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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yes Is The Answer. What's The Question?

Years ago when I embarked upon a "career" in making people happy, I had this really great manager who told me that the answer was always "Yes. What's the question?"

I'll never forget him. At the time I thought my manager was a walking-talking corporate bullshit Successories poster, and I rolled my eyes when he wasn't looking. Know what? I've used his philosophy of service ever since. Probably because he never required us to wear flair.

Tonight I listened to a guest tell me his story, entirely unsolicited while he sipped a cocktail, always turning around to check on his family, almost nervously. He, and his lovely wife and identical-twin daughters, were looking for a Cincinnati experience, a mini-trip involving a visit to a theme park and a Reds game and maybe the Zoo or Newport Aquarium.

They were on vacation.

They'd driven down from Detroit, and he told me that in only weeks, his job was being shipped overseas and this was a "last hurrah" moment for him and his family. He wanted to show them the kind of vacation so many of us took for granted when we were growing up. A little hotel, a few nights swimming in the pool, a day or two at the expensive theme park. When I look back on my days as a child, I thought this was the American Dream, my birthright. And I didn't even know it, I just swam and sucked down sodas and hoped to catch a fly ball with my pathetic glove, and upon return to the hotel, headed for the game room, begging my parents for tokens so I could play skeeball. It's called "being a kid, in America."

Something clicked in me tonight, as I listened to his story and strived to give him better service and make his family feel like.. well, as if I were welcoming them into my own home, honestly.

I'm worried about us, and I hope so much that we won't slip into the chilly comfort of snark and despair. If you come across a sweet family, especially one with an out-of-state license plate, please say hello and engage them for a moment. Listen to them. We're all in this together, whether we like it or not.

I've learned more about our country and my countrymen in the past few months than I could have ever learned in years of Political Science and Psychology and Hospitality courses.

The key is to just listen. And hug. And serve. And probably hug again.

And say, "Yes." No matter what the question.

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I'll give a little bit of my love to you
There's so much that we need to share
So send a smile and show you care
I'll give a little bit
I'll give a little bit of my life for you
So give a little bit
Give a little bit of your time to me
See the man with the lonely eyes
Take his hand, you'll be surprised

- Supertramp, "Give A Little Bit"

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Good Gawd, People Are Getting Cheap.

So, I've been away from the Tavern-wenching for a little while, and it's been more than fun to jump back into the world of mixing tins and sticky floors. I've not really been away from "the business," I've just been exploring another aspect of it. But I missed the front lines, and found a way to work it back in without sacrificing my career path, and I'm just thrilled to be mixing it up once again. Ha ha! I said 'career.' Ha ha ha!!

A few things have changed in the last year, most notably, people have become damned cheap. Gas prices have, like, doubled since the last time I did this kind of work, so it's understandable.

But here's a suggestion that's relevant no matter the time or economic situation: Tipping One Whole Dollar on a $30.00 tab doesn't represent the fact that times are tough out there. It only means you're a cheap-ass who should really consider buying a twelve-pack and spending the night watching American Idol on the Tivo. You can ignore your family in the privacy of your own home, you certainly don't need my help.

I even offered sparkling conversation and talked about Ken Griffey Jr. and avoided politics and everything. That ought to be worth at least another buck, right?

You see me on the street
You always act surprised
You say, how are you, good luck, but you don't mean it
When you know as well as me
You'd rather see me paralyzed
Why don't you just come out once and scream it
Now don't I feel that good

When I see the heartaches you embrace
If I were a master thief perhaps I'd rob them
And though I know you're dissatisfied

With your position and your place
Don't you understand, it's not my problem

- Bob Dylan, "Positively 4th Street"

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Coming soon...

After about a year away from the front lines, I've accepted a summer assignment that will hopefully return me to telling all the stories about bar critters so many of you have enjoyed.

Thanks for sticking with me during my "wenching" absence. Something's up... watch this space.