I’ve been giving you a rolling commentary on the summer of 2014 based on everything I’ve seen and heard from my front row seat at the buffoon parade. And by that of course I mean standing behind the bar. I’ve also been giving you a running tutorial on how not to be hated by your bartender or server. Consider it a public service announcement. If I can save but one soul, then it’s all worth it. If any of these little pearls I drop hit close to home, don’t take it personally. Simply view it as constructive criticism and make the necessary adjustments.

This week I’m going to switch it up a bit and start off with an open letter I had written in another forum earlier this season based on something that happened during the Alcoholics Anonymous weekend. Just to make it fun, see if you can count everything about this that is oxymoronic. Obviously, I don’t really know to whom I’m addressing this, but here is the letter I wrote.

Dear Ronnie M.,

I have no idea who you are, but I just wanted to offer you my congratulations on your new found sobriety. I couldn’t help but notice from your clever artwork, and your less than “anonymous” message that you are just four days shy of your 30 day chip. That’s quite an achievement and something to be proud of. I’m a bit befuddled about something that I hope you can clear up for me. Having never been in the program myself, I’m curious as to which of the twelve steps instructs you to announce your progress by writing it in graffiti with a black Sharpie on the men’s room wall of a BAR while in town for an A.A. convention. However, when you get to the step where you make amends with people you have wronged or harmed, you can put me on that list. This is because at 3:00 a.m., rather than being home with my sleeping wife and children, I was in a bathroom stall with cleaning chemicals and a scrub pad trying to remove your stupidity from the wall. I wish you the best of luck on both your sobriety, and that whole dumbass thing. Something tells me you’re going to need it.


Bartender Anonymous

I’m relatively certain that bar room graffiti artists are not the caliber of people reading this column, so I fear he’ll never get this message. There was a post script, but in the interest of decorum I opted to leave it out. Good luck Ronnie, and I mean that sincerely.

I originally had other plans for the remainder of this week’s piece, but writing and posting that letter was fun and felt great. So now I’m going to write another open-ended letter to someone of equal intellectual prowess whom I’m sure will never get to read it.

Now that we tragically live in a generation with so many review websites, people are reticent to trust their own experiences for judgment, yet quick to allow someone with the sign in name trailorparkbob dictate where they dine while on vacation. I didn’t realize until just recently how many people actually look at these sites.

The following is my letter of rebuttal to a reviewer from earlier this season. The night in question had a very unique set of circumstances so I knew that it was me he was referring to.

Dear Robert M. of Reston Virginia,

I just read a review you wrote for a website, and I take issue with a few of your details. The night in question carried with it a very unique set of circumstances, so I remember it vividly. I’m not sure who your server was that night so I’m going to skip over that part, but there were some things you said in your review that were a bit careless, reckless, and just plain untrue. These are the kind of mistakes that can cost decent people their careers, and a good business their reputation. Also you could have an ill advised and poorly worded vent session. I’ll only address the portions of your review directed specifically at me which will be more than ample to destroy any credibility you may have. First, you described me as “the manager wearing a suit and tie”. I was actually the bartender, and it was an APRON, not a suit. I can understand your confusion. You were right about the fact that I had a tie on however. It was the very same tie that your server and every other front of the house employee were wearing. You were accurate about the fact that I was behind the line helping the kitchen for a spell. We were down a man that night because one of the cooks had gone to the hospital. I’m sure you didn’t know that though. I had a nearly empty bar when I noticed the kitchen getting hit hard. I realized that I would be serving more of a purpose in a busy kitchen than behind an empty bar. If need be, the servers could make their own drinks. I, having a culinary degree, a hotel and restaurant management degree, a chef certification from the American Culinary Federation, and 32 years of restaurant experience felt I was qualified to go help out in the back of the house for a little while. Had I not, your overall dining experience more than likely would have been much worse than it turned out to be. I can only imagine how that review would have read. You went on to say that later you “saw the same manager behind the bar serving drinks”. Again, that was me, the bartender now back at my own post once the kitchen was caught up. This next line is where your already borderline credible review completely derails and crashes full speed into the town of insaneville. The following statement granted you a place in the internet stupidity hall of fame; “I saw the same manager behind the bar helping himself to some vodka straight out of the bottle. He did not think anyone was looking.” Are you serious?!! Your keen observations and distinct powers of perception couldn’t distinguish between a suit and an apron, and now we’re all expected to believe that you can read the print on a bottle from 60 feet away in a dimly lit dining room? How could you possibly write that and not immediately think; “yeah, that’s just insane and no one will believe me”, and then delete it like a rationally thinking human being. In what parallel dimension would I actually pick up a vodka bottle at 9:00 P.M. standing in plain view behind the bar in the middle of a crowded restaurant and start chugging out of it? In all of my years of restaurant work, I’ve never been much of a soda or juice guy, so I drink water. Lots and lots of water. That being said, I keep at least one liter bottle of water in each of my ice bins behind the bar. I will drink from these bottles many times throughout the course of my shifts. I’ve been doing this for several years, and there are probably a few hundred thousand of my customers who can attest to that. And yet it takes only one complete idiot who can’t tell the difference between a vodka bottle and a water bottle to post a ridiculous claim for the entire world to see. You sir should be ashamed of yourself. I wonder, would you be as quick to write a public apology on the site to me for your mistake as you were to make that insane accusation? My guess is no. Especially since throughout your review you referred to me as “the manager”, and were apparently close enough to me to read the label on my beverage, yet at no time did you ask to speak to me or anyone else about all of your complaints. You strike me as one of those people who have an opinion about everything, but are so fearful of potential confrontation that you’d much rather cower in the safety of your own domicile and write an anonymous review than actually have to look someone in the eye and risk having to explain yourself.


Syd Nichols

Thanks for playing along everyone.

Until next week.