Within 48 hours our phones began chiming with joy: A report had been filed with the precinct, and the cops had caught up with dear old John at another neighborhood bar. He is now enjoying his meals in a location that is far less conducive to dining and dashing.
The Sexual Predator
Sometimes even Batman needs saving.
A girlfriend and I had come back from dinner and decided to grab a drink at a bar on 30th where my friend Sean was bartending. We immediately found ourselves in a bad sitcom. Whenever the stool next to us emptied, it was immediately filled with an overly eager, mostly drunk guy spitting half-witty one liners at us. Some of the guys were less entertaining than others, but we chatted politely and then went back to talking to each other without any real hassles.
The last candidate to arrive told us that he was a firefighter and that he liked to ski. We talked, we laughed, but at no point did I shift myself toward him or make any physical contact. "Give me a kiss," he said. I declined. "Come on, give me kiss." Again, I said no. My mouth was halfway through forming the vowel when he grabbed me and mashed his face into mine for an eternity of seconds until suddenly he was flying backwards away from me.
"She said no, man, get the hell out of my bar." Sean had been watching the entire interaction. As soon as it went too far he’d lunged over the bar and served justice.
It’s chilling that online groups like Bartenders Against Sexual Assault or the “Ask For Angela” code even need to exist. But we bartenders are watching and we are listening; we want you to have a great night and get home safe. If we receive word about drunk guys getting too pushy and forcibly making physical contact with women who are explicitly telling them, “No,” then these men are no longer welcome in our bars.
The Bill-Skirting Bros
Even when bartenders are off duty, we’re on duty. And since we don’t wear uniforms, we’re hard to spot. In fact, we might be all around you.
One Tuesday, our little bar suddenly found itself brimming with staff from another local bar celebrating the anniversary of its new-ish establishment, as well as a group from a nearby brewery on a staff outing. To an outsider, it may have looked like chaos with drunk dudes hugging one another and singing along to the iPod, but to us it was absolute sanity. Every bar stool was filled with someone we knew.
As raucous as the industry folk were, they were nothing compared to a group of construction bros who settled in at the bar and started slamming Narragansett tall boys and shots. One of them had ripped his Carhartts and his tush was on display for the entire room to enjoy. Then they started to get really rowdy.
I was running food to the brewers’ table when Mike yelled over his shoulder for me to watch the bar as he dipped out the side door. The construction workers and the Carhartt Coppertone Baby were refusing to pay their tab and had bolted up the block. I should mention that our bar is mostly windows, so for those of us still inside the bar, the entire interaction took place like some version of silent cinema. Mike and our barback Jesse went out to collect payment, and were immediately met with hostility and the threat of bodily harm. Back and forth they went in front of the windows with silent gestures of booze-soaked anger. And then, one by one, the off-duty bartenders and brewers inside set down their beers, got up, and walked outside. Silently and deliberately, no less than 15 able fellows lined up behind my coworkers and, in a moment of beautiful timing (thanks to one covert phone call), a cop car with its lights off slid onto the block and stopped. Credit cards were rapidly produced and bravado deflated. The bros slunk away into the night muttering that we could make them pay but we couldn't make them tip.
Gentlemen, you may not want to tip us, but here's a tip for you: If you're going to be rude and attempt to skirt the law, perhaps you should rethink your privacy settings on social media. Hell hath no imagination like a room full of elated bartenders three drinks into the night who just memorized the names they saw on a few bad guys’ credit cards.
So remember, if you’re a bro who relishes a certain style of "locker room" talk—we’re watching. If you’re a counterfeiter—we’re watching. If you jump your check—we’re watching. And if you’re that purse thief who has been targeting bars from Broadway to 30th Ave, the gal with the pink backpack and red headphones, we’re definitely watching. And it's only a matter of time until you and your accomplice are served up a little justice—Astoria style.