The Nightmare Before Christmas

Back in my late teen years whilst studying (sort of) for my A Levels I had the pleasure of working at River Island by day and a local pub by night during my weekends and school holidays. Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for most people, but when working six 14 hour shifts on the bounce and listening to Mariah Carey for the 37,589th time, some of the festive feeling passes you by.  I mean could I have possibly picked two worse industries to earn my £3.20 an hour?!  

Everyone is kind and sympathises with retail staff for having to put in the extra hours for the late night shopping brigade. Let me assure you though,  this much needed overtime to fund my student existence was a complete doddle compared to having to work in a bar. There is nothing much worse than having to endure a bunch of solicitors running around a pub donning novelty reindeer noses, giddy on Baileys and trying to kiss you under the mistletoe whenever you try and collect glasses from their table. 

The Ship

I may have jacked in the bar work as soon as my study leave came about but those long nights dealing with drunks still haunt me so here is my guide on how to make these underpaid, overworked social-life sacrificing folks lives just a little more bearable this month…

  • Know your order! This is not the time of year to be asking about the bars selection of gins and taking forever to make a decision. No, this is the month for basic house spirits or a pint. Do not ask for a taster of the guest ale – no one has got time for that and we all know you’ll order your usual pint of IPA anyway. And please, please, whatever you do, when the bartender asks you what you want, do not suddenly get a bout of amnesia and forget what everyone ordered and start yelling across the pub to check if Sarah wants slimline or regular tonic? Screw Sarah and her diet, if she didn’t specify, she’ll gets what she’s given. She will only order a massive kebab and cheesy chips on her way home, so what’s a few calories in a mixer between friends?
  • “I’ve got the exact change here, love”. Bar staff really don’t care that you’ve managed to scrape together all your shrapnel. All it means is that they are going to have to count through your coppers whilst listening to you talk of this ‘achievement’ proudly, rather than rounding the cost up and giving them a little tip.
  • Whilst we’re on the subject, make sure you tip!  Spare me the ’I don’t get tips in my workplace just for doing my job’ speech. When you’ve just ordered an 18 round of drinks, leave  a couple quid and don’t be a scrooge – it’s Christmas after all.
  • Oh and another finance issue. Have you ever stood at a manic bar, watched the staff being rushed off their feet, and waited for your 5p change? There’s a special place reserved in hell for you. Also, don’t make a big deal about leaving the 5p (or less) as a tip. It’s really not a tip, it’s an insult.
  • When you’ve ordered 15 drinks, one by one, do not  finish things off with ‘oh and a Guinness too please, sweetheart.” Maybe you genuinely forgot but for the sake of the bartenders blood pressure, just get Barry a pint of mild instead and tell him the Guinness was off.

Jodie Christmas

  • Do not and I can’t reinforce this strongly enough, moan to the staff about the cost of your order. If you think they have any say in the pricing of your WKD Blue, do you really believe that they’d be spending their Friday night enduring your “should have worn a mask and a stripy jumper” gags? No. They would be on the other side of the bar with you buying over priced drinks too.
  • The only thing worse than a recently turned 18 year old getting sassy when being asked for proof of age, are middle the aged men and women who think squawking “Don’t you need to see my ID?” is hilarious. It’s not. As a Christmas gift to hospitality staff everywhere, retire this joke for December, please.
  • Maybe don’t piss in a pint glass and leave it on your table for the glass collector to deal with. You may think no one would ever be this sick, but I have had to pick up the dirtiest of dirty pints and the smell never leaves you.
  • Try not to become an obnoxious angry drunk. Do not refer to staff as “only a barman / barmaid”. You may think of the staff as minimum wage workers, not worthy of your respect, but they have the power to cut off your booze supply for the rest of the night so maybe think twice about being a complete moron hey?
  • When the bartender is yelling at you to drink up and leave, there probably isn’t must hope for a lock in, so don’t ask – no matter how great you think you are.
  • Finally and most importantly, are you familiar with the word ‘please’? You are? Good. How about the popular phrase ‘thank you’? Great stuff. How about trying to use these words when barking your order at the bar staff?

I think that just about covers everything. Have fun party people. Drink, be merry and most importantly, don’t be a nightmare before Christmas.

Oh and bar staff, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Good luck!

Sophie x