"Had a guy come in as soon as we opened at 11 am, he ordered a double whiskey straight. Downed it. Same again. He then said he cheated on his wife last night after 30 odd years of marriage, and when he woke up with the mistress, she was dead. He had one more drink, then left in tears."
"A woman confessed to me that she and her husband were on vacation to rekindle their relationship. She told me how they tried tons of new things in the bedroom, like cuckoldry and pegging. She then told me about two of her affairs, one of which was with the man she had the cuckold sex with. You could tell by the way she talked that she really loved him, but there's just a huge wedge between them, and that was the saddest part for me.
I felt bad every time I saw them that week."
"One guy had just come from watching a funeral from afar (he wasn't invited). He confessed to me that his job was to 'hurt people for money.'
A few weeks ago, he had gone round to the wrong address and seriously injured the wrong man. Later, when he found out his mistake and the guy had been released from hospital, he decided it was a matter of honor to go back to the same address and apologize.
The address was a fourth floor apartment. When the door opened, the victim was so terrified at seeing his former attacker there again that he ran through the flat and jumped out the rear window.
He fell badly, hit his head and died later in hospital.
The guy at the bar was getting drunk, and just then realized that he had caused the death of this person for no reason.
This was in Brentford, London, UK."
"Guy came in, proceeded to have two drinks before it was time to close up shop.
Homeboy was sitting at the bar, prattling away to my coworker about something incomprehensible while I was down in the dining room mopping the floor. A lot of the time there's one guest left that's either kind of cool or too drunk to leave safely on his own, so we usually let them stick around for a bit while we get things back in working order for the following day.
Coworker had her back turned and as I was walking up the ramp to the bar from the dining room, I noticed this guy's forehead was bleeding. Not just like, 'Oh I bumped my head,' this guy had freaking fallen over and gashed his head on the foot rail in front of the bar.
The moment I point this out, he immediately began weeping about how he has this life threatening cancer and that his wife would kill him for being out and drinking on his meds, which explained why he was so hammered after only two drinks.
The whole time, I felt nothing but pity for this poor guy, drinking away his troubles as a 40-year-old in a college bar because he was going to die within a year."
"I had a regular who was from Ireland. One time, he confessed to me that as teenagers, he and his friends slipped a tab of acid into a regular drunk's beer at the local pub, then hung around to watch him literally lose his mind. He still seemed to think it was hilarious."
"I've been a bartender for 10+ years now, at all different kinds of spots. For some reason, the thread that continues to wind its way through my career is women telling me about the experiences when they've been sexually assaulted. I've had three or four women tell me, at different levels of detail, about their experience, usually with very little context or forewarning.
I'm not gonna lie, it can be tough to hear that kind of stuff. Then again, if someone is telling a perfect stranger (and they always have been), then it's pretty clear they need SOMEBODY to talk to. I usually just try to listen intently and not interrupt.
However, the experience I remember most vividly also happened the most recently. At the bar I work at now, a young woman came in alone for a drink. She'd been in before once or twice, but that night she seemed enthusiastically friendly. She hung out until closing, and a friend of mine who was at the bar told me to get her number, she seemed really into me.
We were the only ones in there and she starts off with the, 'So since you're a bartender, people must tell you all sorts of things about themselves.' I've heard this before, and it's usually a subtle clue that they have something they want to say.
She proceeds to tell me that she had falsely accused a man of assault, and he got sent to prison for a few years (has since been released). Her story, as best I can remember it, was that she was only 11 or 12 years old. Her older sister, around 19 or 20 at the time, was trying to become a professional singer. Her manager was apparently a real sleazebag, and didn't follow through on some part of his agreement and ended up dropping the older sister. In order to get back at him, she tells her younger sister (my client at the bar that night) that she should say he assaulted her because assaulting a child is that much more sinister. Since her older sister is of course her hero, she agrees to go along with it. They cook up a story, she testifies and sends the guy away.
This is probably ten years later now, she's in her early 20s, and she's devastated. She hadn't really comprehended the magnitude of what she'd done when she was 12. She knows now she'd been manipulated at a vulnerable age by someone who ostensibly was supposed to protect her, but that didn't help ease any of the guilt she felt. She spent the next hour or so crying at the bar, unable or unwilling to accept her own life story. This may have been the first time she'd told anyone.
Most stories I hear, I go, 'Huh, that's something,' and go on about my day. This one stuck with me and I've told some close friends in the hopes of processing it because that's a pretty big one to take on."
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"Many years ago, I had an airport cop come in and, as he got progressively drunker, he told me about his lucrative part-time job. He was paid an absurd amount of money to visit a certain arriving aircraft, seek out certain baggage handlers, and put suitcases full of drugs in his patrol car, which he'd transfer to his private vehicle at the end of his shift, and deliver to his employers."
"Bit of a set up here, but back when I was 18, I worked in this upscale place where the owner's friends would come in a lot and spend hours there drinking and having fun. The owner was notoriously horrible to all his employees and his friends knew this better than anyone else, but he was a multimillionaire, so they just turned the other way. It was uncommon for anyone to wait tables there for longer than 6 months, he was so terrible. So if there was someone there for longer, the owner's friends really tried to take care of them by requesting the person to wait on them and then tip them really well.
I had worked for him for about 9 months when four of his buddies come in. I was trained at this point to keep a pretty good poker face, mainly because you'd have the owner flip out on you in the back and still have to keep working without showing you were upset. This night, they shut the place down (about midnight) and were still drinking. The owner tells me if I stay, he'll give me $100 to take care of them since I'd be serving them food and drinks still, so I stick around.
It's about 3 am when one of his buddies starts telling me about this road trip he's taking his son on. We'll call him #1. They're all pretty buzzed, so one of the others (#2) says something along the lines of, 'You're a good father,' and I agree with him.
#1 looks at me and says, 'Thanks, I try. It's tough, though, raising a kid.'
My boss then blurts out, 'Especially when it's not your kid, right?'
The table went dead silent and my jaw dropped. I gathered from everyone's expressions that this was not uncommon knowledge, but definitely not something they spoke about, ever. #1 got a little teary eyed, quietly got up and left. I've never hated my boss more than in that moment.
My boss paid me twice the amount he'd promised me to keep that secret quiet. The next time #1 came in and saw I wasn't going to say anything either, and that I wouldn't treat him any differently, he tipped me $350.
I've since moved, but I still go see #1 at his shop whenever I go back home just to say hi because a guy carrying that kind of secret and not letting it stop him from being a good dad deserves respect. My boss has since died and I hope there's a demon face freaking him out right now."
"A few years ago I had a guy in my bar being REALLY homophobic, talking trash and trying to pick up girls based on how masculine he was. Lo' and behold, a gay couple walks in. Douche spots them and obviously starts to make a scene telling them how ungodly their relationship is, and I'm really close to kicking him out. The lovely gents proceed to tell me that it is not a problem and they are used to that kind of treatment. Usually, they like to convince people that gays are alright too, so they want to pay for the douche's drinks. They ended up getting this dude so drunk that he probably couldn't recognize his own mother. Closing time slowly approaches and there's just me and the three of them left. I'm standing there, smoking my cig, when it happens. They are sitting on the sofa and all three start making out with each other. Suddenly, the homophobic douche seems not to be so 'phobic anymore. One of the guys winks at me with the evilest grin possible and I'm just standing there, gasping and laughing my guts out. Closing time comes and they all get into a cab. I really wanted to find out what happened next. Unfortunately, never saw any of them again. I'm sure they gave the guy a lesson or two on how friendly gay people can be."
"I got into bartending in college because of the obvious reasons and enjoyed my share of enjoyable upbeat shifts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. For a long while, I never saw the need to do anything else because those three nights paid so well in a college town, that I couldn't see the motivation in working any other job. Anyway, that's the plus side, the negative side of bartending is every other morning, afternoon, or night shift when the real 'regulars' hang out--the ones that need to be drunk to be normal.
Over the years, I got to know plenty of them, and it just started to eat at me how much the alcohol I was serving them was just a front for so many people's lives. It became depressing hearing story after story that were plenty sad, but the reality was they almost all could have been prevented if the 'regulars' just didn't come here every night.
One shift, I had ushered everyone out and was cleaning up the bar at 2:30 am. I would usually let the regulars hang out a bit after closing and let them finish their drinks. One of them, Sammy, had been his usual self all night (trying to hit on any girl that walked in the door, and being his obnoxious, ridiculous self, as he slowly became blitzed). He was 55, not too good looking, but a nice enough guy, so I would let him be himself since I knew he was harmless and didn't have a license, so he always walked home. I told Sammy I had to lock up and get home to finish a term paper, so I motioned for the door and laughed with him until he took off. Ten minutes later I was just turning out the lights when Sammy comes pounding back at the door demanding to be let back in (this is totally normal--when a regular alcoholic realizes they are short a drink in hand, or someone to drink with, they come back and try to convince you to re-open the bar--happened almost every night). This time though, Sammy's voice was a bit more distraught, so I asked if he was okay.
'No man, I'm freaking out, I can't find my backpack!'
'That sack you always carry around?' I asked.
'Yes, I can't find it anywhere and I'm hoping to god I left it in there, can you let me in to check?' I told him I'd do a search, but thinking he was just trying to figure out a way to get back into the bar for another drink, I asked him if he could wait until tomorrow. When I mentioned this, he literally started bawling on the door step like a 2-year-old.
I said, 'Sammy, I'm sure you'll find your backpack and all the booze that's probably in it, relax.'
'No, you don't understand, it's not my booze. I need my backpack because it is full of pictures of my daughter. I haven't seen her in years and that's all I have left.'
I was instantly shocked that this man even had a daughter, much less cared enough about her to carry pictures around with him--it's not like he ever showed them to anyone. I turned the lights back on and check the bathrooms. His pack was above the urinal. I brought it out to him. He was incredibly relieved and hugged me. I asked 'Sammy, I didn't know you had a daughter, what happened to her, is she okay?'
His answer: 'Oh, she's fine, she just lives with her mother, and I haven't seen them in years.'
'Did you guys have a falling out or something, where do they live?' was my followup.
He just responded, 'No, we were fine before I left, and they live in (the next town over), I just haven't gone home in 5 years...' Then he thanked me and took off.
That was really all it was, but I couldn't believe my ears. I have to assume there was more to the story than he let on, but knowing him and hearing what he said and how he said it really made me think. Sammy was at my bar every single night, and his family lived less than 15 minutes away, and he hadn't been home in 5 years? He wasn't a war hero, he wasn't an ex-con, he wasn't doing anything. He was just here, at my bar, with his family of bar regulars every single night. His failure was that he was a drunk, not that he was a drunk because of failure. It was at that moment I realized what alcohol can truly do to someone, and what being a 'regular' really means.
I started seeing a very fine line between me, Sammy, and a lot of the other regulars with similar stories. Similar to the way a prison guard might feel after years of working in a jail. At a certain point, how much different is your life than theirs?
I knew right then and there, that if I wasn't going to remove alcohol from my life, I had to remove the bar from it, otherwise I would always just be one misstep away from being a 'regular' myself, and that didn't sound cool anymore.
I quit a week later because of that night."
"One time, a regular told me that he smoked a bong with a former Vice President. He was a vet and they had served together for a brief period of time. Not sure exactly what time this partaking took place, but according to my former regular, it was sometime before 'he invented the internet.'"
"A guy came in obviously intoxicated. Proceeded to tell me his wife was leaving him for his business partner and that that partner was forcing him out of their business together. He was losing his kids, business, pretty much everything he cared about. Then he asked me to call the police because he was afraid to be alone because he might kill himself.
About 10 minutes later the police showed up, took the man outside and asked him a few questions then came back in and asked me what his deal was. I said he wasn't bothering anybody and that it seemed like he was having a rough go of it. The couple at the bar felt so bad they paid his tab. I've never looked up the definition of dejected, but this guy would have had his picture next to it for sure."
"I used to work for a club in Australia (the kind with poker machines). When I first started, there was a regular there that would come in around 2 am after he finished work and would always pay in $1 coins, grab himself roughly about 4-5 drinks and then head home. One night, after a few too many beers, I asked him about the whole 'paying in $1 coins' thing and he drunkenly said that he also works for a club a few hours away and he just takes as many coins as he likes from the inside of the poker machines. He was a regular for a couple of years and still paid the same way. Cut forward about 8 years and I have long since left that club but was hired as a Gaming Manager for another club. Guess who was the Head Supervising poker machine attendant...THIS GUY! He didn't recognize me at the time but remembered me after I told him I knew of his little skimming off the top operation. I told him to stop or get out. After a few weeks, he did, but then started up again. He asked me to prove it and all I did was show him footage and an audit trail of him doing it. Guy took about $20 a week, five days a week, for who knows how long! Pretty sneaky, but NOT IN MY HOUSE!"
"Had a lady tell me she and her husband were fighting one day when she came in to get a drink. She gave a lot of innocuous details, all without prompting from me. But she mentioned that the fight was particularly bad because they were going on vacation soon.
The next time she came in, again without prompting, she launched into the next level of her drama. She had canceled his ticket and bought a skimpy bathing suit and sexy lingerie. She says she put on the lingerie and walked around the house and told him she was only wearing the lingerie once she went on vacation but it was too bad he wasn't going to be around to see it.
Then she offered to bring in the lingerie so we could see it. I don't think she was going to wear it to our pub or anything like that, but still, awkward."
"I had a guy once tell me I owed him a free drink. He was taking Chantix and it gave him crazy-intense sex dreams. In his dream the night before, I assaulted him something fierce.
He then proceeded to tell me a bunch of other violent sex dreams he'd been having. He would only have them while taking Chantix. Other patrons overheard him and would share their equally-messed-up sex dreams they had exclusively on Chantix.
It helped them all quit smoking, but at what cost?"
"I had a regular who I was on pretty good terms with come in one day in a really bad mood. He ordered his usual, then after about 15 minutes, he said he needed to leave NOW and if the cops came, tell them he was never there. I told him I couldn't do that and asked what was going on, but he split. I found out that his family called the cops because he was making threats about killing himself. Anyway, the cops did come and I didn't lie about it. Texted him and he never answered, but he came in a week later like nothing had happened, I was so ticked."
"Had a customer order a $15 drink. He gave me a $50 bill and told me to keep the change. Strange guy, kept sneezing and rubbing his face while sitting at the bar. Drank his drink as if it was a shot and it was gone instantly.
He asked me what I'd do if I found out I had two weeks to live. I told him I'd see my family and friends, knock things off my bucket list, etc. 'What if your family hates you?' he asked. I told him I'd do what makes me happy then.
He then asked where the nearest club was where he could score some drugs. I told him I wasn't really into that sort of stuff but pointed him toward a bar that might be a good start. He left me another $20 as he left and was on his way.
About an hour later, I was out for a smoke and saw him getting arrested. I had an extra smoke just so I could watch and see what went down. The police pulled out the biggest bag of drugs I've ever seen in my life, I'm talking like a full zip lock bag just bulging out. Never saw the guy again."
"I have an old Mexican man who comes in about 5 days a week. Very well dressed, very polite and friends with everybody. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He always buys people drinks and tips well. One day he was drinking whiskey alone and opened up. His wife died of a long fought cancer and this was her favorite place. Whenever he thinks of her he comes here and hangs out."