The sheer bullheaded stupidity of some people never ceases to amaze me. Even after some fourteen years of tending bar off and on, I still just don't understand how some people just don't get it.
Take tonight's case in point.
So, it's eleven or so at night. Not the busiest night, but the band is playing, people are dancing and ordering drinks; it is, as they say, going on. I'm in the second well making drinks, and there's this yahoo frat boy signing his tab on the lightbox in the middle of the bar, which is our service area. In addition to being not so bright, he's clumsy, and as he goes to grab his card from the check presenter he misses, or drops it, or something. Long story short, I see his card fall off the light box onto my side of the bar. I go to retrieve it for him, but he's managed to drop it in such a way that it's fallen through the crack between the ledge where we make the drinks and the bar itself. I can see it, there down the crack, leaning against the back wall of the space under the light box where the wiring is. It's gonna be a bitch, but I'm pretty sure I can get it out with the proper tools. I hold up my finger, the universal signal for 'just wait a minute and I'll deal with this' and I go over to the POS where there're some random tools and suchlike among the various and assorted useful things that we keep over there. After digging around for a couple of seconds, I come up with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers and I go back over.
This is the part where I start to realize that I'm not dealing with the sharpest knife in the drawer here.
Homeboy has decided that he's got this, only what he isn't smart enough to realize is that the two cocktail straws he's trying to use (like a four-year old trying to use chopsticks) to retrieve his credit card from down in the crack lack the solidity and tensile strength necessary to manipulate the card out of the jam that it's in. They are, however, sufficient to push the card further down and flat against the bottom, where none of the tools to hand can reach it, and even could they reach it, they would not be able to manipulate it in any meaningful or helpful way, and he has, in fact, done this by the time I return.
I stick the screwdriver into the crack, to see if I can even just touch the card, to no avail. By this point, the bar is starting to get backed up, so I explain to homeboy that he's managed to put the card beyond our collective reach for the nonce. I explain that it's fallen down under the lightbox, and that while I might be able to get at it, in order to do so I will have to literally disassemble the bar, which I am not going to do at this time, since we are open, and selling drinks, and we are not going to completely disrupt the business of the bar in order to retrieve an errant credit card which he has managed to drop down into the guts of the bar. I explain that I'm happy to take a crack at it, but that I won't be able to until after we've closed for the night, and that he'll have to come back tomorrow, and if I manage to extricate his card from its predicament it's in that he can have it back then.
He stares at me blankly, so I explain it again. He still doesn't get it, so I show him. I show him where his card has fallen, and demonstrate that I can't even touch it with the screwdriver. Again I explain that the card is simply lost for now, and that he'll just have to live without it until tomorrow. He tells me it's my fault because we shouldn't have designed the bar that way. Seriously. With a straight face and everything.
At least five times I explain it to him, until I am well and truly exasperated. His answer is that he fully expects me to drop everything, stop selling drinks, and disassemble the bar so he can have his card back. Then his friend shows up, and I explain it to him a couple of times, but he's no brighter and seems to understand even less, which, all things considered, is no mean feat.
Then his girlfriend wants to know why I'm being such an asshole, after explaining some eight times that it simply is not possible at this time to retrieve the card, so I stop paying attention to them and start serving other customers.
At this point, my employer comes over, and I explain to him what's happened.
Shortly thereafter, I'm back in the well, making someone a drink. Homeboy is still standing there, still not getting it. He tells me again to stop everything and take apart the bar. Again I tell him no. He asks to speak to the manager, and my employer is right there. So now he goes over it with the guy, and loses patience even quicker than I did. When I come back, the girlfriend has grabbed the channel knife (the thing we use to make twists for fancy cocktails), which she is sticking down into the crack in her own hilariously misguided attempt to fish out the card (clearly she's the dumbest of the bunch). Which is funny, as the channel knife sticks out maybe an inch from the end of the handle, and is thus some four or five inches too short to do the job.
I take the channel knife back from the girl, and explain to her that neither she, nor anyone else, is allowed to reach across the bar and grab things, and she just looks at me like she can't believe that anyone would ever say such a thing to her, as if she believes that she is, in fact, perfectly within her rights to reach over and mess around with the business side of the bar. I suppose she's probably one of those people that thinks the garnish tray is a buffet. So we throw her out, which has the upshot of making the others leave, too, but not before promising to call the police, which we encourage them to do.
I spend the next few minutes collecting sympathy and daps for my patience with this passel of yahoos from the other customers at the bar, all of whom are even more amused by these jackasses than I am, since they just had to watch. A few minutes later, the original dipshit in question comes back in to apprise me that the police have arrived. He's got a look on his face like I did something bad and he just told my mother on me and boy am I in trouble now. What he doesn't understand, along with the basics of Newtonian physics, is that the cops are on my side on this one almost no matter what he says. It's one of the perqs of being the bartender. Everybody's on my side when I am the bartender, for I am the fount of all drinks and the head motherfucker what's in charge.
Now what's funny is that these guys fully believe that they're in the right, and that the police are going to make me go back in there and do whatever is necessary for as long as it takes to get this dumbass his precious credit card back. They're absolutely certain of it. There is no other possible outcome, in their minds.
What happens, of course, is that I come out there, say hi to the cops, explain to them what's happened, and they in turn, attempt to explain it to the aggrieved frat-folk. Very shortly they begin to feel my pain, as they, too, have seemingly insurmountable difficulty in getting through to these people. They explain that there is no crime here, that I'm running a business, and that it is not reasonable to expect that I will disrupt it in order to disassemble the bar and retrieve an errant credit card. They explain that I have offered to try and fix the situation, but not until after the bar is closed, and that they can either come back at three or so in the morning or five tomorrow afternoon, when we open again, and that they can pretty much take it or leave it. I don't know how many times they had to explain it, because at that time I was excused to go back inside to work and share a hearty laugh at their expense with pretty much everyone else in the bar.
It's not the first time something like this has happened, and it's funny, it's almost always these middle-class white kids that I have this kind of problem with. The thing I found most striking about this one is the complete and utter lack of acceptance of any responsibility whatsoever on this kid's part. I mean, he dropped the card, then pushed it further down to where it couldn't be retrieved, but it's our fault, because we shouldn't have designed the bar that way. It just boggles the mind. It clearly never once occurred to him or any of his posse that he had any responsibility at all for the situation. I can't understand that mindset. I mean, has someone been there protecting him from any consequences of his actions for his whole life? Really? I mean, how do you get to be old enough to have a drink in a bar without ever doing something stupid and having to deal with the result of your stupidity?
I can only assume that his parents or whatever kept him insulated and protected from all that for his whole life. Which is a real shame, because someday the hammer's gonna fall for real on that kid, and he's not gonna know what hit him.
And I'll still think it's funny.