Bar night in Hamtramck.
First off, I love my little bar. I love the hole in the wall feel, I love that fact that everyone drinks Miller Light, or Bud Light, or Miller High Life or Miller MGD (you get the idea), because the domestics are $2.00, and the most exotic drink I’ve had to make is a Cranberry and Absolut – you know, because the patron is getting over a cold and the cranberry is good for him or her.
We do sell Pabst and Milwaukee’s Best for $1.50 and $1.25 respectively. How can you not dig a place like that? The regulars are friendly and they like James Brown on the Jukebox. The walk-ins are scarce (for now, I’m working on that) but when they do wander in they often stay and chat. I’ve only had one couple walk in, complain that we weren’t *live* enough and leave. I tried to strike up a conversation, make merry, everything but the pole dance, but she was determined to be miserable and he ignored the whole situation by staying on the phone.
There are two TVs – one points towards me at the Bar, and one on the upper level where the coin-operated pool table is. The one up is always on a basketball game, though actually watching the game would be impossible for the reason I’m about to explain to you. The lower level TV is generally on the Sci-Fi Channel, because it’s the only channel I know how to get to by heart (channel 54!) and it has enough mindless violence that people generally don’t stick around to talk.
Now – about the upper level and the TV:
I need to put this delicately, because someone might could see this and complain, but we’ll say there’s a regular group that comes in and they like their games of pool. By the time they reach me about eight or nine o’clock, some of them have already tied one on, or the day has been particularly bad, so there is a lot of yelling. I used to really worry, because we’re talking inebriation and wooden sticks, but I’m finally understanding the practical definition of “blowhard.”
Last night’s argument started over whether or not women could play pool – not the constitutional right to play pool, but whether ot not they were as good as men. Drunk men arguing about the opposite sex – I’m as shocked as you are. There was a another woman present (actually playing pool *with* them) and I admire the hell out of her resolve because while the look on her face said she wanted to make them eat chalk she kept silent and quietly wiped the table with their asses.
It was glorious.
Meanwhile, the evening progressed with arguments punctuated by bouts of thoughtful skilled playing, and a man named – oh, let’s call him Bill – Bill spent much time not playing pool and reminding me that I was a fine piece of work and I look a lot like his niece. *shrug* Lascivious is a good word for the look he gave me.
So he wants to buy me food, because I look cold. I will feel better he says. I will be warmer. See, until I get the bands going earlier in the week, the bar is closed Sunday through Wednesday, so cranking the heat when I come in at 6 p.m. means that at 10 p.m. the the lower level is still about 55 degrees. He wants to feed me, perhaps run out and get me a bucket of chicken (god I love the City), and I keep telling him no, because a) I’m not interested, b) I’m not hungry, and c) I’m not interested. This is a tiresome game.
After playing a few more games, he buys a round of beer for himself and another player. $4.00. He asks if I can break a one hundred dollar bill. Of course I can’t. So he tells me he’ll walk to the store to break the bill and pay me. About a half hour later, he still hasn’t left and I ask again about the tab. He claims he paid me – one of these guys, and he’s not very good at it. After I refuse to back down (I’m still good natured about this) he has an epiphany about why he hasn’t paid, and claims he’ll run to the store to break the bill.
We have this conversation twice more, once with my dad in attendance. He never goes to break the bill. Fine. Another patron wants another beer, and so does Bill, but because Bill hasn’t paid for his other beers, I’m not serving him. I said to him, “you can promise me a bucket of chicken but you can’t pay your bar tab? I am so not impressed.” Petulant is a good word for the look he gave me.
When my uncle arrives to close the place down, I tell him about *Bill* and his unbreakable money clip, and he rolls his eyes. This is nothing new. Bill like to flash the green but it’s only for show. Uncle says he’ll take care of it, which means whatever it means. As I leave, I say loudly so the whole bar can hear, “Okay now, Bill – you be sure to pay the man your $4.00 tab.” He looks shocked and denies owing me anything.
I get that over the course of my bartending I’ll run into people who can’t or won’t pay their tab, but $4.00? I’m pretty but I’m not stupid and I hate being played. He goes on my list of people who need to show the green before they get served. They can act however they want with Uncle or my fellow barmaid, but dealing with me just got a whole lot tougher.