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drinks with friends

I have a friend who is a career bartender. I’ve spent many a night in his company at various bars over the years. He takes care of me and I take care of him. But his most recent job is at a new bar/restaurant opened by a mutual friend. The last fewtimes I’ve been there, my bartender friend has continued his generosity—basically he doesn’t charge for drinks and I leave an enormous “tip” before I go. I’m sure he puts some money in the drawer, but probably only enough to pay for the drinks “at cost,” if that much. I never gave this much thought before, but now I’m starting to feel guilty towards our friend, the owner.

Am I as much in the wrong as the bartender? Should I say something to the owner? Would the owner be mad at me as well as at the bartender if he found out what’s going on? These places do have surveillance cameras, and if he looked closely he’d probably catch on. A certain amount of complimentary service is good for business, I know, but where do we draw the line? I hate to ruin a good thing.

—Three Fingers

The Sales Guy says: Welcome to cocktailing in Buffalo. Where literally every bartender is a working partner in the business. It’s everywhere downtown and the beauty is it’s with the grudging consent or knowledge of the owner.

The reason being it is so widespread that in order to stay competitive, everyone has to do it, especially in this economy. One can cross the line taking money from the till, etc., that is grounds for dismissal in any business, but in Buffalo, bars showing a customer a reason to come back…it’s business as usual!

Saying something to your bar-owning buddy might disrupt the the unspoken arrangement. Stay out of it. Besides, it’s three-for-one tonight.

The Practical Cogitator says: I was a bartender for a stretch. When I began, I charged everyone for drinks, all the time. Then one day, the owner told me it was okay to buy a drink once in a while for my friends. This caused me much angst. Who were my friends? The regular patrons were quickly becoming my friends. I had a group of friends before I started bartending. My group of friends was rapidly growing. And what did “once in a while” mean, anyway? These people came into the bar every day! The liquor and beer were not mine to give away. I spent a lot of time thinking about who would get the free drink, and how frequently. I tended bar for about 10 years, I guess I had a pretty fair balance going. If your “friend” is giving drinks away to everyone, then you should probably tell your owner friend. If you’re one of the few lucky recipients, and you’re really feeling guilty, try going into the bar when your “friend” is not working, and pay full price for your bev’s with another bartender, then buy the bar a round, leave a decent tip…and party on, pal.

sleepless nights

For a long time, I had a lot of trouble sleeping at night. I tried everything. I got more exercise, listened to calming recordings of mountain streams, fooled with aroma therapy, drank warm milk—nothing worked. I went to therapy, and was told that I was bottling up my anxieties which would come flooding in at night, causing me to stare blankly into the darkness for hours at night, wide awake. The daily fatigue was affecting my work.

I began drinking a lot, which always knocked me out, but I never felt well rested in the morning. Finally, I went to a doctor who gave me a prescription for a popular sleep aid. It worked. I was sleeping like a rock. But last week, some friends told me I was acting weird when I showed up at a cocktail party, and left without saying goodbye.

I have no recollection of attending the party, but I was puzzled that I woke the next morning in my street clothes, with a bag of 12 Mighty Tacos neatly placed on my nightstand. In my wallet, I found a receipt in my pocket from the New York State Thruway. And a matchbook from a strip club with an illegible phone number that looks like it was written with a lip pencil.

Panicked, I ran outside and found my car safely parked in the garage.

I’m a pretty conservative guy. Never been much of a wild man. Now, my problem is two-fold. On the one hand, I’m terrified that I appear to have done all these out of character things under the influence of a prescription drug. On the other hand, I’m sort of fascinated that I could have such a bizarre adventure—even if I still have absolutely no recollection of it.

Should I stop taking this sleep-aid?

—The Zombie

Platinum Patti says: I don’t care what you do. You still owe me, Yana, Tiffany, and Angelica a total of $1,250 for lap dances, you pig.

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