I know that we are all fresh from recently joining the War on Haters, our 2013 resolution. Most of our swords are now dipped in red from the blood of Haters, and as we continue this endless struggle, we will move on with pride and dignity, wiping our swords on our pant legs and letting the steel gleam in the afternoon light.
This week we will continue with the theme of pride and dignity, and in honor of such a quest, we have a new guest blogger this week. As any of you who have kept up with The Bartender Knows exploits over the last year and a half, you have come across a character and close friend by the name of Wyatt. Not only is Wyatt legendary for his righteous humor and Gigolo tendencies, his beard even shares some fine repute, making him the first man that both his character and facial hair demands equal fame.
Something y'all might not know about ole Wyatt, and that is his profession. He holds the fine title of Bar Back, a somewhat mysterious and understated position in the bar world. Over the years as a bartender (and yes, I, working up the ranks, have bar-backed a multitude of bars), I have worked with all manner of bar-backing types; drug-addicts, sex fiends, socially inept hipsters, arrogant break dancers, and even a tough lady Bar Back here and there. It does take all kinds, and like bullets in a clip, the Bar Back awaits their fine turn to eventually become a bartender themselves.
So, much like we occasionally hear from Diane, The Bartender's Bartender, allow me to introduce yet another guest blogger.
World, may I introduce Wyatt the Bar Back, in an entry we'll call, The Bar Back's Lament.
Take it away, Wyatt.
Hello there, faithful drinkers.
The time has come for something different.
My name is Wyatt and I'm here to tell you about a different side of spirits, and the establishments in which we imbibe them, not often thought about: the Bar Back.
I know this blog is usually a dumping ground for gripes and sometimes-enlightenment from the self-important beverage slinger himself, but don’t be alarmed; our goal here is to be well-rounded alcoholics. And by its very nature, the Bar Back often gets overlooked.
Not today. I’ma learn you something.
I know. The Bar Back is easy to forget.
He’s behind the scenes.
He seems to have nothing to do with you getting your paws on that drink you’ve been waiting all day for. But you do need him.
We are, in fact, the liaison between you, the customer, and the prima-donna bartender you're trying to get that drink from.
Remember: a happy bartender is a happy drunk!
We carry the heavy shit--that beer you’re swilling had to get there somehow, brah.
We provide a low level of security in your favorite little watering hole. We make sure your glasses are clean, going so far as to remove the tacky lipstick some asshole before you left on it (she was kinda hot though).
We change over the kegs when the taps run dry. We’re often charged with keeping the inventory of them spirits you love so much.
We handle the garbage.
We clean the fucking toilets.
All this for a mere fraction of the tips our rock star bartenders are taking home. And we’re listening to their shitty music the whole night, taking absurd orders at the whim of just about every other employee.
Make no mistake.
It’s a damn demeaning gig sometimes.
Don’t believe me?
Just two months ago, readers, I was working at a particular ‘Parlor’ in Bed-Stuy, near the Marcy projects. The bartender got into an argument with a customer over the nature of a defective drink. This lovely specimen of a bartender responded with such maturity and professionalism that she drunkenly hurled this beverage--glass and all--behind her toward the garbage can.
And guess who was standing there to receive the remnants of this beverage all over him?
Yep. The hardest working man in the bar business.
Needless to say, I no longer work there. After a sixty-one-dollar tipout after a gruesome fourteen-hour New Year’s Eve shift (that’s fucking terrible, by the way) ensured it would be the last time I set foot in this particular ‘Parlor’.
But back to the task at hand.
If you ever see a Bar Back which, again, is somewhat rare because he’s usually bent over the sink washing glasses or in the walk-in smoking a joint and considering the life choices that led him to his current post, please, say hello. You can bet your bottom ginny-tonnie he’s just trying to get through the work night, and it’s gonna be a long one.
You know what’s a great idea?
Ask him for a drink. Bartenders love nothing more than a Bar Back fumbling around in their sacred goddamn temple. Better yet, ask them to get the bartender’s attention, because bartenders are soooo open to suggestions that way.
Yeah dude, I just mopped up some chick’s wine-vomit after she decided to get over her last boyfriend with a bottle of Vitiano. Lemme get you a drink, because it’s really important to me that you enjoy your buzz.
Which brings me to the essence of why bar-backing truly blows: it’s pretty much being left out of the party for twelve hours. While you chat it up with that hammered bird you’re dying to get with (and dropping some pretty sad game in the process; yes, I can hear that) I'm working.
I mean sure, I’m drinking too--you’d better believe it--but have you ever tried to get tight while you’re running up and down a staircase all night? Doesn’t exactly go over very well.
Speaking of which, desperate girls cornering the Bar Back in his little corral at the end of the bar, rambling on incessantly about the creep they’re trying to lose, isn’t exactly a job perk.
I’ll take health insurance instead, thanks.
And when it’s all over and getting home to put a cap on the whole goddamn affair is imminent, someone wants to argue about leaving the bar. It’s 4:30am, dude.
Come to think of it, I gotta get to the bar right now. It’s getting late and piss-splattered toilet seats don’t clean themselves.
I’ll go ahead and assume a night at the bar is in your future. I’d also wager a guess that your establishment of choice was built on the shattered dreams of a Bar Back or two.
Do me a favor and be cool. The Bar Back’s not really having that swell a time.
Sure, he’ll smile and get your water and have a conversation with you, about you; but smoke a bowl or something with the poor bastard. He’s probably contemplating suicide as he cleans out the rinds of lemons and limes from the sink.
One last favor: Try to avoid patronizing bars that rip off bar backs (or any of their employees) for their hard work. Especially cunty ‘Parlors’ near the Marcy Projects. There’s nothing sadder than shitty bar owners taking your hard-earned cash and refusing to share it with the very people who aided in the goddamn transaction.
Adding insult to injury, I ain’t even been laid as a result of bar-backing yet.
Though I sure do feel fucked.
HEY, YOU GONNA SHARE THAT SWEETIE, OR DO YOU WORK AT A CERTAIN 'PARLOR' IN BED-STUY?
I'M NOT THE BARTENDER!
CAN'T WAIT TO GET TO THIS...