Of all of the jobs I’ve held over the years, one of my favourites was working behind the bar in pubs and nightclubs. Any job that involves having to deal with the British public, particularly when alcohol is involved, is always challenging, but despite it being a physically and mentally exhausting job, I loved it. I loved the staff, the interaction with the customers, the music and the atmosphere – it was almost like being paid for a night out.
I found that the same characters appeared in every establishment – the permanently drunk and often abusive regulars who assumed that their regularity commanded special treatment over everyone else, the fighters, the snobs who looked down on the staff because they were in a service job, the business wannabes who were trying to impress their boss by buying expensive rounds whilst loudly guffawing at a poor joke that their colleagues were making, the coin tappers, the ‘oi I’m next’ impatient men in their early 20’s, the underage, the people who became incensed when they were refused service despite the fact that they could barely stand up by themselves, the men who would try and chat up the staff in an attempt to get served quicker, the homeless who would sneak in to use the toilet and would block them with truly enormous poops (requiring a ‘poo stick’ to unblock them)… It was a truly glamorous job at times.
However, ten years since I last stood behind a bar, there are still a few characters that are still memorable.
Miller Man: This guy turned up every Friday night with a different beautiful woman on his arm each week, despite having a face like a badgers arse. He ordered two bottles of Miller, then spent the rest of the evening feeling his date up in the corner. I came to the conclusion that he possessed one of three things: an incredibly charming personality, massive wallet (highly unlikely considering that he only bought two bottles of beer each night) or a massive… ahem… mini Miller Man hiding down below.
Hot Chocolate Man: He was short and stumpy and always ordered a hot chocolate without marshmallows. We didn’t serve marshmallows and told him so – it was a Wetherspoons – but he continued to order the same thing every time he came in. He also happened to be one of the biggest drug dealers in the area.
The Angry Men: A couple of men, who were incensed at being removed, decided to steal a 4×4 from the car park outside and smashed it through the front doors of the nightclub. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the club went into lockdown and we were all moved into the main room in the middle of the dance floor.
Mr Pervert: This man seemed to think that my boobs were trained in pouring pints. It wasn’t uncommon for men to order their drinks whilst staring at my chest, but this guy made it obvious. In fact, he never looked anywhere else during the entire process – he may as well have just shoved his face in between them. I initially thought he may be slightly autistic, but when I saw him making eye contact with his friends, I realised that he was just a perve.
The Eternal Cryer: She would arrive each week looking beautifully made up, she would be smiling and laughing with her friends and obviously in the mood for a good night out. However, every time I saw this woman at the end of the night she was crying – her make-up had run down her face and she was snotting on the shoulder of one of her friends. Clearly she couldn’t handle her alcohol – it made me wonder why she bothered to put make-up on in the first place.
Stan the Eunuch: Stan was my favourite bouncer – he was 6’8″ and despite looking very intimidating (mainly due to the fact that he was built like a brick sh*t house) he was a true gentleman, that is, until he had to remove someone from the club. Stan had balls of steel in both a literal and metaphorical sense – one of his party tricks was feeling no pain when kicked in the nuts. He wasn’t wearing any form of protection (don’t ask me how I know that). I tried it – he didn’t even flinch. I’m convinced he was a eunuch.
The Urinator: One guy at the end of the night seemed to take ages when ordering his drink. I found out later that his delay was caused by the fact that he was busy urinating down the front of the bar and couldn’t multitask by talking at the same time. Classy. I really enjoyed cleaning that up at three in the morning…
Mr E: He arrived every Saturday night and despite being searched on a number of occasions it was clear that he took lots of ecstasy. He spent the entire night every week dancing around like a frog-in-blender (arms and legs everywhere) and sweating profusely, only stopping to down pints of water at a time before returning to the dance floor.
Miss No Knickers: I don’t care what size somebody is, but I always think that it is important to dress for your body type and look classy. This woman was beautiful, but her outfit of choice was a neon Lycra mini-skirt, a bra and a pair of shoes. That was it. Let’s just say that when she bent over it was obvious that she had forgotten to put underwear on, and unfortunately she liked to bend over a lot. One of the greatest things I’ve ever heard came from my colleague, who promptly yelled ‘pull your skirt down, you’re winking at me!’ during one such instance. I almost died laughing.
The Guitar Man: He clearly had mental health issues and walked into the pub regularly with a guitar on his back, usually shouting about something. He couldn’t play the guitar, he just liked to carry it around. I still see him occasionally in Birmingham City Centre. He’s still carrying the guitar and still shouting. It makes me wonder what sort of support he is getting…
The British Chippendales: We hosted them for a performance one night at the club, and at the time I was working in the VIP section where they were ‘preparing’ themselves. At the tender age of 18, I saw far more of those men than anyone who had paid to see them that evening, and I have never looked at an elastic band in the same way again.
Mr Tips: The British are not renowned for their tipping generosity. However, the same guy would order a bottle of Coca-Cola at the end of the night, which cost £1.70 at the time, he would hand me a £20 note, told me to keep the change and walked away. I chased him down on a few occasions to try and give him most of his change back – the usual tip we received was £1.00 a time – but he always insisted that it was fine. I liked him. I liked him a lot.
What about you guys? Do you remember any characters from your places of employment over the years?
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