Posted by Jeff Burkhart on February 8, 2013
“WAAAAAAH,” went the baby almost immediately upon entering the bar, causing heads to turn. Bright lights and loud noise will often do that to a child.
“Babies don’t belong in bars,” grumbled the aging off-duty bartender seated at the bar, those same bright lights and noise causing him to rub his temples.
I nodded, but I nod at a lot of things. He went back to complaining about all the other things in life that he didn’t agree with.
“I am tired of all the snivelers and whiners,” he said, causing me to wonder what he called what he was doing.
“You know, children aren’t allowed to sit at bars.”
“Waaaaaah,” went that baby, now in the corner booth.
“I know because I worked for the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control),” he said authoritatively.
There are no less-reliable statements than those uttered in a bar, especially those uttered by self-professed experts.
I nodded again.
(According to the ABC’s public relations officer John Carr, “It is OK for a child to sit in an area where alcohol is served as long as food is also served.” Meaning that if people are eating at the bar, then a child may also sit there. Period.
“Obviously they cannot be served alcohol,” Carr adds. “But if a location is licensed as a restaurant, a child may sit inside that location wherever food is served.”)
“Can you reshake this martini?” the grumbling off-duty bartender asked.
“Waaaaaah!” the baby wailed.
“I’ve been bartending for 40 years, and I know that kids aren’t allowed in bars.”
Proximity and time do not make one an expert. It is possible to do something for a long time and not be good at it. Once I had an employer ask me how another employee who had worked at some top restaurants could still be so terrible. Not the height of professionalism to be sure, but an astute observation nonetheless.
It’s called the Peter Principle and was put forth by authors Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book, “The Peter Principle.” Simply stated it says, “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” Meaning that in a hierarchal employment environment employees are eventually promoted above their abilities.
But what if they aren’t actually promoted? What if they are barely holding on to their original position? It is in that way that incompetence really takes a foothold.
“Now this martini is too cold,” said the grumbler.
“Waaaaaah!” the baby exclaimed.
“Didn’t you want it re-shaken?” I asked puzzled.
“I changed my mind.”
“I hate babies,” he said.
I was pretty confident they weren’t too fond of him either.
Children in bars have become a new reality. Many busy bars are attached to busy restaurants and as such offer a new social order. However, allowed doesn’t mean that the environment is always suitable for children.
Here are some of the new realities:
• Recently a father punched another customer at a local restaurant when the customer asked him to get his children to pipe down. Good parenting at its best.
• “It’s a bar,” a mother responded to another customer when asked to have her 10-year-old bring the volume down a notch. Odd logic if you ask me.
• “Can you put his Shirley Temple in a martini glass?” a 9-year-old’s father requested when seated at the bar on a recent major drinking holiday. FYI, it didn’t happen.
• “How dare you talk to my child like that,” said a couple right after their child ran into a waiter carrying a tray full of drinks, knocking the drinks to the ground, except for the one that spilled all over the waiter.
“Babies don’t belong in bars,” my grumbler grumbled.
“No sir, they really don’t.” Now it was me that said one thing but meant another. I answered as I thought:
• The customer may indeed always be right, but sometimes he or she is right about the wrong thing.
• You have a right to your own opinion, just not your own facts.
• Poorly behaved children are often the result of poorly behaved parents.
• Baby can refer to both behavior and age brackets.