Today is the first non-working St. Patrick’s Day I’ve had in three years. I didn’t take vacation; I still showed up to the office and did the same amount of stuff I always do. But at that job, I sit in an orthopedic chair all day and send e-mails. I can take breaks. I can go to the bathroom without some drunk asshole pounding on the door. In short, I am not bartending on St. Patrick’s Day anymore. And that, my friends, is work. It’s work that my body knows no matter how long I live without it.
I have never been a club bartender. I have no inclination to dirty a shaker, a top, a strainer, a glass, and possibly a stir multiple times a night just to make one drink at a time. I don’t like it when people shout their orders at me or take a swipe behind the bar to try and get my attention. I hate being spoken to like “the help” and I refuse to wait in line for the bathroom while some snotty little trust funder decides if what they just horked off the back of the toilet is good coke or not. If I want to go to work like I’m going to battle every day and hang on by my nails for the paycheck, I’ll stick with my regular job.
Instead, I am a tavern bartender. A bar bartender. A dive bartender, if you will. I like having regulars, knowing names, and getting tipped big on my birthday without having to throw a party for myself. It honestly makes me feel better about my profession when I know what you’re having, can have it ready by the time you sit down, and understand when you’re maybe a little skint.
But on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m a mercenary. It’s a cliche term, but St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s, Halloween, and the Night Before Thanksgiving really are amateur hours. I mean, hardened drunks are out there, too, but they’re overshadowed by the people who really tie it on maybe three times a year, and as a result, they don’t know how to act in a fucking bar.
I’m busy. When the bar is four-to-six deep all fucking day and I can’t get out of the weeds, you need to pay some fucking attention to what’s going on around you. You are not the only one here. I see you. I will take your order in time. Yelling, whistling, snapping your fingers, or reaching out to grab me will not get the good side of my attention. I don’t care that you’re drunk; remember your goddamn manners when you’re in my bar.
Everyone else wants to drink just as much as you do, which means that when I reach you and you don’t tell me your order, like, five minutes ago, you’re getting passed up for someone else. I don’t have time for you to lollygag all over the place before deciding what you want. Figure it out before you approach the bar.
Do not order a margarita. Or a daiquiri. Or anything else that requires a blender, fruit puree, or a garnish other than a desiccated citrus wedge that’s been languishing in the tray for the past several hours (and if you must have one of those, no you may not complain about it’s sad and nasty state). It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Beer, whiskey, and Bailey’s are your best options. Drink those or drink at home.
Speaking of Bailey’s…you can always tell the people who never drink by the ones who order multiple shots of Bailey’s. What a pussy shot. I don’t even do shots and I think Bailey’s is pussy. If you’re going to do a shot, you choose whiskey. If you must have Bailey’s, you can have it in a car bomb.
DO NOT SING FUCKING IRA SONGS IN THIS BAR. First of all, you’re an idiot. Second of all, the IRA is a terrorist organization, not a political party. Third, for all your talk about being Irish and hating the British and oh shut the fuck up already, it’s likely that the last of your family to immigrate from Ireland did so around the turn of the 20th century, which means that you didn’t know them. You’ve probably never been to Ireland. All you have are stories with no real understanding, and every time you mention your “clan,” I want to thump you over your dumbass head with my beating stick.
Don’t argue with me over the price of your drinks. Yes, beers are more expensive on St. Patrick’s Day. Because we can, that’s why. This is not the flea market, there is no bargaining here. Give me my money or get the fuck out.
If you want to run a tab, I need your credit card. In my hand. Now. Even if you’re a regular, I can’t take it on good faith that you won’t stumble out of here drunk without paying your tab. If I have your card, I can still charge you and add my industry standard (but paltry, we’re getting to that) 15% tip. If I don’t have your card, you’re not drinking.
Last year, some dude was coming up to the bar every 15 minutes for one cherry-vodka-and-Sprite, one Jack-and-Coke, one Jack-and-Diet, one rum-and-Coke, three Bud Lights, and several shots of Bailey’s. It was constant. By the time he left, his tab was well over $300.00 (St. Louis drinks cheap, btw). While he tipped about 18%, Liza and I still felt cheated. Sometimes it’s not the money you spend, it’s the effort the bartender makes to keep you drunk that you should consider when tipping. We worked our asses off for this guy for several hours and earned way more than what he tipped. Plus, fucking Bailey’s, man. Come on.
You start a fight, you get thrown out by a giant biker dude who barely ever smiles. Period.
You look like you’re going to start a fight and then tell the bartender to fuck off when she tells you everything’s cool, you get thrown out by a giant biker dude who barely ever smiles and now hates your fucking guts because you disrespected his favorite bar.
When we tell you to leave, leave. The average St. Pat’s shift lasts 12-14 hours. We’ve been on our feet for all of those on the busiest drinking day of the year. We’re ready to go home. We don’t care that it’s not 1:30 yet; any bar with a brain closes early when everyone worth serving has been drinking since 7am. You’re lucky we let you stay this long. But now we’re tired and we hurt and we want to collect our cash in peace. If you won’t go voluntarily, there’s that giant biker dude and all of our boyfriends to enforce our policy.
Yeah, we’re staying. I’ve been fortunate enough to have bosses who let me drink during my shift, but you better believe I’m hanging around for a beer after closing time. This is the best part of working service. Drinking a supercold beer at a dark, quiet bar, counting your tips and chatting tiredly with your co-workers about your shared mongrel tribe.
Call a cab. You’re not being cool or hardcore by getting into your car and attempting to drive home. I’m parked nearby and I really don’t want to worry about you slamming into me when you should have gotten a sober ride home.
Get out of the diners. After 1am on major drinking days, all-night diners should serve service personnel only. We hate dreaming about that tall Coke and greasy Slinger (or burger, or pancakes, or biscuits with sausage and pepper gravy) for the last hour of our shift and then not getting a seat because you couldn’t settle for Taco Bell.
Get moving. Give us our money. Get out. Go home.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.