Joanna Leban, bartender extraordinaire at New York’s legendary East Village watering hole Doc Holliday’s (East 9th Street and Avenue A), is back with another intoxicating story for Honeysuckle’s readers. All names have been changed, but don’t let that stop you from drinking down this installment of Tales from The Bar with Joanna!
Everything in the bar business comes in waves: security problems, equipment breakdowns, staff disciplinary problems, and so on…
It also seems, certain nights, your bar fills up with carbon copies of one particuliar category of customer. This Friday we had half a bar full of privileged, snotty young girls, who all looked barely of drinking age.
These were the kind of girls who ordered rounds of drinks and left fifty cents as a tip. Getting a two-quarter tip is even more insulting than getting stiffed, because there is no chance they forgot or planned to tip at the end of the night. A few times I have seen bartenders call the customer on this, handing the quarters back to them in a condescending tone, suggesting that if all they can leave are some coins, then they probably need them more.
I myself don’t recommend doing this. Bartenders really can’t get pissed at these morons, ’cause there are too many of them, and it just isn’t worth the energy. Luckily, in the end, the generous patrons usually make up for the cheaper ones. Even though it shouldn’t be this way, you can’t dwell on it or be rude to every customer who is thrifty or annoying. If you do, then you probably should not be in the service industry.
The point is, however, that if these girls could afford to drink, well then, they can afford to tip. If they can’t, well then, go to a college kegger and give sexual favors for beer.
One teenage-looking girl presented an ID that was so fake, you didn’t even have to inspect it carefully. It was that bad.
“This isn’t real. You can’t stay, ” I authoritatively stated.
She insisted it was real, and upon being questioned on the details of her ID, Miss Huffy threatened she would call the cops in protest. She took out her phone and started to dial. I interjected, “Let me talk to the officer, and I will tell him, you are in possession of a fake ID – which, my dear, is against the law, and YOU will be arrested.”
She was fake-calling to begin with. I was even contemplating asking her if she knew the number of the precinct, because I would be happy to give it to her. But she was taking up too much of my time, and people were now waiting for drinks.
First of all, she was lucky I didn’t take her ID from her and call the cops myself. And second, she quickly left the bar when she realized that if she kept pressing the issue, she would be the one on the losing end. I am sure she went down the block or around the corner, hoping to pass off her fake on some less discriminating bartender.
Back to serving drinks. I was approached by some other rich bitch from Long Island, waving Daddy’s credit card at me. She opened a tab and asked if a birthday girl could get on the bar and dance. I humored her, by telling her, “Yes, when a decent dancing song comes on, go ahead.” I prayed for no good dancing songs.
A few songs later, she decided Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” was worthy of bar dancing. The birthday girl climbed up on the bar, and soon, so did eight of her carbon copy friends.
They all looked underage and like female toolboxes, doing pseudo-stripper moves without the commitment to sluttiness, and also without any objective hotness. Not only did their dancing suck, but they also were preventing customers from ordering drinks. The entire bar was lined with these girls and it was impossible to serve. At the end of the song I thought, “Phew, they’ll be getting down now.” But no, they wanted to stay.
Okay, time for harsh measures. The crowd wasn’t very impressed; my regulars were shaking their heads and giving me that look of desperation that signaled to me, “Please, Joanna, get them down.”
Jukebox volume off. “Girls, if you aren’t going to get naked, get the hell off the bar.”
The room went crazy. Woo-wooing and other supportive cheering filled the place. And, low and behold…the girls got down, very quickly. They couldn’t handle the heat, and when called on it, they were just what we thought: wannabe strippers without the juice.
Visit Doc’s, “a little bit of Country in the city,”
141 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Joanna Leban has been a bartender at Doc Holliday’s for 23 years. She has acquired hundreds of stories from behind the bar and will share her favorites with Honeysuckle readers in this recurring column. Keep checking in for more Tales from the Bar with Joanna!