10 Ways to Upset Bar Staff
(and guarantee you wait longer)
I have worked as bar staff for years, on and off. I thought when I became an estate agent, my days of serving a customer were over. Then I met M, and became a Pub Wife. So I still have to serve front of house, occasional evenings and weekends.
I’ve done it all. Pubs, restaurants, nightclub, coffee shop, rugby stadium, champagne reception at the Brits, you name it. I have so many fantastic memories of these times but those positive memories are all of the great people I worked with.
Not all but most bad memories are of customers. People so often forget that their servers are not just robots that produce food and drinks magically from thin air, we are people too!
When you’re out with friends and family having a good time, maybe having a few (too many) drinks, sometimes behaviour can slip. So in order to make sure you don’t ruin the day for someone else, here’s a list of things that we can’t stand, and that you can stop doing today to stop being a dick.
1 – Not knowing what you want when you get to the bar
The bar staff have rushed to get through the 4 previous orders because they can see you’re waiting, and stand in front of you. Don’t stand there looking like a deer in headlights because you came here to ask for something and you don’t know what it is. Most likely you’ll drink what you always drink. A customer asking for recommendations on brands or beers is always welcome though!
2 – Putting chewing gum / rubbish in an empty glass
You chose to have chewing gum. If you are not prepared for the disposal of your chosen gum when the time is right, that is your problem, Mr Customer. To put it into a glass makes you one of the worst types of human. The person who clears your glass away is now going to have to spend 10 minutes trying to wash it out (and probably get soaked in the process) or spear it out using a straw, so that it doesn’t go into the dishwasher and end up in someone else’s glass.
3 – Clicking / Whistling
If you click at bar staff to get their attention, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to wait a lot longer than you would have. Servers are humans, not animals. Clicking at them the way you would a cat or a horse is not going to entice them to you. It’s basically scientifically proven to induce amnesia, in fact, with a person simply forgetting which customer was next just from hearing the click.
4 – Being vulgar
This is mostly one for the straight men among you. Just because I work behind a bar, doesn’t mean I’m promiscuous. Even if I am promiscuous, it doesn’t mean I want to sleep with you. I might have put make up on this morning because I feel like it. I might smile at you because being friendly is part of my customer service ethic. That does not, however, invite you to make lewd comments about my body. It does not allow you to ask for my number, ask if I fancy a nightcap, ask for a “pint of you” or anything along a similar vein.
Please, just let me do my job without the borderline sexual harassment.
5 – Forgetting your manners
Saying please or thank you won’t cost you any money but will guarantee to make a difference to the bar staff’s day. Being impolite will most likely bring negative karma to you too. Why would someone go out of their way to enhance their service to you, if you’re being rude? Please take your bad-mannered self out the door and away from me, thank you very much.
6 – Getting in the way
I’m not saying don’t stand at the bar and enjoy your drink. We welcome you to take a look at the artefacts in our site, to soak up the history and atmosphere. However, if I’m trying to walk through the pub holding 4 plates of hot food, that are probably making my arms ache and burning my skin off, dear lord Please don’t just look through me. Be kind, take a step to the side and don’t make me undertake acrobatics to get these fish & chips to table 14.
7 – Interrupting a serve mid serve
The gentlemen I’m serving just asked me for 3 Kronenbourgs, 2 Kopperbergs, a vodka lime and soda, a vodka lemonade and blackcurrant, a mottle of Merlot with 3 glasses, 2 glasses of pinto blush, 3 fish and chips, 2 bags of chilli crisps and four portions of olives. If you interrupt with “can I just have a …” I am definitely going to forget all of the order. My customer will already have forgotten. He’ll have to ask his entire group again what they want. This will all lengthen the process, just leaving you longer to wait for your cube of ice.
8 – Sighing and moaning because you weren’t served next
99% of the time, I’m right in who I serve next in the queue. Unlike a shop, bars don’t have an ordered queuing system. Everyone gathers at any point they like at a bar that can be anywhere up to 30 ft long. Having done my job all day and night for years, my peripheral vision and 7th sense is pretty good. Occasionally, I am wrong. I might go to the man to the left of you who arrived for seconds earlier. Maybe he was actually looking at me when I came to who was next and you were chatting to the person behind you, facing away from me. Either way, I’m just a person who isn’t perfect. I’m also a person who has to work another 9 hours on my feet. You’re the person getting to enjoy the beer I will pour for you in under two minutes. Just chill bro.
9 – Tell me how fun it must be to run a pub
As bar staff, our job is to create an environment for other people to have fun in. That does not mean our job is fun. Yes, sometimes we get to have a laugh with each other or listen to a cool new indie band or enjoy a massive glass of wine that a regular bought. The rest of the time, it’s 13 hour working days, climbing over people who won’t move, guessing that you actually wanted a vodka soda and not the lime soda you ordered, changing a barrel of cider and getting showered in sugary spray, shouting at the chefs and guessing which pie is vegan and which nuts are which. Fun is an adjective rarely used to describe our job.
10 – Try and convince us to have a lock in
It’s midnight. We’ve rung the bell for last orders 15 minutes prior. We’ve also rung the bell to announce closing time. Don’t now try and come and order more drinks. Please don’t try and ask for free drinks and a lock in. If I came to the bank you worked in at 6pm and asked you to stay open till 5pm and give me £100 cash for free, how would you respond? We’ve been open 12 hours. We were here for 3 hours before that. Please, just let us sweep up the garden, wipe down the tables, refill the fridges, stock the shelves, polish the cutlery, tidy and mop the bar and go home.
Have you ever worked in a bar or restaurant? Feel free to vent all your frustrations in the comments below!