Horror Stories from Behind the Bar

A few stories that stick with me. 

One of my favorite (and when I say favorite I mean worst) memories is of a 50 something year old man. He was talking to a younger man at the bar, I walked past as I was just getting on for the day and hear, 

“If a woman doesnt let you fuck her in the mouth you fuck her in the ass.”

It was still light out, I was JUST getting to work, THIS was the tone for the evening. I turned to him and said,

“I sure hope you don’t have any daughters”. Only to be met with 

“I have 2! Obviously I’d need to fuck you in the ass!”

Sizzling in fury I could feel myself about to snap. I looked around and saw a pool cue in arms reach. I grabbed it and examined it in front of Prince charming.

“Oh yeah, well why don’t I fuck YOU in the ass?!” 

Punctuating my sentence with a slap of the cue across the bar in front of him. A few more choice words were had by both, and the precious moment was cut short by me chasing him out of the bar wielding the pool cue, shouting for all to hear, 

“Im gonna fuck you in the ass! Im gonna fuck you in the ass!”

Another time I was giving a customer his change and he grabbed my hand and pulled me towards him trying to kiss me. He being much larger than I, had much more upper body strength. I wasn’t winning any arm wrestling with him and my confidence in my head butting skills was yet to be established. He pulled me closer and closer as he tried to meet his tongue to my mouth. I panicked. There was nobody in the bar and it was towards the end of a very slow night. No hope for help to come. Luckily my fruit cutting station was near, I grabbed the 12 inch serrated knife and put it to his throat. Pressing it against his jugular, with a wild look in my eye I lock into a stare.

“Let me go or I’ll slit your fucking throat, bitch”

We held our gaze for what felt like hours. Me halfway pulled over the bar, him with a large knife to his throat not letting me go. He wanted to call my bluff, and I knew it. Already this far into the ‘Im a fucking 00 agent’ mindset, I had to hold strong. So I applied more pressure. I was now pushing the tip of the blade into his neck. I could feel the pulse of his heart racing underneath the blade of my knife. Harder and harder until he released. I let out a gasp and dropped the knife, he put his hand to his neck to discover blood. I began shouting at him to get out or I’d call the cops. (My boss always discouraged us from calling the cops because it made the bar look bad. Ha.) He shouted some shit to me and took a final sip of his budweiser, then proceeded to chuck it at our flat screen TV completely destroying it. 

After he left I closed the bar and texted my boss immediately. She was pissed, but we knew the guy. He was a regular that always came in and harassed me. Telling me I looked like a ‘swimsuit illustrated magazine’( yeah, like, the whole magazine? Or the person on it? hehe).  I wanted him 86’ed from the bar for as far as my future with that dump lasted. That wasn’t what happened. Instead, he was scolded, and made to buy a new TV for the bar. It was a small farming town and everyone knew everyone. His family had money and his brother was a sorta known actor. They were never going to get 86’ed no matter what they did. My boss didn’t back me up. I don’t know why I thought she would,  she rarely did. And I stayed there. I stayed there for 4 and a half years. Why? Because I didn’t know any better, but that’s a whole different story all together.

One night I was bartending, only to be left standing in a pool of blood resembling a combat medic with blood soaked rags in both hands. Oh, and I was inside a bank that had had the window busted open with a, get this, human body. So there I was bartending, minding my own business when a local gang came in. It was clear they were looking for someone. Gloves on for fighting and snarls across their face they were not there to have a good time. As they walk in and examine the room I greet them with a smile (be nice to scary people) and ask for their orders. Before anyone can say draught beer they were flagged to leave. Away they went, I dodged a bullet so I thought. Moments later someone runs in from the front yelling, 

“CALL 911! He’s going to die!” 

Before I could register what was said to me I was out the front door looking for what I could not expect. The next door business to the bar was a bank, with bullet proof glass. Somehow the gang had put a person inside the bank, through the glass. I ran over to see it was one of my good regulars Brett, but I could only recognize him from his clothing, his face was half missing. In shock at the amount of blood there was (I have seen plenty blood in bar fights but nothing like this) I ran back into the bar, told everyone to get the fuck out we are closed, grabbed the phone and some bar rags and headed back to the bloodbath. 

On the phone with dispatch the woman had me examine Brett and find out where and what type of injuries he had sustained. You couldn’t tell if he was shot or stabbed or what. Ripping his pants so I may better find the slit. Once located, I wrapped a rag the best I could around his thigh and pushed as hard as I could with the other rags while still on the phone. The question she asked is one that will never leave my mind.

 “Is it squirting or gushing?”

It was his thigh, He had severed his femoral artery. 

“Apply pressure, don’t let go! The ambulance is on its way!”

On the phone, with someone’s life almost literally in my hands, someone walks out of the bar, peers their head into the human sized whole in the bank, and asks for their hat from behind the bar. 

Once he regained consciousness the police bedside in the hospital waiting for him to say what happened, he was on parole. Brett had been in and out of prison for numerous violent offenses but did nothing to deserve what happened to him. From what he remembered and what was corroborated by witnesses and CC surveillance is as follows…

  • Brett walks out front to smoke a cigarette. 
  • The gang walks out of the bar, angry that their target wasn’t there and in their exit from the scene the ‘Jefe’ bumped Brett. 
  • He tells him to get the fuck out of his way and just as fast as you can say what the fuck the rest of the gang picked Brett up and threw him through the bank window. Like a goddamn molotov cocktail.

Brett ended up living fortunately, with a long recovery and multiple reconstructive surgeries. I had to identify the one in charge in a police lineup, received death threats for outing the biggest drug dealer in Podunk Nowhere, and had to have police detail to and from my house for months. 

But hey, I drank the kool-aid (even though technically it was flavor-aid) and I bought into the craziness that was the job. 

Just a glimpse at what is to come. Way, way more.

The feature image is a promo shot for a calendar for the bar the majority of these stories were born in.

F&B

It is hard to think of myself without these two defining factors. I love to eat and I love to drink. But more than that, that’s what I’ve done for the past 18 years. Food and drink have become my identity. Starting as a barista at a hip drive-thru coffee joint that was light years ahead of it’s time for my sleepy hometown, to head sommelier at a luxury B&B, to numerous Michelin star restaurants. I’ve done it all. While in college I bartended 5 nights a week at a local dive bar where you got free booze for dancing on the bar top, and Sunday days at a college pool bar just for the hell of it. It was all I knew.

Over the past 5 years the places I worked switched from bars with live music 4 nights a week, to 14 course tasting menus. I was working my way up finally. If I thought that work was hard before, that all shifted when I started working at my first Michelin restaurant. I couldn’t keep weight on me no matter how much I ate or drank it was so physically demanding. At this level of training and cooperation from your staff you have to be very mentally invested. Your whole life becomes your job. Learning about new foods, techniques, wines, regions, trends. It never stops. You are the elite in your field. Eventually, that restaurant became my identity. On Tuesdays we wore turtlenecks, after work we drank at the same bar, on our days off we hung out with each other. I was seeing them 60 hours a week at work, then countless hours after. You gain a new family.

Then just as quick as you got that family, it can be ripped from you, as it was me. I lost my friends, social life, job, but most important, my identity. This was the first time I realized how deep it ran in my veins. I was living to work. That is when I started to take a deeper look inside.

I love all the artistry of mixology and cooking, and the preciseness of fine dining but one thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am an artist with a taste and love for fine food and drink, not a hospitality specialist with an eye for art. 

Since COVID gave the restaurant industry a mandatory vacation and a combination of things I have decided it is my time to bow out. I am ready to throw the towel in. But with that I feel I will lose a part of my identity. The company I keep will not all be disgruntled FOH and chain smoking BOH. The long nights closing down bars, then really closing them down will be no more. Slip proof shoes will be a thing of the past. But I am ready to let go.

Ready to hang up my bar apron and appreciate the luxury for what it is. I’ve been too close to the inside that I’ve grown tainted. It is a fine art that I am not appreciating for what it is. I do not have the guests best interest in mind all the time and that’s ok. For once, I have mine.