Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Monday Before Hell Breaks Loose

It's ten minutes until closing time, I'm putting the grenadine away, and in walks a guy in a suit, half-crocked.

Now, here's the thing. All bartenders and servers and line cooks and bussers are irritated by the guy that walks in ten minutes before closing on a slow, slow night. It's really not his fault, and he's surely unaware, but it's always a good idea to show up closer to a half-hour before closing on a weekday. There's nothing more frustrating to a restaurant staff than the couple that walks in, one minute until lock-up, saying "Wow! We just made it!!!"

You have no idea how much it sucks to set your whole line up again. Sure, you say, we shouldn't have started cleaning as early as we did. But, we did, because we foolishly anticipated an early night, and we blame you for coming in late and making us set up our whole damned line again, whether that's fair to you or not.


He coughs before ordering. That's one of the tell-tale signs of someone past their limit. Or, someone with a cold, I suppose. But he slurs when he says, "Stoli and tonic."

I serve him. I ask if he wants to see a menu.

"What's good for dessert?" he asks. I suggest some cannoli to go with his Stoli, only because it rhymes, and I'm tired, and I really want to go home, and I'm relieved he didn't want to see a menu.

He scarfs the Stoli, and the cannoli, and pays in cash, rapidly. No stories about his divorce, or how much money he makes, or how fantastic he is. I'm impressed. Tips well, too. Walks out of the door about five minutes after we've locked them.

I can't remember the last time an end-of-night customer came and went so quickly, and I think it's important that I document the experience. It's a rarity, and he deserves a mention.

I appreciate the calm before the storm. It's the Monday before Thanksgiving, and the bar business is about to blast off. It's good to get a little rest before the holiday debauchery is ablaze.

Sweepin the floors, open up the doors
Yeah, turn on the lights, getting ready for the night
Nobody's romancing, 'cause its too early for dancing
But here comes the music ...

- Jack Johnson, "Rodeo Clowns"