It’s slow season, I guess. Last night I worked with John and Trisha and a new bar back named Tommy and I let John go home, like, four hours early because there was no need for that many of us behind the bar. Trish busied herself in the back going over the stock and organization of our liquor and beer closets with Tommy while I polished some glasses behind the bar, up front. It was barely into dinner service when an elderly man walked in and sat at the bar. Our first customer of the evening, and we’d already been open for two hours.
“Hello sir,” I called to him. “How are you this evening?”
I walked over and made myself available, throwing my polishing rag over my shoulder. Immediately I could tell he was going to be an odd one. He looked at me like I was from outer space and then proceeded to look behind, almost like he was looking through me, at our bar, squinting his eyes.
“Do you not have a menu? I can’t see that far, anymore,” he barked at me.
“Why, yes, of course we do,” I said, chipper, while thinking, why didn’t you just ask for it? I presented him both a food menu and cocktail menu because I was unsure which he needed or wanted to see.
“I don’t need to see that,” he said roughly and shoved the food menu towards me.
He stared down at the cocktail menu for a long time, a whole 30 seconds probably, while I stood in front of him, waiting for a question I knew he would have, wanting to be available, wanting to show that I was patient and happy to help him. But the question never came, so then I thought, maybe he wants his space while he contemplates. I know I wouldn’t want a server or bartender hovering over me, making me feel rushed to choose. So I began to walk away over to the end of the bar to polish more glassware. Then he looked up, “Hey, where ya going?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, sir. Are you ready to order or have any questions?”
“No! Don’t rush me!”
I blinked at him. “Okay, well, I’ll just be right here, sir. Whenever you are ready, okay?”
“Don’t play that game with me, missy,” he said sternly, like I was his granddaughter telling him I was dating an ex-con.
“I’m sorry, sir?”
“I know what you’re doing,” he said and gave me this crazy stare. While I was trying to discern if he was cursing me or having a stroke, Trisha walked up behind me from downstairs with Tommy in tow. She must have sensed the oddness or tenseness of the situation because she looked over at the old man and said, “Are you okay sir?”
“Are you a manager?” He asked, immediately.
“No, sir, I am not, but I can certainly grab someone for you. We’re happy to help if something is wrong.”
“Something IS wrong,” he nearly shouted. The hostess at the host stand looked up from her iPhone, curiously.
“Your sister over there is rude and condescending.”
Trisha looked over at me and I put my hands up and made an expression that said, “I don’t know, I’m innocent.”
Was this guy crazy? Maybe he was homeless and just wandered in off the street? Maybe he was an actor and we were on a prank show?
“Well, I can take care of you, sir.” Trisha walked over to him and walked him through the cocktail menu (which was the page he had been looking at) and then he ordered a beer we happened to be out of, so Trisha suggested one very similar in taste.
“This establishment is the worst service I have ever had,” he muttered as he gathered up his coat and began to haphazardly get off the barstool.
Trisha tried to reel him back in by almost pleading, “I’m sorry, sir! How can we make you happy?” But he left the restaurant nearing breaking our door by pushing it open so hard it bounced off the outside wall. The hostess stared over at us with a face of fear; we looked back at her with faces of boredom and disdain.
Sometimes you just get crazies. You can’t do anything about it. Keeps work interesting, I guess.