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She Needs Way More Help Than She Is Able To Provide You

, , , , , , | Right | January 26, 2021

It has been an extremely busy day at our bar, and I finally get the go-ahead to take a twenty-minute break. We don’t have a staff area to eat lunch in, so I settle down at a free table in the beer garden. I’m busy eating and watching videos on my phone (with headphones on) when an older woman at the next table tries to engage me in small talk. I really, really don’t want to expend any more energy on social interaction right now, but I still do my best to stay polite and keep smiling.

She is quite obviously a little drunk but seems harmless enough, and at some point, I manage to excuse myself from the conversation and get back to my lunch. Five minutes later, she starts up again, this time waving her hand in front of my face to get my attention, and noticeably slurring her words.

Customer: “This garden is disgusting! I used to work here and I would never—” *pokes her finger at me* “—NEVER let it get into this state! You should clean it!”

I look around and, yeah, every table has a bunch of glasses and plates on it.

Me: “I am sorry about that. I do agree it’s a bit of a mess right now, as we’ve been so busy. It’s just me and [Coworker] working today, so we haven’t had a chance to do anything other than serve non-stop. As soon as my break is finished, I’m going to go around and tidy up, though.”

Customer: *Louder* “You need to clean it now!”

Me: *As politely as I can* “As I said, I am on my lunch break right now, but I’ll be done in about ten minutes and I promise you the garden will be my first priority when I get back.”

She huffs and goes inside, and I assume she’s gone to bug my coworker, instead. However, the next time I look up, I see her haphazardly collecting plates and glasses from the empty tables around the garden. Resigning myself to ending my break early, I jump up.

Me: “Ma’am, please, let me take those for you!”

At first she won’t let go, and then she shoves the stack at me angrily, nearly spilling the lot, and I take them inside. On my way back out, I hear a loud crash. The woman had gathered another armful of stuff and dropped a plate of coleslaw and two glasses in the doorway. She locks eyes with me and starts shrieking.

Customer: “There’s glass everywhere! It’s dangerous! How could you just leave it here?! Someone’s going to get hurt!”

I get a dustpan and brush and begin cleaning it up as quickly as I can, while she continues drunkenly running around with more glasses, actively trying to step over me while I’m on my hands and knees in the doorway and almost kicking me in the head. Every time she goes past with more stuff, she leans down at me and says, “YOU’RE WELCOME!

I have a reputation for always smiling and being polite to customers, but now my patience is wearing thin.

Me: “Please, madam, please sit down and let me do my job!”

Customer: “You’re not doing it properly!”

The next few minutes are a blur of me scrambling to bring in every plate and glass in the garden before she can reach it.

Things only get worse after I clear the garden. Seeing that there is nothing left for her to clean outside, she marches into the bar and begins to clear tables inside, going so far as to literally snatch plates from other customers while they’re still trying to eat! I try to stop her and she just screams at me. Everyone is staring, and a table of regular customers look like they want to step in, but they aren’t sure what to do.

In desperation, I run to our manager, who instructs me to stay in the kitchen and make desserts while he deals with the situation. By now, I’m on the verge of a panic attack, but after a few minutes of making sundaes, I start to calm down. The manager returns, looking stressed.

Manager: “Okay, no one serve her any more alcohol!”

Me: “She’s still here?! You didn’t ask her to leave?”

Manager: “She’s promised to just sit outside and not drink anymore. Apparently, someone is coming to pick her up. She can have a normal drink, just no alcohol.”

I join [Coworker] back on the bar, and thankfully, the woman is nowhere to be seen, though some other customers tell me she has sat herself on their table outside, and that they’re keeping an eye on her for me. Normality returns for about an hour, and [Coworker] leaves to take her own lunch break, so I’m serving on my own.

Regular: “Uh-oh, the devil woman is back.”

I turn my head, and there she is, calmly waiting her turn to be served. I swallow my anxiety and try to act normally.

Me: “Hello, what can I get for you?”

Customer: *Slurring* “I want a pint of [Cider].”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, my manager has said we’re not to serve you any more alcohol today. I’ll be happy to get you anything else you may like, such as coffee or any of our sodas, but I can’t—”

Customer:Who said that? What manager?! What are you talking about? You bring your ‘manager’—” *air quotes* “—out here right now!”

I gladly fetch him, and the woman becomes even more abusive when he repeats that we will not serve her alcohol. Finally, he asks her to leave. She refuses and continues to stand at the end of the bar, ranting and causing a scene. The bar is still packed with people waiting to be served, so I do my best to just let my manager deal with it and continue serving. This seems to make her even madder, and she comes marching back behind the bar, getting right in my face, pointing, and screaming abuse. I genuinely fear that she’s about to hit me, and I freeze with my hands up defensively. The next thing I remember, my manager has put himself between us.

Manager: “Madam, if you do not leave the premises, I will call the police and they will make you leave.”

She retreats back to the other side of the bar but no further.

Customer: “Call them! Go ahead! I’m friends with all the police around here; they know me. Go ahead and call them! You’re all useless! Useless! You’re all s***! And you!*Points at my manager* “YOU’RE A [GAY SLUR]!”

My manager is a stunningly handsome, very effeminate gay man with buckets and buckets of sass. At this point, he is in the middle of calling the police, but he freezes at her insult. With perfect dramatic flair, he very slowly turns around, eyes narrowed, and fires back.

Manager: “And you are a horrible, homophobic old witch who is now banned for liiiiiife!

The nearby table of regulars who have been watching with growing excitement all go, “Ooohhh!” like school children, while the woman’s face crumples into something like confusion and fear.

Customer: “You can’t ban me. This is where I live! This is my home!”

At this point, my coworker comes back from her break. The woman sees her and seems to latch onto her in desperation.

Customer: “You! You know me! You know who I am! They can’t do this to me! I helped you!”

[Coworker] glanced at us in confusion. [Manager] made a subtle “get her out of here” motion, and [Coworker] was able to take the woman by the arm and walk her out, back into the garden. She still refused to leave the premises, so the police were still called, but all the venom had drained out of her, and she seemed content to sit and wait for them, seemingly convinced that they’d take her side in all this.

When the police arrived, they took copies of our CCTV, took statements from my manager and me, and arrested the woman for harassment and drunk and disorderly behaviour. The police called us the next day to let us know that they had had to keep her in the cells overnight, and that even after sobering up, she continued to deny everything, going so far as to claim she was never even here, despite all the evidence to the contrary. We suspect she was so drunk that she thought she was at a different pub entirely, as she has never worked for us and certainly doesn’t live in any of the flats above.

If she had just admitted what had happened, she probably would have just gotten away with a warning. However, as she continued to deny everything, the case ended up going to court. Literally minutes before I was due to be called in to give evidence as a witness, she finally admitted everything and ended up with a fine of over £100. Hopefully, we will never see her again.

This story is part of our Not Always Right Most-Epic Stories roundup!

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