Picture the scene….
It’s Thursday night, the eve of the big Easter Bank Holiday.
You and your friends have just finished a long week of work and cannot wait to get into the pub, G&T in hand, and get the weekend off to a cracking start. So you stroll through town looking for a venue for your post work session and say, “Ooh, look at that loud, crowded pub over there, let’s cram ourselves in. Yes, this is nice, isn’t it? Excellent, there’s a miniscule spot for us to squeeze into over there, that’s right, there, right by the entrance to the bar and that pile of dirty glasses….”
Yes or no?
If you answered “Sounds fab, where can I sign up?” you probably need to get your head checked. If you answered, “Not on your life, mate!!” I’m on your side. This is, unfortunately, the curse of the Bank Holiday. Just like Christmas, the pubs fill up to bursting with people who only go out a few times a year and just don’t seem to get how things work. This poses a problem. When I’ve been stressing out at work all day I really want to have a drink and have fun with my friends, but the last thing I want to do is force myself into a rowdy pub only to get jostled and elbowed every which way. I want to go somewhere chilled out where I can relax and hear myself think. Getting served within half an hour of arriving would be nice too!
Okay, so I realise that places like this are pretty hard to find on a Bank Holiday, but if you do insist on squashing yourself into the last remaining centimetres inside the door, please try to remember that you did in fact choose to be there, so it can only be your fault if you get crushed on your way to the loo. Surely it’s absurd to blame the staff for the lack of breathing space on busy nights, right? Rest assured that you are normal for thinking this. But there are plenty of ‘special occasion’ drinkers out there who would disagree. Shunning all comfort and sensibility, these guys flock like cattle to the nearest pub at 5pm and line the bar, whether or not space allows. And just to make sure their efforts aren’t made in vain, they will then seek to make everybody’s evening as difficult as possible. All ensuing chaos, in their minds, can only be the establishments fault.
They will park themselves wherever they damn well please, and this is generally right in front of the only entrance to the glass wash area, or possibly the toilets. Despite having to constantly huff and puff at the staff as they disturb them while trying to ferry dirty glasses across the floor, they will not take the hint and move. Then they will find a nice handy place to dump their bags, coats and other office paraphernalia, usually the bar top, condiments table, or their favourite place, the floor, where an unsuspecting reveller or glass collector is inevitably going to trip over it. And when they do, they get given a look, which generally says “Broken neck or not, if I find a footprint on my Burberry mac, you are getting the dry cleaning bill, pal!” Even those who were lucky enough to snare a table will manage to hinder their servers at every possible opportunity. Couldn’t they just lean out of the way for 30 seconds while they try to clear their table? Absolutely not. They will make them reach over under and around them and will not acknowledge their polite excuse me please’s. They will, however, acknowledge the fact that, due to lack of manoeuvring space, someone has knocked wine down their suit.
So, you have fought your way to the bar, purchased a beverage and ensconced yourself in a dark corner, sans table. How, at this point could you make your life harder? That’s right, order food! Preferably a huge, awkward sharing platter! During my time behind a bar some of the most common answers I got to the question ‘and where about are you sitting sir/madam?’ when ordering food were as follows:
“Oh, over there somewhere” (accompanied by random hand waving in no particular direction)
“Outside” (accompanied by random hand waving in no particular direction)
“I’m with that big group of people”(accompanied by random hand waving at several large groups of people)
“……….” (Accompanied by icy stare, as if merely asking was a mortal sin)
There are also some poor souls who just can’t get their head around the whole food ordering process. The following conversation can often be heard in many a busy bar, normally resulting in a member of staff tearing their hair out…..
Simple Guy: I want to order some food, but can’t seem to find a spare table!
Weary Bartender: Imagine that! Unfortunately you need a table before we can put through your food order.
WB: Well, we need something to put the food down on so you can eat it…!
SG: But all the tables are full!
WB: Yes I’m afraid they are!
SG: Can’t you ask some people to move?
WB: No, not really…. Would you like me to let you know when a table becomes available?
SG: I really wanted to eat now….
WB: But unfortunately there are no tables available now….
SG: So I can’t order any food then?
WB: Kill me. Just kill me now…..
What does he want? For someone to stand and hold the plate while he eats off of it? Or perhaps usher him into a secret back room where we keep the tables spare for special people such as himself?
Strange, how the minds of others work. One guy leaned over to me one night as I tried to squeeze through a large group with a very heavy tray of glasses, and whispered, “Don’t worry love, it’s not your fault, it’s the manager’s.” I’m still to this day not sure what it was that he thought was the manager’s fault. The fact that the building wasn’t bigger? Or the fact that he was stupid enough to stand right in the way of the bar’s main exit? Perhaps one day we will have magic expanding pubs where fire capacity isn’t an issue, and everyone will be happy.
Until then, I’m just happy my days are spent on the other side of the bar. In a sensible location, promise!