December 12 Editorial

This week we, along with a few of our friends, decided to hit the town for a fun night out. This rarely happens with these particular friends due to the fact that they turned 30, grew up, and started families, something my husband and I will only do if held at gunpoint. Having not been out in a while, my friends wanted to head downtown to check out the newest hot spots on Palafox. We started at Old Hickory Whiskey Bar, where the whiskey is always smooth and one employee is always psycho.
It was fairly early when we arrived at Old Hickory, but the people watching was already top notch. I looked at my watch thinking it had to be later than 8:30 pm as I watched The Real Housewives of Pensacola in their “mom jeans” yelling loudly at one another due to the fact that one shot of whisky had clearly destroyed their volume buttons. They swayed back and forth like tall Georgia pines in hurricane force winds. I could tell one of them was going to go down.
Not more than five minutes later, the loudest of the 40 something’s pointed her finger at the bartender in anger, I’m guessing because he refused to over serve her, and took a step back only to find that her balance wasn’t ready for the big move. She went down like a ton of bricks and popped back up with rage as she looked around for someone else to blame.
Her friend suggested to the woman’s husband, who looked like he was on another planet completely, that maybe it was time for them all to go. Without saying a word, the man stumbled his was to the waitress station to pay his tab, but was baffled when his lack of words and open mouth stare didn’t get his point across.
He wobbled like a Weeble for a few minutes while she printed his check and cashed him out. Then, like a Kennedy after a St. Patrick’s Day party, he headed for the door, bouncing off of every chair in his path….his loudmouth lady in tow. I hoped they weren’t driving, but I lost sight of them after they rounded the corner for what I can only assume was a bathroom break.
The night wore on, and we were having a great time. The atmosphere was laid back, the whiskey and bourbon selection was amazing, and I couldn’t stop laughing as I watched every ugly Christmas sweater clad frat boy make a sour face after every sip of neat whiskey. This place was awesome.
Then it happened.
I headed towards the bathroom and encountered a line, as usual, for the ladies room. One of the waitresses came around the corner and asked if anyone wanted to use the men’s room, and would we mind if she did so that she could get back to work. We all agreed that it was fine for her to use the men’s room seeing as how it was vacant. She went in and as four women came and went in the women’s room, she was still in there as the men’s line began to grow.
One of my friends was the first guy in line and looked over to us girls in line and asked, “Is someone in there?” The girl behind me said, “Yeah, the waitress said she had to go, but she’s been in there a while.” With a joking tone and a smile, he replied, “Is she pooping?” Gross, I know, but funny.
We laughed, but the mood quickly changed as this 5 foot, rabid Asian Chihuahua flung the men’s room door open and said, “No I wasn’t, but I did wet the seat down for you….douchebag.” There were a lot of four letter words in between and she topped it all off with a salute with her middle finger to my friend.
Now, I have been in the service industry. I have dealt with drunk people, stupid people, cheap people, mean people, etc., and I’ll admit that at times things get stressful. I’ll admit that there have been times where I have had to go out back and scream or hit something. I’ve even gathered my co-workers to vent relentlessly on a customer after a shift. But I have NEVER been rude or cursed at a customer, period.
I hardly think that his comment was so offensive that she had any right to take the situation to that level, nor do I feel that he was in any way trying to offend her personally. The worst part is that she not only made my friend who was the target of her attack uncomfortable, she made the rest of those who witnessed it uncomfortable as well.
We all stood in silence, wondering what had just caused her to flip out like Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire, when my friend finally snapped back to reality and said, “Did she really just say that to me? And she works here?” In my head I thought, “Not for long with that kind of attitude.”
He left the line in search of the manager and was told that the manager wasn’t on duty. So he asked for the person in charge, to which the reply was, “There’s really no one in charge here right now, but if you have a complaint you can visit our website.” I highly doubt that no one was in charge on a Friday night, but I guess that’s how they roll. Our waitress, who apologized profusely and had been amazing all night, even admitted, “Yeah, we’ve had problems with her before.”
In the end, the angry waitress’s behavior ruined our night at Old Hickory. Sure we left and moved on to another bar and had a great night, but the words of that girl haunted me.
I may not be a business owner, but I do know the service industry and that regardless of how you may really feel, the customer is always right. Grin and bear it, and if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. Businesses succeed by building return customers, not by luring patrons in with a fancy bar and gimmicky theme only to turn them off with bad, offensive service.
I hope that perhaps behind closed doors management will handle this situation so that it never happens again. As for me, I’ll give Old Hickory another chance, but only because I love a good bourbon. I only hope the rest of the town is as forgiving, or it’s RIP for yet another ill managed downtown bar.