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How To Get Barred From The Bar (Or The Wine Shop)

, , , , , | Right | August 3, 2023

I work in a wine shop. Every week, on a chosen day, we put on a shindig for our loyal customers — or at least, the ones that read our weekly email blasts rather than relegating them to the spam folder without a second glance. These shindigs offer a handful of wines to taste, with assorted munchies to pair (all of which can conveniently be purchased right at our shop — surprise, surprise) for… FREE.

Did you feel a cold chill run down YOUR spine?

It’s usually pretty fun. I get to circulate and make sure the plates are chock-full of snacks, help guests find things, take dirty wine glasses, and chat with the customers, who are for the most part older and slightly tipsy after their second two-ounce taste. All winter, it’s been a pretty good gig, but if you’ve ever lived or worked in a tourism-based town, you know that once the weather warms up, get ready for the weirdos to squeeze between the cracks in reality.

They seem average enough — a group of six women out on the town, dressed to the nines in the standard resort-wear costumes of high-waisted black mommy jeans, sparkly belts, and black shirts bedazzled with rhinestones spelling out witticisms such as, “GIMME MARGARITA!” and, “I’M QUEEN B****.” I sense there is trouble a-brewing when they immediately bypass the first station, rolling their eyes and heaving grunts of disgust at the small crowd waiting patiently through the spiel of how the wine-tasting event works. Then, they begin to circle anxiously as they descend on Station #2 where I’m bearing a palmful of clean glasses, hoping to move this along smoothly.

Group Leader: “How’s this wine-tasting thing work? I’m assuming we have to pay?”

She curls her lip at me as I try to shove a glass into her hand, living up to her T-shirt’s slogan of, “You want money, I’m guessing?”

Me: “No, ma’am, it’s completely free.”

I’m smiling despite the daiquiri-scented wind she’s blowing into my face with every disgruntled breath. She’s already had a few, and I’m not yet certain I can refuse them service on the grounds of being drunk. I launch, again, into the spiel of how things work, trying not to bang my head on the wall as they obviously ignored me entirely the first time.

Me: “Now, I would like to give you your glasses since you seem to have missed our first station. It’s right over there, next to the door where you entered. We’d just hate for you to miss out!”

Since the line has thinned a bit, they begrudgingly go back to the first station, and I move along my merry way, thinking nothing of it…

Until I pass through the room and find that they have commandeered the table where the plates of food are and pulled up chairs around it, successfully blocking it off from the other guests, and are having a grand old time, laughing and talking quite boisterously.

My poor customers (mostly older, remember) are clearly struggling to find a polite way to resolve this situation. As I squeeze by [Group Leader], she imperiously hoists her empty wine glass and addresses me.

Group Leader: “AHEM. You, girl. Get me a refill on the first wine — the white one.”

“Me, girl? You Botoxia, Queen of Jungle,” I think bitterly to myself.

I politely take her empty wine glass, smile sweetly, and take it to the dish room with the rest of the dirty glasses I wam as carrying. On my way through, I whisper to my boss — a person not to cross if there ever was one — that there might be a situation brewing.

I make it back just in time to see the fireworks go up.

Group Leader: “I’ve been waiting and waiting for your girl to come back with my refill. This is absurd! She passed through five minutes ago, and— THERE SHE IS! You, girl!”

I sidle up next to [Boss] and grin toothily.

Me: “Oh, I guess I was confused. I took your glass to be washed. You see, this isn’t a restaurant but a wine shop. As I explained to you, twice now, this is a wine tasting event, not a free alcohol bonanza. There won’t be any refills, and since you are blocking the rest of our guests, I think you are done.”

[Boss] crosses her arms over her chest, smiling wickedly at the gathered women, at least half of whom have the good grace to look embarrassed.

Boss: “You’re right, hon… They are done.” 

She leans in, using her silkiest voice — the one that lets you know that there is Trouble.

Boss: “Why don’t we let the rest of the guests have a shot at the snacks now, ladies?”

After they retreat, red-faced, I turn to [Boss] and give her an exuberant high-five.

She returns it and remarks:

Boss: “I think that’s some business we can definitely do without. If they come back next week, it’s your turn to throw them out. In fact, I give you full authority to tell them that they’re barred.”

They Came For Wine And To Whine

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: NaynaRawks | April 29, 2023

Basically, my job is to conduct wine tastings. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis, and we close at 9:00 pm every single night.

One Friday, I got a wine tasting that I’m still bewildered over. They came to my bar at 9:00 pm on the DOT. It was a lady, her husband, and a friend of theirs, and they said they were there to do a wine tasting.

Me: “We close at 9:00, and I technically shouldn’t be taking wine tastings anymore.”

This grown-a** woman proceeded to fold her arms into a pouting motion and tell me in a whiny voice:

Woman: “We have been waiting for a spot to open up for a while! This is so unfair!”

Mind you, the spot they chose had been open for at least ten minutes. This lady continues to audibly pout at my counter, and for some reason, I decided to feed the troll.

Me: “The last pour is at 9:30, so I could do the tasting, but it might feel a little bit rushed.”

Woman: “That’s okay! We’re not going to take long.”

I had another tasting that had started about twenty minutes earlier right next to them, and they were taking their time. They were a very nice couple, very easygoing, and I was going through my wine coolers in front of them while I was finishing their tasting and putting aside the wines I needed to dump out. I was pouring everyone their samples, and sometimes I would get to the end of the bottle and pour slightly more, or sometimes I wasn’t honestly measuring my pours as much as I should have because honestly, my brain was fried since I was at the end of a double shift.

Well, two pours in for the late group, the man from the group of three waved me over to him. He pointed to the couple.

Man: “Why are they getting heavier pours than we are?”

There was barely any difference — maybe the width of a coin more? And I told him how much we were SUPPOSED to be pouring and showed him that I was, in fact, technically over-pouring everyone. I explained that I had just worked a ten-hour shift and was only trying to get everyone’s samples quickly.

Man: “Well, you’d better fix my pour here and make it match theirs!”

And he pointed into his glass. I was dumbfounded, and I acquiesced to his demand to avoid conflict, but I went to speak to my coworker in private.

This girl and I are awesome at being service partners. We always have each other’s backs whenever a guest is being rude or makes us uncomfortable. I told her what happened and that it made me uncomfortable (which it did) and asked her to take over the tasting. I told her to tell them I was behind on my side work and that she was taking over to help me catch up, and she happily agreed. [Coworker] and I are actually best friends outside of work, too, so to her, this wasn’t a big ask at all.

When she told them she was taking over the tasting, they immediately responded with, “Oh, thank God,” while rolling their eyes. I didn’t see it happen; I was already minding my business and doing my side work. I finished the other tasting without a hitch, they tipped me okay, and I continued to mind my business.

There was a point when I walked past the group of three. I didn’t say anything to them or anything, but they were well within earshot of [Coworker] when they said, “Hey, look. There goes that b****.”

[Coworker] proceeded to cut their tasting a little bit early and sent them on their way.

I’m still baffled by this behavior. I TOLD them I didn’t have to take them anymore, and they had the audacity to first try to tell me how to do my job and then call me “that b****” when they didn’t want me to take care of them anymore so I got them someone else? I can’t win here.

They’re All Behaving Crackers, Part 2

, , , | Right | December 15, 2022

I am visiting a friend of mine in Napa Valley who works in a well-known tasting room when a group of women (presumably a bachelorette party) walks into the room. One of the women in the group turns to me.

Woman: “It’s so pretty here and so green, but what are all the little trees planted everywhere?”

I look around the room.

Me: “What trees?”

Woman: “All the trees in a row out there? What are they?”

Me: “You mean the vines?”

Woman: “No… those!*Points*

Me: “Those are the vines. This is a vineyard. You know this is a wine-tasting room, right?”

Woman: “Duh, that’s why we’re here! No need to be so rude! Just talking about the trees, God!”

Me: “Where did you think the wine came from?”

Woman: “Don’t they just get it at the store like everyone else?”

They’re All Behaving Crackers

Call In Sick, I’ll Treat You Like You’re Sick

, , , , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: A_Cat_Named_Frank | October 25, 2022

A few years back, I was developing a new vineyard. Due to the nature of the work, you end up going through a few men. I settled on a reasonably good crew of eight for the after-planting work that included a bloke we’ll call “Bobbie”.

When Bobbie started with me, he admitted that he had a past that involved some heavy drug use, but he claimed he was clean for his kids.

His brothers must have had other ideas because he was soon back on the gear (Australian slang for a particular drug), and his work was slipping. Being casual, I don’t mind being flexible with time worked as long as there’s communication, but Bobbie was coming in late, shooting through early, and at times simply not turning up.

One Monday, he didn’t turn up. When I messaged him to find out what was going on, he said something along the lines of:

Bobbie: “Sorry, mate. I’ve got a bit of gastro.”

This was clearly bulls*** given his history; he’d likely been on a bender and woken up at someone else’s place and didn’t know which side of town he was on.

This is where some malicious compliance came in. I had kids at daycare. I knew that once they got crook (Australian slang for illness) they were excluded for several days. Why should work be any different?

I checked the federal government’s health website which recommended exclusion for three days after symptoms passed to ensure the bug wasn’t spread. This was too easy.

Me: “That’s pretty s***. I can’t risk it going through the crew, and with the number of young kids on the farm, I can’t risk it spreading to them. The government recommends three days to let it clear properly, so take the rest of the week to get over it, mate.”

Bobbie’s one-day sickie to get over his hangover had suddenly turned into a week’s lost wages, and he couldn’t argue because, as thick as he was, he knew he was just digging himself a hole.

Amazingly, he seemed to have learned his lesson and didn’t try that bulls*** on me again.

Doesn’t Feel Hard-Pressed About The Press

, , , , , | Right | February 1, 2021

I work at a winery. One pretty neat thing about our location is that we have a wine press from 1723. It was given by the owners of the company, a wealthy Austrian family, to the president when he joined the business. It is very tall, easily over three metres, and made of wood that is so old it has become petrified, meaning it feels like stone. It is, however, still very fragile, being almost 300 years old.

We have a wide variety of people come through, including families with young children, since we are in a tourist area and do also sell things that aren’t wine.

On this particular day, we aren’t very busy and the only people currently in the building are a family of four. The kids are young but old enough to know better. The father is paying for his items: some T-shirts for the kids as well as some wine. As I am about to hand him the card reader, I look up to see his two children climbing on the wine press.

Me: “Okay, your total is—”

I cut off my sentence when I see the kids climbing on the press, directly in my line of sight from my till.

Me: “Sorry, could you please tell your children to get off the wine press?”

He turns and looks at his kids before turning back to me.

Customer: “Why?”

Me: *With disbelief* “Because it’s a wine press and not a jungle gym?”

Customer: “So?”

Me: “It’s 300 years old!”

At this, and possibly the look on my face since I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, he reluctantly told his kids to get down. I finished with his order and he paid and went into the yard where we also sell food.

My manager had been on her way to tell the customer the same thing herself, and neither of us could believe his attitude. We had another issue with that family a little later involving them trying to grill their outside food on our BBQs, something we don’t allow as it’s a health violation. For the record, we do also have a jungle gym outside for kids to play on.