I got my first job as a bartender over four years ago. I got into the business for the same reason as anyone else, and that reason is free booze. Also, the hours are easy to work with as a student, and the money isn’t too bad. But mostly free booze. I have worked in just about every bar you can imagine; from dingy public bars in pubs where old men make perverse comments while slurping their pots of XXXX Gold’s, to busy nightclubs where barely 18 year olds order their drinks by screaming “WET PUSSY” in your face and then falling over themselves in hysterics. As I enter my 5th year as a bartender, I would like to look back on some of my most memorable moments in this filthy filthy industry, for your entertainment. Sit back and prepare to feel mostly disgust but hopefully also some sort of intrigue. Warning contains nudity, sex, coarse language and other fairly non-PG stuff.
In really busy bars where security guards are needed there are a range of radio codes we use for differing situations in which a guard is needed, ‘code blue', is for cops, ‘code green’ is intoxication, ‘yellow’ is fight, and everybody’s favourite, ‘pink’, is sex. My first ever code pink experience was only weeks into my bartending career, and I believe I handled it with all the decorum and maturity of a 13-year-old boy finding out about periods for the first time. It was at a busy student night at the pub where I worked. There was a blackout on the top floor of the building. Everyone was quickly rounded up and sent downstairs. I was sent to check the bathrooms to make sure no one had been left behind. When I entered the girl’s bathrooms, I heard what for a moment I thought was a girl sobbing. I felt my way into the darkness, and asked “Sweetie, are you ok?” The response was some hushing sounds followed by some suppressed giggles. As my eyes adjusted to the light I made out two pairs of legs poking out from the bottom of one stall and my innocent little teen brain slowly connected the dots, causing me to scream out in horror and stumble out of the bathroom and down the hallway yelling “CODE PINK, CODE PINK”, to no one in particular. The responding security guards handled the situation in a slightly more professional way, opening the bathroom door just a crack and telling the couple, “Ok guys, time to wrap it up in there.” The couple finally emerged holding hands, and were escorted from the building. As they walked by me I met eyes with the girl, she smiled back at me boldly and gave me a regal little wave (Duchess of Cambridge, eat your heart out). I think about that couple from time to time. I hope they get married one day and have babies and when their kids grow up they will ask, “Mumma, how did you and Dad meet?” and the Duchess will reply, “Well kids, it was a Sunday night, and your father and I were pretty wasted….”
Me Vs. Super angry old misogynist
When I worked in the public bar of a 150 year old pub, most of my patrons were men who seemed to be roughly around that age, many of whom’s attitude to women had not been updated since the early 60s. The most memorable experience in that job was an incident with the angriest old man of all time. I had returned to the bar, after running some food out to a customer, a little old lady and a man were waiting to be served. I asked the lady what she was after and the man behind her let out an exaggerated grunt, apparently believing that he should have been served first. As I poured the lady her beer the man continued to grunt and snort and pace around in frustration like a rhino preparing to charge. When the lady was clear of the bar, I cautiously approached the man and asked him politely if something was the matter. His eye’s grew so wide and his face so red I thought he was going to pop. Then he let rip the most bizarrely sexist and revolting rant I have ever heard. At first I was so shocked that it was funny, unfortunately my failure to suppress a giggle only revved him up and he took his abuse to the next level. Somewhere between “it takes four women to do one man’s job” and, “this is why you don’t deserve equal rights”, something inside me snapped, I was suddenly on the other side of the bar, the man was backing away but still ranting. Some of my other regulars stood up seemingly unsure of who they should be protecting, the ranting old man or the five foot bartender charging towards him with madness in her eyes. I was yelling something at him, I can’t tell you what it was, partly because I’m ashamed and also because I actually can’t remember most of it, it’s a blur of rage. He backed out the door and was hurrying down the street, I was still in pursuit. My arm outstretched giving him the finger. The last thing I remember saying before I came to my senses was “Don’t ever come back you old turd!” I never saw him again.
This is a story I actually missed witnessing by seconds. It happened outside a venue where I was working, moments before I stepped out on my break. I was told the story by three separate sources, some male patrons who were completely beside themselves with excitement, some cops who seemed pretty amused and my manager at the time, who described it as ‘fairly basic’ but to be fair that guy has seen some things. What happened was a woman, of about 20 had been evicted from the venue for being overly intoxicated. She was insisting that she be let back inside and find her sister, who was suppose to be taking her home. A guard instead went looking for the sister who, once found, was apparently not done partying and danced off into the crowd. The guard had to return to the evicted woman and tell her that her sister had no intention of coming home with her. The woman was extremely pissed off at her sister, but luckily came up with an ingenious plan for revenge. Apparently she was wearing her sisters shirt, so before a crowd of guards, police and patrons she tore the shirt right of her body. She threw the ripped shirt on the footpath, stomped on it a few time and was on her way off up the street completely topless. Moral here kids is never leave a sister hanging, nudity might ensue.
Bathroom lines. They are the worst. Especially if you are working in a venue where 1000’s of thirsty youths are sharing 10 toilet cubicles. This is the venue I was working at when the “office incident” occurred. It was a busy night, and my manager was counting money in the office when a patron appeared hopping from foot to foot asking for a bathroom, my manager pointed her in the right direction but the poor girl had tried there. The line was too long. She was drunk, busting to pee and completely out of options. So without warning, as my horrified manager watched on, she stripped off her jumpsuit and squatted, now naked, on the office floor. My Manager began screaming, the girl looked up at her apologising repeatedly while she urinated on the office floor. We didn’t see the peeing girl again. I imagine she had to skip town after that incident.
Probably the number one most surreal thing I have ever witnessed in my time as a bartender was a recurring event we called, the poo cup incident. In my second year as a Bartender, I was still working at a venue where every Sunday we had $4 basics. The students would come from far and wide to get completely trollied. One night after everyone had been evacuated, the toilets were being checked for any remaining patrons. In the males bathroom, perched precariously on the hand-dryer was a schooner of human poo just waiting for someone to find it. The next week, the same thing happened. Same place, same sized cup, presumably, same person’s poo. This went on for weeks. One night we found the poo cup in the corner of the room we used as a dance floor. There were so many questions; Who was the poo cup bandit? Why in god’s name why? How did no one notice a dude carrying a cup of poo across the dance floor? These are questions we will never have the answer to. After about four weeks of poo cup, the strange phenomenon stopped as suddenly as it began.
So by this stage you’re probably thinking to yourself, Why would anyone stay in such a job? or Why don’t you grow up and get an adult job? To which my answer remains the same, free booze.