Tales from the Pub

November 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

As you may know, I work in a pub in London, in the city. Needless to say, the area itself attracts a lot of wealthy (and wankery) bankers. Despite the odd arrogant prick, it’s a pretty reasonable public and because the building is so old, it’s full of tourists.

Well, any person that has ever worked with customer service or in direct contact with public all the time knows that for every really nice customer you get 10 assholes. It’s sad, but true. In the pub, we named them “Sunday customers”. Tell you what: Sundays are weird days. Sundays attract the weirdest type of people to that place. I don’t know if it’s because it’s such a business area that if you are around that area on a weekend, you have to be odd. More and more lately, and specially during Christmas time, these “Sunday customers” appear during the week. They are those difficult customers (I’m not talking about asking for things, because it’s a restaurant, of course you need some things), those that seem to want to make your life difficult, specially when it’s busy. If I’m talking with another customer, don’t come shouting asking for another bottle of wine. Most waitresses/waiters are quite aware and are not as dumb as we look.

There are the Sunday regulars as well. They are different than the regular regular ones. The week regular ones are those business men from next door or down the road. They come, they drink, they go back to the office, they come back, they drink, they have dinner sometimes with clients. Usually they don’t know your name, but they are nice and I don’t know their names either. Unless my boss mentions it and introduces me, but most likely, I’ll forget your name. It just happens. I’ll forget your face after the first time I see you, unless you came back the next day (or you are really bloody gorgeous). In my case, I deal with usually more than 50 customers a day, 5 days a week. More on Fridays. It’s quite a lot of people to remember every single face. I’ll probably remember what you drank, though. That’s just easier. 2 double gin and tonics, a lager and any bitter you have. Deal. Come back and ask the same again, I’ll probably remember the order. Not your face, though.

We have this guy, who comes on weekends usually. He’s about 50 years old. Skinny, glasses. He has this absent smile, a bit spaced, you could say. I’ve seen him pay for a meal only once. People just pay for him. It’s hilarious. I thought that maybe he’s a professional con man, but who knows. He comes and sits down in the front, grabs a newspaper (usually Financial Times) and starts to chat with whoever is in the bar, asking for suggestions. He orders starter and main and ALWAYS asks for a 15min interval. Then, he starts to freak out over the napkins. He uses around 4 sometimes. Trying to protect his clothes and his body from any dirt from the food. He goes mad when the cutlery touches the table and shouts asking for more napkins. I fear telling him that the newspaper which his hands were touching minutes ago is probably way dirtier than the table.
So, he sits there and he always strikes up conversation with the table next to him. Always. People seem very annoyed at first. Or amused. He tells tales about his life, which I never had the time to actually listen to. But people start buying him wine, sometimes desserts and sometimes they just pay for the whole bill. The only time I saw him pay, was because the table next to him was one of the girls that works in the pub, so, she didn’t really had any interest in talking to him.

So, anyway this day he had to pay for the bill, he got up and said bye. He looked at my colleague and with this random and very absent smile, said , ‘I’ve lost my wife’ and walked away. I heard it and looked at her, completely baffled at that situation. Did I hear that right? And then the other customers in the bar looked at me, with puzzled faces probably similar to mine. It came to my mind Adrian Monk, from the TV show, who has OCD (which this guy clearly has) and lost his wife, going a bit (very) lost after it.

It makes me think how weird is it that these people are part of my life and I’m sort of part of theirs as well. When I leave, will they remember me? Will they ask where did I go? If I’m coming back? When I leave, will I think of them at all? Most customers will just come and go and I’ll probably not remember them after a couple of months, but some are pretty memorable.

There’s this American guy, who had a lamb pie in the first time he went there and everything I suggested, he loved it. He came back week after week with different people and he would introduce me to these people and say I was the best waitress ever and that was the only reason he actually went there (plus the pie is amazing). I haven’t seen him in a while, but he has brought his wife already and his mother-in-law. He introduces me and praises me to his friends. It’s actually quite interesting, because from several conversations we’ve had, he has this very accurate opinions about my personality. Sometimes, he even makes me realise things I never noticed before. He’s the sweetest guy and every time he goes to the pub, I sit down and talk to him for half an hour. It’s this kind of thing that compensates for all the shit that working with public does to you. Plus, the standing around for hours, the pain in my legs, the dry hands from working in the bar and the rude drunk customers who go WAY beyond the line.

Today we had a couple making out. It happens quite often, specially because it’s a very cosy pub, with candles and some tables which are more private. There was this couple once who was making out in one of those tables. The girl walked towards the toilet and you could see that her stockings were halfway through her leg on the right side. Honestly, people. I know that sometimes you are horny and when you are in the honeymoon phase of the relationship, you do want to spend the whole time making out, but really? REALLY? It’s a pub. There are people sitting next to you. Even if there wasn’t anyone, there’s still the staff. US. Hey, most time people forget about the waitress anyway, but really? After we are closed, everyone else is gone, the lights are on, the music is off, the chairs are up, we are sweeping the floor and you still don’t realise that it’s time to fucking leave? Get a room. We are not invisible and unaware and I definitely don’t want to see people making out in front of me while I’m doing my job. If I did, I would be working with prostitution and making much more money.

I don’t know where I’m going with this post. I just think it’s something curious to say.

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