Of all of the jobs I’ve held over the years, one of my favourites was working behind the bar in different pubs and nightclubs. Of course, any job that involves dealing with the British public (particularly when alcohol is involved) is always challenging, but despite it being a physically and mentally exhausting, I absolutely loved it. I loved the staff, the interaction with the customers, the music, the atmosphere, the DJ’s – on a good night it was almost like being paid for a night out with my favourite people.
After a few years 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 who nervously avoided eye contact while attempting to order a triple vodka and coke (which is technically illegal to serve),
- 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 female staff in an attempt to get served quicker,
- The women who would try and chat up both the male and female 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, which we would chase each other around with during moments of boredom)…
It was a truly glamorous job at times.
Fifteen 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. 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 repeatedly told him so 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 middle of the dance floor in the main room
Mr Tits-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 more than obvious. In fact, he never looked anywhere else during the entire process. He was more than capable of making eye contact with his friends, just not with female bar staff.
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.
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: This woman was beautiful and her regular outfit of choice was always a neon Lycra mini-skirt, a bra and a pair of shoes. That was it. I admired her confidence. However, let’s just say that when she bent over it was obvious that underwear had not been taken into consideration when planning her night. She liked to bend over a lot. Funny, but some of my colleagues didn’t seem to mind.
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, ahem, ‘preparing’ themselves. At the tender (and rather naive 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. In fact, he might be my favourite customer ever.
I love my current life, but I sometimes miss the carefree nature of those days. Every single nightclub or pub I ever worked in doesn’t exist anymore (perhaps I jinxed them), but I occasionally wonder where these people are and how they are doing.
I like to think that somewhere, the little Hot Chocolate Man got his marshamallows…