Tales From the Gay Bar – “Caspar the Friendly Bartender” or “Don’t Lie to Me!”

Posted: September 1, 2013 in TFTGB
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Previously at The Gay Bar: I, the manager of a fabulous gay bar somewhere in Scandinavia, had to fire a shift manager for simply not doing his job.

After I fired Harry I needed a new shift manager. I have always been a big fan of promoting someone from the regular staff. That way I know them and how they work. And they feel like they have accomplished something which makes them more likely to stay longer. It also tends to boost morale among the other bartenders, they get a sense of “Here I can work my way up the ladder”. And they can. But after I fired Harry I needed a new shift manager and it had to be someone new. I had only just promoted Laura and I had no other bartenders that were ready or skilled enough to become shift managers. For the first time since I became manager of the bar, I had to hire a shift manager with whom I had no experience.

“That couldn’t have been too difficult” you might say and you are very right. Hiring someone isn’t difficult at all, but finding someone who will do the work properly is apparently very, very difficult.

I was behind the bar a few days after I had returned from my holidays. Everything was starting to fall back into normal pace and most of the hell Harry had left behind was sorted. A guy walked in and went straight for the bar. He was about 25, dark haired, wore thick rimmed glasses and tight pants. He had a messenger bag slung over the left shoulder and he tugged on it as he addressed the male bartender next to me “Who’s the boss here?” The bartender nodded at me and the hipster threw out his hand “pleased to meet you, my name is Caspar with a C”. All I could think was “Does he introduce himself like this every time?”

Caspar with a C: I was wondering if you’re hiring?
Neo with an N: We are actually. Do you have any experience?
Caspar with a C: Yeah I’ve worked as a barista for a few years and recently managed a bar in Copenhagen.
Neo: Sounds good. Why’d you move?
Caspar with a C: I moved to start an education, but I dropped out.
Neo: Fair enough. Do you have any references?
Caspar with a C: All here on my resumé.

I took the resumé and I asked him to write an application with focus on how he had worked while managing the bar in Copenhagen. He said he would drop by the next day with it. Over the weekend I sat down to look through the application and call his references. I could only get a hold of the owner of the bar, but I figured that would be enough since he seemed to be genuinely sad that Caspar had left them and praised him for his skills, both as a bartender and a manager.

I called Caspar Saturday night and asked him how he would feel about downgrading to just shift manager since I wasn’t looking to replace myself. He sounded a bit disappointed at first, but he quickly came around. I told him it was very important that he understood that he had his duties and I had mine, I would not have him interfere with my work however well meant it was. He completely agreed, he would keep to his own yard work and not cut my grass.

He came in the following Monday to sign papers and be briefed on what his duties would be. He asked a lot of questions which is a good sign, it meant he was paying attention, he cared and he wasn’t afraid to learn. So far so good. Then he started making suggestions. I nodded curtly at the first few ideas, but he didn’t seem to get the point, in fact it only spurred him on. In the end I had to tell him to focus on his job and I would do mine.

We got him a work-schedule and a shirt with our logo and he was ready. Fully briefed, completely equipped to handle whatever the bar would throw at him. I had confidence I had found someone who not only could do the job, but would also fit in well with the rest of the crew.

It has always been very important to me that my employees have a good relationship. They don’t have to love each other, but they at least have to like the person they’re working with for 8 hours straight. A strong team means I have something to fall back on when things go wrong. (Things like a shift manager on long-term leave and another fired). Finding someone who fits in to an already tight group of co-workers can be tricky, but I was certain Caspar would do just fine.

After Caspar’s first few shifts I took him into the office for a chat. How did he like working here? Any troubles? Everyone treating him well? All seemed to be cake and ice cream. He liked it here and all the others had been really nice and helped him whenever he had a question. Easy peasy boobie sqeezy! (Side note: I judged a “Who’s got the best boobs” contest last night, it was awesome :D)

A week and a half later I was looking over the economics for July. We’d fared pretty okay considering it was, traditionally, the slowest month of the year. But after looking a bit closer I found some weird numbers. We’ve never had problems with the till not balancing, but this month there were both minuses and plusses far beyond what I would call a normal transaction mistake.

I checked the dates and the work schedule. What do you know, it’s new guy’s shifts, all of them. He was working that night and I called him into the office.

Neo: Hey, how’s everything out there?
Caspar with a C: Lookin’ good. Gonna be a good night I think.
Neo: Good, good. How are you getting along with the register? I know you said it’s different from the one you know.
Caspar with a C: Yeah, no, I think I’m doing all right. A few mistakes maybe, but nothing bad.
Neo: Seems you’ve been having some trouble balancing it?
Caspar with a C: Yeah but I’m getting the hang of it.
Neo: Let’s just go out and have a look at it again, just to make sure. Oh and everything over 50 kr. over or under when you count it out you should leave me a note, mkay?
Caspar with a C: Sure thing!

We went through it and he seemed to have the hang of it. Him stealing money seemed unlikely since there were both too little and too much money in the till after his shifts. I hoped it was just beginner trouble, but I checked after all his shifts after that. He kept his promise, he left me a note when the till was 50 kr. off-balance, but he might as well not have. It was almost always that much.

I talked with him again and went through the register again. No change. I needed him to learn this! Then the reports from the bartenders started streaming in. They had kept it to themselves, but now they decided enough was enough. Five of them came into my office, sat down and started with something akin to “We don’t want to tattle, but…” And then it started this avalanche of fuck. Caspar couldn’t mix a drink if his life depended on it, he couldn’t remember what guests had ordered, he was a slob behind the bar, he spent all his time talking about how to make the bar better and more effective and ignored customers, he couldn’t even brew a pot of coffee and the guy used to be a friggin’ barista!

I couldn’t understand. He had such an impressive resume and his former boss had showered him in praise. I decided I would try to get a hold of one of the bartenders from the bar he had managed. I googled the name. Didn’t find anything. I tried several other sites (national registries where one would most certainly be able to look up a bar), no dice. In the end I had to face it. There was no such bar.

I called up Caspar’s former “boss” and yelled at him until he confessed that it was all a lie. They had set it up so Caspar could get a job as a bartender. He had wanted that for so long, but no one would keep him because he either didn’t fit in or couldn’t learn the routines. I had never experienced anything like it.

The problem with bartending is that some people view it as a glamorous profession. A glamorous profession in which you hardly need any skill. It is true that anyone can call themselves bartender, but you do need to learn a little to be successful. And it’s not glamorous at all. It’s long nights, dealing with jerks and douches and mopping up vomit. It’s moving 100 crates of beer, wiping off tables and emptying the urinal with a pitcher because the pipes are blocked. It’s watching someone get over a breakup by taking out their liver, taking out the trash and taking out the drunks before they get in a fight. It’s sore backs, flat feet and cuts all over your hands.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but people who think it’s all fun and games quickly learn that for every ton of fun there’s around 60 tons of hard work. (That’s 2205 and 132277 pounds respectively for the winners of the space-race, and 313 and 18750 cloves respectively for the British sheep shearers from the medieval period).

Back to Caspar with a C. All that was left to do now was fire him, but I wanted to make sure he never pulled a stunt like this on anybody else. I called him and asked him to meet me at the bar. I put on my game face; I’ve been told that it’s quite scary; it’s just completely void of emotion, no hint of anything, just blank and cold. We sat down and he started out saying his friend had called and he knew I was about to fire him. I asked how he ever thought this would work, that I wouldn’t find out? He had no answer. I told him I had called every bar manager I knew in town and if I ever heard of him doing anything similar it would have dire consequences. He was very quiet, what was he supposed to say anyway? Nothing he could say would make any of this okay. I continued, telling him how disappointed I was, how he’d betrayed my trust, wasted my time, wasted the bars money and been an all round idiot. He started crying.

I told him to stop. I didn’t care if he cried; I didn’t care about his feelings. I just wanted him to understand that what he had done was completely unacceptable. I’m sure if I’d bothered there was some law he had broken, but there was no reason spending any more money on this fool.

Just because I was angry and disappointed I kicked him while he was already down. I told him that if he had been honest I might’ve even have taken him in on a trial period as a regular bartender, but he would be lucky to even get a busboy job in town after this. Yeah that’s right, you fuck with me I fuck with you!

So now I’m still down by two shift-managers, but for now I’m just gonna work some extra hours and focus on training some of the bartenders for the job. I have a few who with some extra practice might work out. Oh and Laura’s being a frigging champ! She’s been working her cute little ass off while all this has been going on.

  1. ivansblogworld says:

    Loved your post. Am definitely going to read all you new posting, just finished reading some of your older posts. Ivan


  2. Your blog is awesome! So awesome that I nominated you for a Liebster award! http://wp.me/p2FYxm-d4


  3. GFixation says:

    Wow just wow, you would think that he would at least learn a thing or two after getting the job.


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