...And So Drama Begins!

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Furey's note: This happened a good 6 months ago, and I wrote it about week after it happened. I wanted to wait and see what kind of fallout would occur, but fortunately, none did...read on, I changed some names a bit here to protect things...if you happen to deduce who i'm talking about - hey congrats, but keep it out of the comments! ;)

Once again, drama has to show up and rear its ugly head. Of course, it has to happen the first night of The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken is to gather at the bar.

The night started so innocently...

I get a seat at the table, so I can sit with my friends. Virginia, the bartender, is still working behind the bar. I say hello to her and ask if I can put on some pre-game music. She gives me a curt answer saying, "Fine. Whatever." I have known her for years and I just can hear it in her voice, she is obviously annoyed at something.

It turns out that two guys, who are semi-regular customers at the bar, are bothering her. It is not even 7:30 yet and they are very drunk on tequila laden margarhitas from a mexican bar around the corner. They are being obnoxious to her and she isn't enjoying it one bit. The problem that she, as a bartender, runs into is that regular customers are a bartender's bread and butter. Tips are the life blood of a bartender. Plus a lot of regulars may have other friends who are regulars at your bar too. It becomes a very complex situation if you are giving the boot to a regular who gets too drunk. The normal situation is to cut the drunks off from alcohol and just downplay the situation as best you can. The drunk will get the hint and leave without you having to actually throw them out.

At 8pm, she turns over her shift to the night bartender and gets ready to leave. I tell her to chill with me at the table, away from the bar, and away from the obnoxious patrons. We chat for about 15 minutes when both guys from the bar come over to my table to talk to her. One is a bald meathead steroid abuser and the other is a tall dark haired guy who is clearly impressed with his ego.

They start to chat up Virginia, trying to convince her to sit at the bar with them and have another drink. She is replying with two word answers and but still trying to be polite at the same time. I can tell by her body language that she wants them to go away. After watching this for a few minutes, I finally stepped in and said, "Guys, not for nothin', but you are bothering her and you are annoying me."

The reaction was negligible, they briefly looked my way and just ignored me and tried to keep chatting her up. They try to engage her a few more times and give up, leaving us to sit at the bar. The night bartender notices how intoxicated these guys have become and has cut them off from drinking. Virginia and I keep talking and she is telling me about how annoying it is that some patrons come to the bar and take advantage of the place; breaking things, stealing items or thinking they can do whatever they want, like they own the joint. She feels it is very disrespectful towards the bar. After being the manager for 2 years she is extremely tired of it, and I feel really bad for her since she is such a sweetheart of a person. She is always nice to everyone, guys or girl, beautiful or homely. People gravitate to her & come to the bar on nights she works because they like to see her.

A friend from the bar asks me to turn up the TV volume. Trotter from the Eagles and Mathias from the Falcons got into some scuffle, and they want to hear what's going on. I go behind the bar, fix the volume, when another patron, sitting between the drunk bald meathead and the tall guy ask me what's going on at the game. I say "Trotter and someone got into a fight."

Bald meathead guy, overhearing the conversation, misinterprets what I said. He stands up, looks at me screw-eyed and says, "FIGHT?! FIGHT?!", he puffs up his chest at me and adds, "WE AREN'T STARTING ANY FIGHTS!!".

The drunken moron, hopped up on tequila and full of beer muscles (along with his Testosterone rushing through his body), is looking for a fight. I was calm about it and gestured towards the TVs saying, "I'm talking about the EAGLES game. The players got into a pre-game scuffle."

Bald meathead sullenly says, "Oh.", he turns to his friends, "I thought he was talkin' 'bout us...", and sits back down.

I go back to the table and tell Virginia about these freaks. We start talking about how the patrons of the bar has changed over the years - we used to have so many adult regulars and now it's like the next Stevens University club house. I like the kids at Stevens, but miss a lot of my friends that I know from Moran's or Farside that used to come to the bar every weekend.

While talking about this, a short, young looking guy, walks up, interrupts our conversation and hugs Virginia making a big show of it saying, "Virginia! I love Virginia! She's my girl!"

This kid, of Indian/Pakistani heritage, is friends with the other two drunken guys at the bar and is clearly smashed himself. I have no idea who he is, I don't recall him when I bartended two years ago. But, then again, every year there is a new tide of new patrons who become "regulars".

I continue to talk to Virginia, with the little guy there, about underage kids who try and get into the bar. We were discussing various ideas, like making the age 23 or older, similar to Madison's policy on the weekends (with 25 or older), which would root out the majority of students - since most of them have fake ID. Or possibly get a machine to scan IDs that are phony.

The kid hears this and looks at me incrediously, "What? What are you talking about? This bar, and the rest of Hoboken, would die if it wasn't for Stevens students! Do you have any idea how much money Stevens students pump into this town between September and May?!"

I was already fairly angry from the last incident, and pumped up for the first Eagles game of the season. I snapped, "That's bullshit! The bar did just fine without the Stevens kids when I was here for the first two years. We're are tired of people coming in, stealing items or punching holes in our walls."

"It's not Stevens students who only do that! You have no proof!", he claimed.

"Dude, the majority of problems we have had over the last year are all due to kids from the school. There are plenty of witnesses."

Eventually his drunkeness and my sarcasm turns an arguement into a all out verbal war - Virginia sat there watching us go at it, and didn't say a word. It gets to the point where I realize he is extremely insecure and he boasted to me the following statements:

1) He is one of the most important promoter in New York City.
2) He comes to the bar every night but can still maintain a 4.0 GPA.
3) He claimed that with one phone call and he can have 70 Stevens kids here to drink.
4) He works for Major Pharmaceutical company.
5) He owns 3 cars.
6) He has been working since he was 7 and his parents don't pay for anything. He has worked for all his money, which he has a lot of.

He is saying this in front of Virginia and i'm either ridiculing or countering all his boasts - which infuriates him more. One example was he says, "He is at the bar..ALL THE TIME!" - So I counter with, "That says a lot about you, doesn't it?" He sputtered with his "But I still maintain a 4.0 GPA!" The rest of the arguement followed the same path. Half of his insecure ramblings was about how important he was, or how much money he had. This is a classic "guy-ism", they make grand statements about how much money they make, or the cars they drive, or the house they live in, or the clothes they wear, or the jewelery they own to try and impress people.

After a bit of bantering and glaring on his part, I didn't want to get into a fight. It was the first night of my Eagles club and the first game, I wasn't going to start the season by throwing some haymakers. So, I tried to calm him down, saying that i'm just frustrated by the minority of kids that give the rest of the good kids a bad name. I even offered to shake his hand. I told him by name and asked his, and he replies "Jose Cuervo". I'm telling him lets calm down and seriously just be cool. I was easily a foot taller than him and outweighed him by at least 70 pounds. Unlike steroid boy, i'm not interested in intimidating those weaker than myself. He didn't want to let it go - the drunken hold on him was too strong. He walks away from us in a huff, and walks over to the drunken meathead and the tall guy at the bar. I rolled my eyes to myself when I saw this - I didn't know this guy was pals with the regulars and I knew this was just going to fuel the fire from earlier.

Once he leaves I apologize to Virginia for getting him upset and she turns to me and says, "I know him and he is normally a nice guy to me. This is ridiculous. I don't know how much longer I can put up with this kind of stuff it gets old." I listen to her vent for a bit, and try to offer reassuring advice.

"Jose" is at the bar, clearly talking smack about me, pointing making gestures my way while talking to his friends. I don't need this. The Eagles game was about to begin and I just wanted a good night of football, not a brawl.

I didn't want to let this get out of hand. I had about 80 people show up tonight for the Eagles club. Some were old friends, and it would turn into an open brawl if someone hit me. This would be very bad for the bar and my club, so I go over to Jose and I say, "Hey i'm a Christian raised kind of guy, and believe in being the better man.", with an outstretched hand. I was completely sincere. If the kid was a regular and he was ok like Virginia said, i'd apologize to him.

The little guy was still furious and wouldn't shake my hand. He wouldn't look at me while saying "Go sit down...", with his tough guy act. The drunken meathead guy was behind Jose and stands up from his seat and shouts, "Why you trying to shake his hand now? Huh?" The taller, darkhaired guy is just watching this going on and not getting involved.

I shrug and go back to the table, and a few of my friends saw this, including my roommate Jon, and my boyhood friends Brad and Matt - who are all wondering what's going on. I explain the situation and they are mostly incredulous. They all agree that this fight would be over in about 15 seconds. Meathead might get a punch in, but he isn't going to be able to take on me and 3 other guys. I don't care how much tequila he drank.

While talking to the others, on the corner of my eye I see Jose staring at me.

He is transfixed on me with a 1,000 yard death stare. Now, if he was about 6 inches higher and 100 pounds heavier, this could have a more crippling effect upon my psyche. Sadly, it was like a chiuahua trying to bare his teeth. I took one look at him and busted out laughing. Are you kidding me?!

Moments later, a fourth guy shows up, who is, to put bluntly, huge. This guy was an enormous gym rat and Virginia sees the bigger guy walk in and jumps up from her seat and yells at bald meathead, "Oh, what - did you call your friend to beat Furey up?!"

Bald meathead is shaking his head 'no' to Virginia. A few moments pass and the big gym rat is leading bald meathead out the door, while he passes us he says to Virginia, "I've got to get him out of here." I'm guessing that this new guy was sober and saw his beer muscled friend was too drunk to hang around any longer.

Yet, Jose remained with the tall guy. He sat at the end of the bar, watched the first half and was vigorously cheering for the Falcons the whole time. When the Falcons would have a good play he would clap and holler and was clearly trying to antagonize me by applauding in my direction. It was like being in junior high school.I considered throwing him out of the bar, but instead, I just put up with it rather than causing a bigger scene.

At halftime, Jose walked over to Virginia and I were sitting. We spoke a bit but clearly he wasn't the forgive and forget type. We both tried to downplay what happened, but he was giving me these extra strong backslaps which I know he was trying to provoke me, and I just let go. My consideration here was that he was a patron at the bar I just started to work at again. If he was doing this to me at any other bar I was a regular, he would have been out the door. He leaves the bar about 10 minutes later, with a smug look on his face.

I found out the next day, from another bartender, that Jose and company called him after they left the bar. He said that they were wrecked and he couldn't understand a word they were saying on the cell phone. He followed up with them the next day and they admitted they were sloshed. They also said Virginia had every right to cut them off from drinking.

Therein lies the rub. You work in a service industry like bartending, you become friendly, sometimes friends, with your customers. They come in often, spend money at the bar and tip well. They invite their friends to come to the bar. They bring business to your business and start to feel, well, important. As a bartender, sure, you like patrons that bring you more customers. Your job is to make them feel welcome, and deliver what they want - intoxication.

So now, with that intoxication, it blurs judgement and reason. That same customer who was cool for the last couple of weeks, turns out to be a raging monster when they get drunk sometimes. I have seen my own friends do this, pull a "Jekyle and Hyde" routine.

In the end, in many ways this drama was my fault. I shouldn't have started with "Jose", but to be honest I was on a short fuse with the pressures of that night. It quickly snowballed into into a bad situation and i'm just glad a melee didn't start. I sincerely hope the kid is more level headed the next time I see him, the last thing I want is to get off on the wrong foot now that i'm bartending again.

Furey's note: For the record I never saw the kid again...

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on January 25, 2006 12:00 AM.

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