What you learn about the human race when you work in a pub

Yes, you will hate them all

There is no job more taxing than pulling pints, and it’s all because of the people you find yourself dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

Whether it’s the regulars, the hard-drinkers, the food snobs or the guy from school you know is still in Year 11, here’s all the things you learn about the human race when you work behind the bar in your local.

ID is optional, they’ll have you know

They can be the smallest, squeakiest kid with the least convincing fake driving license of all time, yet they will still look at you with incredulity if you refuse to serve them. Even asking for ID is treated like some sort of cardinal sin, especially because sod’s law suggests every time you do it they’ll end up being “32 love, I’ve got two kids”.


It is never possible to pour a perfect pint

It’s the first thing you learn, and it’s something you’ll strive to get right for the rest of the time you work there: the angle of the tilt, the velocity of the thrust – it all makes a difference, and you know it. Yet there will always, always be some smarmy bastard who looks at what you’ve just poured them and sneers: “Can I have some beer with that head?”

It is even less possible to pour a perfect pint of Guinness

The three-part-fucking-what? There’s literally a diagram of how to do this on the back of the pump and I still know I’m not going to manage.

There are people who still order a Guinness last

The first evidence of humans using stone tools has been documented as the Homo Habilis, 2.8 million years ago. Since then we’ve discovered fire, we’ve invented the wheel and we’ve founded entire civilisations on liberty, democracy, philosophy and art.

All of this, and there are still people who can’t accept that Guinness takes longer to pour than other drinks.

Putting a coaster down will not prompt someone to put their drink on it

I literally handed you the drink and put the coaster down at exactly the same time, so setting the moist pint down right next to it on my perfectly dry counter is the public house equivalent of smashing the glass spitting in my face.

If you’ve just cleaned the bar, they will spill

It’s an unwritten rule that as soon as you start cleaning any surface, the next customer is guaranteed to slosh their drink over it to such an extent that all your handiwork will be ruined.

They’ll apologise and say “sorry mate, give me a cloth and I’ll clean that up”, but you both know they’re in fact going to stand there watching you deal with their mess in the most awkward manner possible. The same goes with drunken blokes and sweeping up smashed glass, and young mothers and their children who’ve just been sick.


On that note, it is possible to truly loathe children

You used to think of yourself as something of a Mary Poppins character, a charming carefree individual who could talk to kids in a way other adults couldn’t. Then the third child of the week mashed a fresh pack of crayons into a newly-wiped tabletop, and you just saw red. Now every snot-nosed little cretin lights a fire of rage in your soul, even if they’re literally just asking for a straw in their J2O.

Old men don’t get the smoking ban

I’m sorry sir, you can’t smoke that in here.

Why not?

It’s illegal, sir.

Oh, I’ll just have the one then.

Other customers are complaining, sir.

Can’t you open a window?

Every time you go in the kitchen, you will be shouted at

You don’t know why – you’ll never know why – but they will be shouting at you.

The ‘regulars’ will never fully accept you

Graham and Jean, Old John, Liz and the girls – they’re all here, and they’re all having a great time. Then you come over to clear their glasses, and a stony silence sets over them all. One of them tries to make small talk, but forgets your name. You scurry back behind the bar and watch them resume an animated conversation with your boss.


Customers can’t gather how kitchens work

They’ll try to have the lunch deal at 7:30pm. They’ll ask for the chicken and mushroom stew without the mushrooms, and you’ll try to explain that it’s literally just microwaved in a bag without telling them it’s microwaved in a bag. They’ll ask you for a bit of vinaigrette, and get offended when you come back with a sachet of salad cream. I’m not a maître d’, so don’t expect me to know about these things.

People don’t understand measures

Those tiny little metal cylinders exist for a reason – customer or bartender, we are all slaves to them. So no, I can’t “top you up a bit”, even if we are “mates” and you’re winking at me with such force that I’m worried you’re having a stroke. Why don’t you fork out the extra pound for a double or, better yet, go somewhere where the drinks are cheaper and I won’t have to deal with you at all?

They also don’t understand that what they see is what’s on offer

I know you’re trying to impress your girlfriend, but we don’t have Ciroc or Hennessey, and no amount of begging is going to make them appear out of nowhere. Likewise, even if you’re really, really trying to get drunk, we still don’t have the capacity to make Jägerbombs. Will a vodka and Pepsi do?


There is nothing more satisfying than ringing the bell

It’s not even the fact that ringing the bell signifies the end of your shift which makes it so fun. It’s the power, the raw dominance which allows you to strike one piece of metal against another, call last orders and ruin the night for everyone. The issue is that it works like a dog whistle, and you’ll end up spending the next twenty minutes speed-serving drinks to the baying masses who just want “one for the road”.

No-one can grasp the concept of ‘closed’

Even if the doors are bolted, the lights are off and you’re tying your scarf around your neck, there’ll still be one straggler who saunters through the car park, pulls at the handles and then peers through the window in dull half-drunken confusion. We’re closed, you’ll mouth, to which they’ll point at their watch like they know your opening hours better than you, or suggest “one more?” as if their final pint is worth more than your precious sleep.

You’ll apologise anyway, and bid them goodnight as kindly as you can – mainly because you know you’ll be serving them again at 11 in the morning.