Category Archives: Milwaukee

Best to Forget

Last weekend I had a wonderfully flamboyant gay man staying at the hotel. Besides having a ridiculously loud and high laugh, he complimented each drink I served him telling his friends repeatedly that he loved me. I loved him too.

Then he suddenly remembered something.

“I can’t believe what I did last night, oh my God,” he said.

“What?”

“Well there was this lady, and she was all about me, and so we were drinking all night and doing shots. I knew I was at my drinking limit but she kept buying more, so I did that one bartender trick? With the water?…”

“I know the one, take a shot, take a drink, spit the shot out,” I said.

“YEAH! So I took the shot and then put the water glass to my mouth and just spit it out. But then SHE thought that HER shot was too harsh, and so she reached for my water to chase it, and she took a sip, and said, ‘there’s something in this water!’ Oh my God, I was dying!”

I scrunched up my nose. “So she drank your shot backwash water?”

He nodded and laughed. “I couldn’t tell her though, no one knew but me.”

“Gross!” We smiled at each other, in on the secret of some woman who was better off not knowing what was in the water she’d had the night before. “I have one for you,” I told the guy.

“Oooh, tell!”

“So one night I served this couple some appetizers right before I closed the kitchen. And they had like, mozzarella sticks and edamame. They killed the motz sticks, but only ate about half their edamame. And instead of using the extra bowl for their garbage, they were just putting the chewed pods back onto the same plate as the untouched beans. Then they left and this drunk dude came in and sat beside where they had been. He asked me if the kitchen was open, and I told him it wasn’t. I went to grab him some delivery menus, and when I came back to the bar, he was eating from their leftover edamame dish, only he couldn’t distinguish their chewed garbage from the good food, so everything went into his mouth!”

The guy laughed loudly, and I laughed at his laugh.

When I left work that day I kept thinking about things that only drunk people do. The worst I’d ever seen happened on New Year’s Eve one year. I was stuck cocktail waitressing on this horrendous night. And by 5 a.m. I was cranky, tired, and ready for all the drunken stragglers to go home. The crowd had thinned and the bar would be closed soon. I cleaned the empty tables in the bar, dumping all half-drunk drinks into one glass, and taking all the empties to the bar.

Now, this was back in the days when smoking was still legal in bars. I was used to cleaning gum, spit, ash and butts out of ashtrays, and I was used to emptying PBR cans and finding floating cigarettes inside. I worked quickly, dumping, pouring, and tossing out garbage, trying to clean the post-party evidence as fast as I could.

One girl wandered over, wearing a shiny and short dress. I ignored her and began wiping down the tables that I’d successfully cleared off. All of a sudden, I heard her coughing. I walked to her side, and asked, “You okay?”

She fluttered her hand in front of her mouth. “My red bull vodka tastes like cigarettes.”

I looked at what she was holding and instantly felt like vomiting.  She had left her friends to cross the empty area of the bar and pick up my swill compilation cup. The contents of this plastic cup included some, if not all of the following: beer, water, ice, vodka, coke, rum, cigarette butts, ash, and small string of phlegm.

I pulled the cup from her weak grip and threw it away. Before I could explain to her what a horrible mistake she’d made, she had wandered off back to where she’d come from, to dance wobbly in her stilettos with her equally drunk friends.

I shrugged and kept cleaning. It was probably better she didn’t know anyway. When it comes to other people’s leftovers and germs, it’s always best to forget.

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Tales from Behind the Bar (Part 1)

I’ve been in the service industry for ten years.  I have to admit, I get cheekeir and less patient as the years go on.  The things that I used to let slide I speak up against now.  And while it’s a good job most of the time (or why else would I do it?), there are still moments that shock me, fluster me, and surprise me.  Here’s just a handful of stores from my side of the bar. Continue reading

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The Tale of the Tip Jar Thief

           I spent my college years working at a local sandwich shop.  It was our store policy to give free sandwiches to any on duty police officers who came in.  Being fairly fresh out of high school, I was still of the mindset that cops were out to get all the wrong people, profiling shaggy-haired stoner-looking kids.  I held my dreadlocked-head high and didn’t smile a bit as I handed them their free subs.

            I complained to my managers after store hours.  If we were giving sandwiches out to cops, why not also give them to fire-fighters, or teachers, or doctors?  I was told that the cops were out protecting us.  Secretly I suspected we gave sandwiches out so that the cops looked the other way when our delivery drivers sped past.  Continue reading

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When to Play Dumb

Lately I’ve been amusing myself by playing dumb with strangers.  It first occurred in the elevator in my apartment building.  There was one man in alone in the elevator when I got in, and the air was thick with the distinct scent of marijuana.

I waited a few seconds before I spoke, then I looked at him and said, “Isn’t it weird how sometimes this elevator really smells like weed and sometimes it doesn’t?”

He looked at me, startled.  Possibly he was debating if I was really that stupid, or possibly I sent him into a fit of paranoia.  I smiled sweetly as we reached the first floor, and then I walked out. Continue reading

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Tampon Flinging Friday

I was biking to the grocery store on a Friday evening and I was feeling old.  It was the second weekend in a row that I’d been scheduled to bartend the morning shifts at work.  So it was also the second Friday night in a row that I was staying in.  Last Friday I had watched a movie and then spent two hours scrubbing the floors in my apartment.  This Friday I was making chili.  And though I told myself I was staying in on a Friday because of my early Saturday shift, I also knew that several years ago nothing would have held me down on a free weekend night, and that’s why I was feeling old. Continue reading

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The Thing About Clowns

I despised clowns years before I knew it was a common phobia.  I blame the start of this hatred on the movie “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.”  When I was a kid, I lived in a house where cooked carrots were considered candy and I had to eat my crust.  My best friend Colleen’s house had unlimited TV, which was forbidden in my home, as well as white bread and sugary cereal.  It was here that I first got to watch R-rated movies.

Colleen saw the movie “It,” and told me how scary it was.  I was excited to see something that would certainly be prohibited at home.  “Before you see this, I have a different movie we should watch,” Colleen told me.  “If you can handle ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space, then we’ll watch ‘It.’” Continue reading

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Unpacking Time

Moving sucks.  The only thing worse than categorizing all your belongings and carefully boxing them up, is unpacking boxes where half the items suddenly qualify as trash.

My recent unpacking has been more surprising than any from moves of my past.  I had boxed up everything in my apartment in the fall of 2009 and moved to Korea with two suitcases full of clothes.  After teaching there for two years, I moved home.  My then-boyfriend was now my fiancé, and we found a big apartment to settle into together.

Unpacking together, we regularly shook our heads at the little items that the other person owned.  “Can I put this in the garbage pile?” I asked Kevin, holding up his Darth Vader helmet.

“Absolutely not.  That thing is awesome,” he said.

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