What is it with bartenders today? The local pub I’ve frequented for years is suddenly not the sanctuary it once was. More and more I’ve noticed that among the other regulars, the bartenders are becoming less and less impartial. Used to be you could count on your bartender to have the qualities of a priest, in that you could share your troubles without worrying that he or she would turn around and blab about it to the next person who walks in the door. Now, I’m hearing all these stories about other patrons—people in vulnerable situations—directly from the barkeep. I can only imagine what kinds of things he’s sharing about me. What am I supposed to do? I like my local watering hole, been going there for years, but now I feel like I might as well stay home and drink on my porch. It’s not like I want to find a new place that I’d have to drive to. That was part of the beauty of my routine, that I didn’t have to drive. What can I do?
—Passing the Bar
The Practical Cogitator says: Well, I always had a rule for myself: I had to live within walking distance of a bar, it was a good practice for me, you know, to keep my feet on the ground, and not behind the wheel.
I cannot say, however, that I ever used my bartender/barmaid as a confessional, that my friend, is a tricky one. Seems as though a bartender should have to take an oath of confidentiality, what happens at the bar, stays at the bar. It’s not the bartenders place to repeat the tales of the customers, or their comings and goings, either.
I like my bartender to know what I drink, offer a smile, an ear if I need it, an anecdote here and there to keep the conversation rolling. When my spouse calls looking for me, their answer should invariably be “She just left,” or “Haven’t seen her all day,” also works well for me. I do not want my sodden conversation and silly spouting to become fodder for those that follow me.
If your life is so interesting that the bartenders are talking about you, your comings and goings, and if that makes you uncomfortable, then, I have two bits of advice...one, reign it in pal, and secondly, maybe it is time to move.
I have a friend whose motto is “I had to decide between drinkin’ and driving, and I chose drinking...” so if you’re going to continue to toss ‘em back... make sure you can walk home.
Smart Talk says: Just like trends change, bars change. It may be that you’ve outgrown your neighborhood bar or you’re ready to seek out new adventures (and a new bartender to confide in). Just like your drink order varies with time and age, your bartender may be tired of hearing about peoples problems that never change. Your bartender is probably bored with hearing about the same old sex & relationship problems, family issues, work-related problems, etc. Lets face it: Your story and the guy’s story next to you are probably similar. If you really need to confide in someone, hire a shrink...or see a religious counselor.
It’s a lot healthier
The Piano Man says: I don’t think this applies to ALL bartenders, today, as your query implies. But realize the information stream has widened in recent months (years), and YOUR bartender may have inadvertently been caught up in the cavalier, slipstream attitude that Facebook and Twitter and the like have promoted. Treat bartenders like Facebook: never, EVER write or reveal something you don’t want everyone and their mother (literally!) to hear about. (Especially those latenight, drunken texts that frequent drunks, like yourself, have fallen in love with).
Sigmund Fraud says: Where the heck are you drinking? Some kind of meat-market where they serve shots that taste like Gummi Bears? If you can’t feel secure telling your bartender when he or she is out of line, then I’d take it up with the bar owner. Especially if you’re a regular. I mean, the owner is going to know where the money in the register is coming from. Picture the characters from “Cheers”. Would Sam have risked losing Norm as a customer if Woody had been a gossipy little troublemaker who made things miserable for Dr. Crane and Cliff? No, you can’t let this kind of thing go on. A good local bar is too precious a thing not to fight for.
Ruthless says: You can’t talk about your clientele, except with your co-workers. Then you can say the meanest, nastiest, most undeserved vitriol in the world. Cuz they’re making you work, dammit. Nothing pisses off bartenders, waiters, and waitresses more than customers. They hate you. They pretend to like you, but they really don’t. So this particular bartender either a). is disliked so much by his co-workers that he has no one else to talk to, or b). isn’t pretending any more that he likes the customers. Good thing you are wise to him. I say, really give him something to talk about and decide that’s one bar in which you don’t have to behave yourself at all.
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