“Alright everyone! Get out! Finish them up!”
“Let’s go! Drink ’em up!”
Chances are that if you’ve been to a bar at closing time, you’ve heard one of the above or a slightly angrier version delivered with a lot more force, sometimes accompanied by swearing. Tens of thousands of bars close every night every day of the week in this great country and this end-of-night experience is supposedly part of the social contract patrons sign on for when they walk through the saloon doors.
However, this practice has never made sense to me and I know I’m not the only one that’s thinking this. Allow me to paint the scenario which is applicable to both sexes and probably transvestites too. You and three friends make a decision to go to SuperBar, one of ten possible drinking holes in Any City, USA. You like the atmosphere and frequent this place a few times a month. You show up around 10pm and throughout the night, you and your crew are buying drinks and are having a great time. It’s so fun that your group invites other friends to come join you from other bars, drawing even more business to SuperBar that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Fast foward to closing time. Your group has signed off on all tabs and you’re finishing up your last round before heading out. Then, you get to endure the experience of being rushed to leave in the most impolite manner possible as described above. It was fine when you were spending money, but now, you’ve become the equivalent of in-laws during the holiday season.
In any other industry, this practice simply would not stand. Imagine going to GAP and being told to get out at closing time (“Alright everyone! Let’s get those jeans and sweaters and move it!”) or at Shaw’s (“Ok! Move it, Grandma! Get the legs moving those eggs!”). Even normal restaurants don’t rush people out as they hit closing time, but rather start cleaning up and such when their last few patrons are finishing up their meals. (I think this is rude when it’s happening around you while you’re eating, but for the sake of discussion, I will digress.) But in the bar industry, it’s completely ok and ACCEPTED! Am I crazy in thinking that something isn’t right here?
What sparks this diatribe were two recent conversations from both sides of the coin. Blog reader Ben experienced the phenomenon this past weekend, actually fighting back a bit by getting into a spirited debate with a bowling alley “customer cattle driver” (a term I just coined) about the merits of his rationale in forcing people out a good 10 minutes before closing time. One of the best lines Captain Galactic Bowl used against Ben? “Last call was 1:15 and you had 40 minutes to drink it. Why don’t you just chug it and go?” All this while a cop was standing a few feet away. Nothing like being a responsible bartender….
The other conversation took place a few weeks ago with an actual bartender who is forced to “customer cattle drive” (let’s shorten this to CCD) as part of his job. This guy is a really good friend of mine, but that got tossed out the window as myself and some friends were finishing up some late-night beverages. Lo and behold, closing time came and we were no different than anyone else in the place. Yes, despite the fact we are friends, we were asked to leave rather harshly by my buddy. Now, myself and this guru of pouring drinks have a good discourse going, so I had to call him out on it the next day. He blamed it on some local sports players that seem to think they’re above the law and should be served anytime, hence the same treatment needs to go for everyone. I vowed revenge and moved on, but the bizarreness of this situation and others like it lingered.
I will admit there are always going to be a few people that are just hanging around without any call to action to leave. Some need extra prompting and occasionally, some physical prompting at that. But seriously, should this be the way paying customers are treated? If any of my readers have been in the position of a CCD, I’m sure you are probably thinking that I have no idea of what I’m talking about and that after a long night, the bar personnel want to go home and these late drinkers just elongate that problem. My response? No offense, but that’s not my problem. I work long hours like a lot of people and I don’t need to be harrassed when I go out and pay money to blow off steam.
Unfortunately, there’s a not a lot that the social drinking public can do. If we refuse to leave, that causes an issue. If we begin to argue, that causes an issue. If we don’t go to the bars, that’s not helping anyone because yours truly needs to get his drink on. What needs to happen is some sort of sweeping social change via a commercially viable medium like a movie. There was a skit on this season SNL premiere (hosted by my man-crush Dane Cook) called ‘Let’s Go’ that helped recreate the ridiculous experience, but it was near the end of show when everyone watching at home is either passed out with nacho cheese on their shirt or getting head.
If it helps, add this blog to the fire and let’s hope the movement will blaze a bit brighter. We all have a lot of drinking to do in our lives, so the quicker we can band together and find a solution, the better all our lives will be. Hey, if we pull this off, world peace will be as easy as downing a Sam Adams Winter Lager after a long day of work.
On the flip side, I’ll be lucky to EVER be served again if this movement catches on. Forget that I said anything. In fact, GET OUT!
So a week after announcing my big leave, I got a whopping one email and two comments on the blog comments section. Seriously, I AM LEAVING MY JOB! God, I hate being emotionally needy. Maybe more people knew or maybe I’m underestimating the amount of people that came up to me to ask questions. Regardless, it’s been quite a week of answering questions that have no answer. Two major ones:
-What am I doing next? I have NO idea. Seriously, no friggin’ clue. After seven years of having that figured out (and four more if you count college before that), I’m perfectly at peace with not knowing what exit to take on my highway of life. And like Tom Cochrane said, life is a highway and I want to ride it all night long. However, if you’re going my way, I want to drive it all night long. (Never quite understood that line, but then again, it is Tom Cochrane.)
-Where am I going? Not sure, but I’d really like to stay around here. I know a fun group of people and the opportunities for getting where I want to go are more prevalent with the Boston area being just 45 minutes away. However, a dream of mine would be to move back to Portland and begin to change the perception that young people are moving away in droves and that Maine is not forward-thinking with their industries. Plus, my crew of friends and family are unsurpassed. Oh, what shall I do? Time will tell and I’m sure you’ll find the answers right here.
-Why? That was all last week. Scroll down and read it if you missed it.
I guess I left out a few people in the Home(coming) Is Where The Beer Is piece I wrote last month. Definitely not intentional, but it was stream-of-thought writing. Sometimes, those streams fire out like the first bathroom stop after a night of drinking and other times, it’s like rocks through a drinking straw.
Was relaxing last night after a brutal four games in seven days stretch and caught some of Comic Relief 2006, helping raise money for Katrina families. A few standouts were Louis CK and Sarah Silverman, but the one disappointment was Dane Cook who got little more than crickets during his five-minute segment. I hate to say it, but dare I say overexposed? Say it ain’t so!!!!
Still have seen zero movies lately including Borat or The Departed. I’ve heard both are really good. However, I was asked to find a corkscrew for a suite at work this week.
Have a great Turkey Day week and I hope to see you all soon.