Saturday, March 12, 2011
Breakups Make For Awkward Bar Moments
Breaking up with someone is hard enough to do in the privacy of your own home. So why would someone ever want to do it at a public place like a restaurant or bar? Besides the fact that its embarrassing behavior on the feuding couple's part, it puts the people serving the pair in an uncomfortable spot. If a couple is in the midst of a heated argument, when is it really the right time to ask if they want another round or if they're ready to order dinner?
One of my servers had a couple sitting in her section that had come into the restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. The woman had arranged ahead of time for the server to have a chilled bottle of champagne waiting on their table. All the man had to do was show up, smile, drink the champagne with his partner and enjoy a nice, steak dinner. According to server, only after fifteen minutes of sitting at the table, they got into an argument and were requesting the food they had ordered to be doggy-bagged and the bottle of wine they ordered to be corked.
Watching a breakup is almost as uncomfortable as being part of the breakup. At least if you're a server, you can excuse yourself from the table and watch from afar to gauge when a good time to approach the table would be. As a bartender, you have nowhere to go, giving you front row tickets to Heartbreak Hotel, even if you didn't want to catch the show. All you can do is polish glasses and wipe down the bar, hoping that one of heated parties will be kind enough to close out their tab and take the fight somewhere else.
I'll never forget the time I witnessed a couple breakup at my bar. A woman had come into the restaurant and sat at the bar by herself. I poured her a glass of wine and asked if she would be dining at the bar. She told me that she was a half-hour early for her reservation and was waiting for her dinner date. Forty-five minutes and three glasses of wine later, the woman's date walked through the door. Before he could have a seat at the bar and set his stuff down, the woman began yelling at him for being late. Awkward. Especially since these were the only two people I had at the bar.
At first, I thought the woman was overacting. The man was technically only 15 minutes late for the dinner reservation and she was early. From what I could gather from the argument, this was not the first time the man had been late. Apparently this would be his last because as soon as she finished saying her piece, she asked me to close out her check and then left the restaurant in a huff. The guy paced in the bar area a couple of times before leaving the restaurant himself.
The next time you foresee a breakup in your future, please pay special attention to your surroundings. Bartenders and servers have enough crap to deal with from the dining public already. The last thing they should have to deal with is playing referee in a love spat. If there's no way around making a scene and having the breakup in the middle of a bar or restaurant, then the LEAST you can do is leave a 20% tip.
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Talk about awkward! I once got in an argument at a silent Italian restaurant with two other couples sitting in small candle-lit tables. Well, the woman I was with starting making a scene by yelling and complaining while I just sat there. I didn't stop to think about how the waiter must have felt.
Ive experienced situations very much like this. Another of my favorite awkward situations to witness from behind the bar is "I just had a horrible tragedy. So lets go to our favorite watering hole to boo-hoo and sling snot!" Nothing like trying to divert the attention of the good time happy hour crowd away from the dude crying over his mother having cancer.
Yeah, that's uncomfortable.
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