There are more than quite a few horror stories on the internet written by servers or bartenders and their experiences with terrible customers. I worked the restaurant scene for 5 years and definitely have my fair share of stories. My scariest customer encounter happened about five years ago during a March Madness game played at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. I don’t remember who was playing but I do know Kentucky fans were involved. Why? Because they were freakin everywhere downtown.
I was bartending at that time and the bar I was working at had just been bought out. New owners meant lots of changes. Some were good but a lot was not. So this big March Madness game was coming to the arena right next door and we were all given 12 hour shifts, without breaks, for 5 days straights. The first day wasn’t so bad, but by day 3 we were all exhausted, hungry, and over it. Little tank tops are not the best choice when you are working outside, on a rooftop, in 40 degree cold and rainy weather.
The bar was slammed. Like ridiculously slammed. There wasn’t time to think or do anything except pour drinks and pop bottle caps. The customers were relatively understanding, until they weren’t.
This guy, covered in blue, came up and asked for a simple drink.
That will be $4.50.
He creepily smiled at me. I made his drink and handed it to him.
Sir, it’s $4.50.
I turned around to get the next person’s beer. When I turned back around he had ducked behind the bar and was giggling.
Sigh. Dude, it’s $4.50.
I was now serving the third person after him and when I turned back around to get money, dude was gone. I think usually I would have been more relaxed but it was day four of this shit and I was all fired up. I told the girl working the bar with me I’d be right back. I scanned the area and saw him. Bingo.
My 5’4” self marched up to his over 6’0” stumbling self and demanded he pay me the $4.50. I told him he had to pay for his drink and that he couldn't just walk away without paying. He was with his friend and his friend started apologizing and took out his wallet to pay me. So I took the $4.50 and went back to the grind.
I reached down to grab a beer out of the cooler and when I stood up to turn around dude was coming at me hands in a fist. He was behind the bar at this point towering over me and screaming at me about how terrible of a person I was.
For a second time stopped and I swear there was a flash of light. I braced myself for the hit as I dropped the bottle in my hand. But the hit never came. Luckily I worked with some of the best damn bar backs and staff and they intervened and grabbed the guy. Whoa dude. Not cool. Even the other customers chimed in, booing the guy.
But, like I said there were new owners now. The drunk guy in blue went to the owners, who happened to be standing by, and belligerently told them how I was the worst person he had ever met. You would think the owners would back up their employees a little, especially since all I was trying to do was get him to pay for his drink.
Turns out I was wrong. The guy actually had a pretty big tab at the bar but I was unaware. He never told me. Never even hinted to the fact. There is no way I would have gone through the trouble to find him if I knew that. Every beer I didn’t serve meant I wasn’t getting paid. The owner comped his whole tab and apologized for my behavior. My behavior.
Shortly after dude walked away with a free bar tab another guy in blue threw a chair over the roof onto the street three stories below. Luckily nobody got hurt. So all you March Madness fans behave yourselves out there and be nice to your bartenders and servers. They are tired. They are hungry. And they really just want to get through the day without getting hit.
I'm Jackie, an artist, illustrator, and friend to ghosts, monsters, and aliens. This blog is full of DIY projects, stories, and things I think are cool. Stay weird.