The Art of Paying in Bars

It doesn’t really matter what I’m buying. Be it: food, clothes or cleaning products. I will go into the shop, select the item I want and walk up to the till. Once at the till and my items are ready for me to take: I pay. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes I’m encouraged to waft my personal piece of bank plastic over a machine which mystically takes money off me but that’s as exciting as it gets.

I know I’m purchasing something that will require a payment so I have my money ready.

But there are regularly customers in a bar who just want to watch the world burn.

The Bottomless Bag.

Ladies are usually the guilty party in this one but men with inexplicably difficult pockets and fort knox style wallets are also to blame. It always seems to happen around a small order, one or two drinks, which obviously has the shortest wait time. Once the individual has their drink in front of them and I’ve told them the price; I’m greeted with a deer caught in the headlights stare.

A juggernaught of a handbag impacts the bar and the contents are frantically scattered in an attempt to find the purse. Eventually, after many a half arsed apology, the purse appears and everything seems to be ok. It’s slowly opened like an accordion as the customer slowly picks through a selection of cards to rival Hallmark. I want to be clear: I have nothing against a hand bag (they’re FABULOUS,) but if you are in a situation where paying quickly is advantageous and you have your money literally buried, have some forethought and prepare yourself for on of the few things you need to do during our interaction. Please.

Change. The Placement of Said Change.

Some bartenders will whinge about change. I don’t care, it’s money. I’m not going to claim I’m higher than the process of counting. It’s what you do with that change that pisses me off:

– Holding it out in your grubby palm because YOU think you’re above counting it.*

-Holding out what is clearly not enough in the hope I’ll route through and magically find some pound coins.

-Tipping it onto the bar. You’re taking up room, time and my patience. Have you ever tried to pick a selection of tiny, flat metal objects off of a flat surface? Especially if it can get wet (yes i’m aware the bar top should be clean and dry but I’m too busy counting and picking up everyone’s money to clean it.)

*Sometimes tourists, new and oblivious to the currency, will hold out their coins with a clueless expression. I’ve been there myself, I may as well be holding lego pieces, they’re forgiven.

The Disappearing Act.

These are the guys who choose to socialise with everybody in the vicinity as soon as you’ve told them the total. It doesn’t take them two seconds to actually get the money from their pocket into your hand, but it’s an eternity between asking for the amount and it reaching the till.

“That’s £10 please”

They put their hand in their pocket and are about to pull out a tenner then someone taps then on the shoulder “OMG Paul! I haven’t seen you in years, let’s discuss everything that happened since our last meeting in depth… Don’t worry about that bartender glaring at me, we have plenty of time…”


The Literal Piss Takers.

Everyone knows these types of people. They’re the type of people that will order one or two drinks, NEVER ANY MORE, and as soon as they’ve ordered those drinks they hit you with the “I’m just going to the toilet, mate” and then off they go, to stand/sit in the toilets to urinate or defecate until they’ve relieved themselves, all the while you’re left on the bar with their two bottles of beer sat waiting for them and their money. If you move on and leave the beers on the back bar, you risk angering this person who was obviously just trying to save time by fucking off.


The Game Players.

You know who you are. You’re the people who play games with the payment. You’ll hold out your note and then playfully snatch it back. It’s all very well doing this – I’m no fun Nazi – but on the fifth time of doing it I’m ready to take that money and your fingers and give you no change or bones.


The Preppers

You’re the best of a bad bunch. Some of you have already bought a drink and know how much you need to hand over. So you count your change in advance to save time.

God bless you, you tried.

You understand how to pay for things. You get to the bar with a smug aura:

“I know what they’re about to ask me for, and I have it right here in my hand”

Unfortunately you’re in a big sweaty room and fluids leak through your palms at an alarming rate, some of that change may have fallen out or a few bits of shrapnel may have found their way into your mitts. You turn your hand upside down confidently, believing everything is going to go smoothly. What actually happens is the coins you hold fall out at a different rate depending on how long they’ve been gripped. The lowest denomination fall first leading to a disgusted expression from your bartender. Then one by one, (depending on surface area) coins fall from your well meaning downturned palm and the bartender is forced to keep count of a waterfall of coins in what could be compared to the most disappointing game of crystal maze.

We appreciate the gesture but sweaty metal is strange and unwanted.


Am I over reacting? Yes.

Am I alone in these over-reactions? No.

Essentially, you can never do anything right, and you might as well accept that. Leave your card stuck to your face and I’ll peel it off as and when I need it. Don’t go to the toilet before you’ve paid. Don’t turn around and converse with your friends for an hour. Don’t do ANYTHING.

I might need a nap.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s