What happens in a bar, doesn’t stay in a bar

Position two at the bar was bumping continuously into position three. His back was to her and while it didn’t seem malicious, it wasn’t polite either.

“Do you mind?” asked position three after a few bumps.

Position two obviously believed his interaction with her meant something else, because he turned and began attempting to chat her up much to the chagrin of the woman sitting at position one, and ironically, it wasn’t doing much for position three’s chagrin either.

When you invite the vampire in, the vampire becomes your problem as position three was beginning to see.

Bars need ways to identify people without them being aware that they are being identified. Service staff need to communicate things like ID status, intoxication levels and more general things such as attitude and preference. And we need to do that without anyone knowing it. So, we often do that with position numbers.

Recently, I was at a breakfast counter when I overheard the server say to the barista, “Five is being troublesome.”

I looked to my left and noticed the wall and then looked to my right and noticed the entrance to the back kitchen. I counted five spaces from the kitchen opening — no one was there. Five spots from the wall was a different matter. There he was. I knew immediately that the two service people were talking about him, both by position and by behavior.

For some reason, people who go to restaurants often think that their behavior happens in a vacuum, as if no one knows or communicates to each other. It’s strange because the same person who thinks you should intuitively know what they are drinking (which someone else served them 35 minutes ago) somehow fails to understand that their bad behavior has also already spread around the restaurant and sometimes beyond. Nothing that happens in bars actually stays in bars. No matter what anyone says. In the tiny fishbowl that is the local restaurant community, everybody knows the “No Mayo Woman.” They are also keenly aware of “Mr. 10%” and “Ms. Hot Water,” too. Word gets around.

People often ask me if bartenders judge the drink orders of their guests. That is really the last judgment we make. While it might be the most important thing to you, it is the least important thing to us.

Meanwhile, my own position two was now trying to sell position three on the fact that he was a high-end salesperson of some sort.

Recently, I read a meme that read: “Have you ever found yourself in an awkward position by being polite that you could have avoided by being rude?” Position three was probably thinking that.

Meanwhile position one was getting more and more annoyed.

“I am a great judge of people,” said the salesman at position two. “I can read them like a book.”

Only he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, because they are not the same thing.

Once I was coming on to the night shift and the day bartender proceeded to point at various customers and give his opinions of them — not kindly, mind you. He thought he knew people, too.

“That guy’s a jerk, that woman is a pain and that couple has been making out the whole time,” he said, jabbing his thumb backwards.

“Billy, they can hear you,” I said.

“No, they can’t, I am facing away from them.”

They could hear him, as evidenced by the later online reviews as well as a couple of complaint letters. I have often mentioned in these pages how a server’s ears are the same distance from people sitting at the bar, whether they are facing you or their back is turned. Sometimes it’s good to remind bartenders of that, too.

When Billy later politely asked them — this time facing them — to close out their day tabs, all doubt that they could hear him was removed.

The salesman at position two had continued on unabated, up to and presenting position three with his tattered business card.

Leaving me with these four predictions:

• Position three probably later told all her friends about the super-annoying man bumping into her repeatedly at the bar.

• Position two probably told all his friends about the woman who was “all over him” and kept touching him at the bar.

• Position one probably started looking for someone else to hang out with.

• The one person involved without a position number probably wrote a story about all of it for the local newspaper.

At least I’m sure one of those things happened.