions,” replied the bartender.
“Yes, I’m surprised you remember that,” said the man.
“So am I,” replied the bartender.
“We just don’t get out that much anymore.” continued the man.
“But you are here now,” said the bartender.
“We didn’t want to go anywhere else,” the couple replied together.
The bar business is a transient business, but if you stay in it long enough, and don’t lose sight of that humility, you’ll find that it’s not how many connections you make, but rather the quality of those connections, that really matters.
Leaving me with these thoughts
-Every new person you meet always has the possibility of being the best friend you will ever have.
-“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,” was once said by Oscar Wilde. “But it’s the highest form of intelligence,” is the second part of that quote. Odd that it’s rarely included.
-With great power comes great responsibility. But with a little power you often get very little responsibility too.
-It’s not the drinks that make a bar great. It’s the people. Both those in front of the bar and those behind it.