If you’ve spent any amount of time browsing the internet in the past two years, I know you’ve happened across the plethora of brilliantly sarcastic, occasionally brutal, and all too poignant memes and messages surrounding appropriate interactions between customer service professionals and our patrons (and if you haven’t, fret not! I’ve linked a bunch in this blog. #yourewelcome). Us lucky pub folk are certainly no exception from the asinine expectations some guests (and the occasional over-confident co-worker) have of us. In the present climate of men from every industry imaginable being exposed for their inappropriate conduct on the job, the IHB powers that be found it timely to put out the message (and this is from the Big Guy himself): we “will not be tolerating any of that shit”.
My personal thoughts on the matter are enough to fill volumes, which I believe few people are likely to read, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. For some godforsaken reason, kindness (especially – though not exclusively – from women) is frequently misinterpreted as sexual attraction. This in itself is problematic, as I firmly believe it discourages many people from being their kindest selves (also, what a leap to make!). It is especially problematic in the service industry… especially when that service involves alcohol. While I am optimistic enough to believe that people are not coming to this conclusion maliciously, I am also so far beyond “over it” that my tolerance for it is down to none (I can send references, if you don’t believe me). This is a problem on a cultural level, and it definitely exists on levels far beyond my industry. Like, seriously, 2017 brought out all the dirt. This is clearly an issue that is ready to be pressed; and I am so ready to press it.
So what can we do to change things?
We cousins are so lucky to work for a company that promotes a culture of direct, honest, and kind communication. This affords us the opportunity to speak our minds when we feel we are being misunderstood, and to stand our ground when we know we are being disrespected. Iron Horse is truly unique in that I have never felt my position in the company was at risk when I’ve had to tell a disrespectful human turd to take a hike (not that it happens a LOT). The pub is a super fun place for all kinds of people to kick back, relax, and blow off some steam. It’s nice to be able to cut loose and just hang out. One of my favorite things to say about the pub is that there are no strangers there ever; whether you’re mug club, a cousin, or passing through because you fell in love with Irish Death at your step sister’s mother’s second wedding – we are stoked to see you at the pub and we are excited for you to enjoy your time there. It is also where many of us work. That means that when we are there, we have a job to do. Here are a few tips (that I am shocked need to be said at all) for how to conduct yourself while you occupy this space:
- Do not touch people without their clear consent. If you find yourself thinking, “I wonder if it would be okay for me to give my server a backrub right now…” the answer is very likely “no”. If you find yourself wondering if your server would appreciate a good, old-fashioned ass grab… the answer is very likely still “no”. I don’t want to put out the idea that the pub’s servers are cold hearted, loveless people who detest physical contact with other humans, but keep in mind that we are AT WORK. And even if you weren’t I’m sure we would all appreciate for you to ask permission before touching us anyways. Think about what “appropriate physical contact” means within your own workplace; use that.
- Do not come behind the bar or into the kitchen. These are private workspaces for the pub employees. You taking up space in either of them interferes with our ability to do our work, and can also pose safety and legal risks for you and the pub.
- Don’t swear at us or treat us like garbage. We are actually humans at work, and our job is to make sure you enjoy your time in our establishment. That does not mean we wont ask your rude self to leave if you get lewd, aggressive or condescending with us. Choosing to work in the service industry does not void our rights as people to speak up for ourselves and others when we are disrespected. And yes, you may speak to my manager; she’ll tell you the same thing.
- Please do not roll into the pub complaining that “you don’t know what is okay to say/do around people in this climate”. It makes you look like a true douche canoe and it makes me have to painfully resist mocking you. If you’re truly perplexed as to how to interact with the people around you, just remember this as the foundation for all of your decision making: ask first. Don’t know if it’s appropriate for you to ask about someone’s personal life? Try, “hey, do you mind if I ask about _______?” If the answer is yes, don’t do it. Not sure if it’s okay for you to hug your server? Ask. If the answer is no, don’t do it. Easy peasy, right?
So there it is, a list of things I can’t believe needed to be said. Please keep them in mind next time you visit us at the pub, or pretty much any time you are interacting with people. Ever. In my experience, all of my pub cousins are fantastic people who really only want to spread the magic of indie beer and make sure each guest who comes into the pub leaves with a positive story to remember us by. Help us out by behaving like a civilized human. Thanks!