Sunday, November 2, 2008

Another Halloween pic and a work-related rant

There was a free photographer taking pictures of folks in their Halloween costumes at the concert/party/extravaganza thingy I was at at Reggie's on Halloween. They took shots of you in sets of four like a photo booth and are posting them to this website. They put their "Best of" up now and will put the rest up on Tuesday, but this shot of me, Scott, and Kathy was included in the "Best of" and I thought it was pretty awesome:

I may have more to share come Tuesday when they put the rest up and I apologize if I'm going overboard with the pictures. I just love Halloween and haven't done it up proper in too long.

Okay, now I just need to rant about something that happened last night at the bar that pissed me off so much that I woke up after only 5 or 6 hours of sleep, happened to think about it again, and then couldn't get back to sleep. This little rant is called "Just because you're liberal and I may agree with your politics doesn't mean you are always right."

From time to time my regular customers at the Beacon grate on my nerves a little bit. They get a little too drunk and cross that boundary from amusing to mildly irritating. It happens when people get drunk in general. I have no doubt that I have crossed that line while intoxicated. And as the bartender, when you are the one sober individual surrounded by drunks, there are definitely days where you come home with a headache and feeling kind of drained. But for the most part my regulars know when they are being obnoxious, they laugh it off with me either that night or the next time I see them and it's all cool. I have never gone home and woken up the next day still pissed because one was a total jerk to me. It's only the random crazies that stumble in who have ever caused that kind of angst. Until now.

We're just gonna called this guy Obnoxious because that is what he has been lately. Last night was basically his third strike with me. Strike One came soon after I started back. It was still summer and I was juggling waiting on the beer garden, waiting on the bar, serving drinks and making food for Obnoxious. While I am in the middle of cutting up Obnoxious' quesadilla, the bar's phone rings. I run to answer it. It's Obnoxious. Calling from the beer garden on his cell phone because he needs another Bud Light. "I would have been out there in a minute with your food and planned to take beer garden orders then," I growl. He just laughs obnoxiously. I send one of the other bartenders (who is there drinking not working because we only have one person per shift, hence how harried I get during busy times) out with his food and beer. He does apologize for this later, admitting to being obnoxious, but at the same time not acknowledging that he disrupted the flow of my work with his unneccesary phonecall just saying that I take him too seriously. Whatever. This is one of those incidents with regulars that I would normally write off as a random annoying drunk moment. I probably wouldn't even be thinking about it now if Obnoxious hadn't pulled more shit.

So then like a month ago, Obnoxious is out drinking in the beer garden. That night there is a waitress and the owner is there so I am not running back and forth, I am just pouring drinks/opening bottles for the waitress and she deals with the customers out there. So I don't know exactly what happened, only what the waitress, the owner and other regulars told me, which was basically Obnoxious was getting into a loud conversation with another regular and using racial slurs (surprising at the moment because Obnoxious is a liberal, but after last night not so suprising because he's clearly a bit of a hypocrite), so the owner tells him to leave because obviously this behavior is not acceptable. He screams a bunch of shit at the owner about how he will ruin him and his business and then runs out on his tab and without tipping. The owner adds few bucks onto the tab, leaves a note to the other bartenders that Obnoxious must pay said tab before drinking in the bar again and the extra few bucks will be my tip. I know that if I were in the situation or probably if any of my other regulars were, they would have paid the tab and either left a good tip and said give this to Stephanie and Katie (the waitress) or the next time they saw me, they would have apologized and given a nice tip because obviously Obnoxious didn't know that a tip was added to his tab and besides, his beef was with the owner, not me and Katie. But no. He never tipped and much much worse than that, he never apologized to either me or Katie. That was a real strike against him. But I was still friendly. I was still a good bartender. I still bought him a beer when he came in just like I do for the other regulars. But yeah, I'm not gonna be so nice anymore.

Last night, other than the Obnoxious incident was pretty good. A steady stream of business, the likes of which I haven't seen since early September. Not sure if it is the weather or the economy but business has not been great lately. Also there were people coming in specifically to see me, either because they were reading/planning to read my book or because they read my monthly Forest Park Review column. One older gentleman came in for that reason. He was a really nice guy, a nurse, like my parents. So we were having a conversation about what he does, what I do, what he wants to do (leave Chicago because of the icky winters and have a small organic farm in the south). Obviously because I am busy I can't solely converse with one person, so I'm kind of bopping back and forth to this guy and Obnoxious has struck up a conversation with him as well. It's friendly, normal, fine at first. Then somehow the conversation turns to economics. All of a sudden Obnoxious is in full-on rant mode because the other gentleman said, "I have to disagree with you slightly." Note, he did not say anything like "I'm a big conservative and I think you are completely wrong." He said he disagreed slightly, started to explain and then Obnoxious just started ranting about how everyone in the bar was a conservative and he was sick of hearing views that people were getting from Fox News and blah blah blah, just shouting over this guy who was quietly saying, "I don't watch Fox News... I just have a different view...." and then finally "I don't even really want to talk about this." So at that point, I stepped in and said, "Hey, Obnoxious, why don't you chill and tone it down and actually give this guy a chance to talk instead of talking over him." He continued to rant for a moment, I reiterated my point, then he finally shut up, told me to buy the guy a drink from him and walked out presumably to smoke.

When he came back, he started talking to some other people. I continued talking to this guy about the things we were orginally talking about. It was pleasant and I really enjoyed the conversation. He left saying that he planned to come back again. I was pleased. I like meeting new people who I can hold intelligent conversations with. I like bringing new people into the bar and not because I want to line my pockets (though yes it is important for me to establish a customer base), but because it's a cool bar, the coolest in town IMHO and I want other people to enjoy it and I want my boss to be able to run a successful business so I still have a job and I want people to come in on other nights so my co-workers make good money. I treated other new people that came in that night the same way because I want them to enjoy themselves, enjoy the bar, and come back. It's my job and I get pleasure out of sharing a place I love with others.

I was in a great mood because so many new people were coming in. But after my new guy left and the people Obnoxious were talking to left, he decided to go off on me. He started in by saying, "See, I listen Stephanie. I listened so well that that woman told a story that not even her partner knew."

I said, "That's nice, Obnoxious. But you're not always a good listener. You talk over people a lot and you were being rude to that man before."

"Well, I don't care. I stand up for my beliefs. I was right and he was wrong."

"How do you know that? You didn't even listen to him. You talked right over him."

"I don't need to hear the same conservative crap that I hear from everyone else in this bar." (Note: not everyone in the bar is conservative. Not by a long shot. I think it's evenly split 50/50.)

"I don't think he was saying that same old thing. I think he had a slightly differing opinion because economics is a complicated issue. If you had let him speak..."

"What? You check your ideals at the door when you come to work? You kiss up to the conservatives just for a tip?"

And then he basically continues to rant about what a sellout and a whore I am until I am physically shaking and fighting back tears because no one has ever EVER been so rude and disrespectful to me at the bar with the exception of the totally crazy guy from the almost barfight. I tell him to stop talking to me like this. That I don't check anything at the door. I give my opinion when asked, but I am also interested in hearing other people's opinions, that's how I learn, not to mention I believe in free speech. But no, Obnoxious continues to yell over me and tell me I'm a bad person and a sellout and that he is ALWAYS right, he never loses arguments because he is ALWAYS right and everyone else is ALWAYS wrong, which is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard. No one is always right and when it comes to OPINIONS such as politics, things are not black and white, right and wrong, and we can all learn from each other and that's the only way progress will ever be made is if we listen and learn from each other. And I want to say all of this and I want to say, you know who else thinks they are always fucking right, George W. Bush. Oh and I'm sure Hitler thought he was always right too. I don't care if I agree with your point of view, thinking that you are always right and demeaning people who aren't even disagreeing with you is fucking dangerous. And I want to say that protecting other customers from loud ranting fools whether they be liberal, conservative or just ranting about pink elephants is my job. Maintaining some sense of order in a place where alcohol creates chaos is my job. And no I don't make a lot of money from it and yes I do need every dollar, every freakin' quarter in order to pay my mortgage because I'm not a salaried engineer like you who probably earns at least three times what I do every year and has no idea what kind of crap people working in the service industry put up with to earn every last dime. How's that for fucking economics?

But I don't say any of this. I just stand there twitching and let my other regulars, my GOOD regulars attempt to deal with him. Pat is telling him to shut up, that he's not right all the time, he's probably not right half the time because nobody is and he certainly isn't right right now. And DW who is this quiet guy who most might consider nerdy because he plays a lot of role playing games actually slams his bottle of Bud on the bar and says "SHUT THE FUCK UP, OBNOXIOUS! SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

And Obnoxious says, "You don't have to tell me to leave. I'm leaving."

And I say, "Good" because obviously I wasn't planning to serve him any more and if the other regulars hadn't shut him up in, I was about to throw him out.

And he throws three bucks on the bar and DW says that I should throw it back. But I don't because I'm not going to be reduced to acting like a ranting, raving, childish lunatic like him. And tell DW what I wanted to say to Obnoxious, about how I do need every dollar I earn because I'm not an engineer. But I have to admit taking that money did make me feel more like a whore than any other tip I've taken. However, I deserved that money for putting up with his shit. I deserved way the fuck more than 3 bucks for that in fact. I am obviously underpaid.

After Obnoxious left, I bought shots for my good regulars. The people who no matter their political beliefs know better than to bite the hand that feeds. It's not smart to piss off your bartender. But my biggest point, the thing that I wish I could have said to his face, but now I'll say it here, without any concern that he'll read this because in this case, he was wrong and I deserve an apology, but also everyone can learn from it. You can't call yourself a liberal and berate and demean people, particularly a woman who has to work her ass off a low-paying job to make ends meet. I mean, aren't people like me the kind of people that people with his politics are supposed to be standing up for? But politics aside, let's rephrase this: You can't call yourself a human being and berate and demean people.

Ah, the lessons we learn from drunk people.

Thanks for letting me rant. It turned out to be a much longer rant that I meant, but now I got it off my chest and I can go to work tonight and be happy to serve the people who are kind to me and who are interesting and not resent my job because of the occasional asshole. I'll get back to happily posting zombie pictures soon, I promise :)


Anonymous said...

OK, first of all, you would be well within reason to 86 that guy for good. And second, OHMYGOD that picture is SO GREAT!!!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks Annika. I'm hoping he has the good sense to either not show up on my shift again or to come begging for forgiveness because yeah, otherwise...

And I'm glad you love the picture in this blog and the other one!