Many of you may be asking yourself – what in the heck is The Desert? Those of you in the bar industry already know, but most people know the desert as a scorching area with endless miles of sand; the sun beats down on you and there’s nothing to drink in sight. Well, when a customer is either being an a-hole, just plain difficult, or not tipping all night they go to The Desert. Since we do not posses the ability to ship rude people to an actual desert, we simply put them in a place where we can keep them mentally. Consider it a bar time out. For example, if you approach me in a defensive manner about a problem with your drink while giving me attitude, rather than give me the chance to actually assist you, you might get placed in The Desert. I would notify my fellow bartenders that you’re in The Desert and you will not be served until we feel the need to remove you from The Desert. I’ll put it plain and simple: we are going to flat out ignore you because you’re being a prick. We are not trying to out-jerk any of these newfound Desert-dwellers because, let’s face it, we can’t win some of those battles. Us bartenders have little power when it comes to rewiring a customer’s poor attitude – we can’t force you to be a better tipper or a nicer person – but we can stop serving you.
Busy bars clearly have the upper hand in this situation. Since there are several people waiting to order their drinks, it’s better for me to take my chances on someone new. I’ve got a 50% chance to get someone new who tips with decency, rather than the 100% certainty of a bad attitude and no tip with the previous jerkoff. If you have stiffed me on tips all night or been rudely demanding, it’s more satisfying for me to ignore you. Being rude back to you is only going to add fuel to your fire and force me to waste unnecessary time on you. However, if I ignore you it’s going to piss you off but in a way that doesn’t further piss me off. Since my life doesn’t need your drama, I get to just walk away and let you fester with anger. People don’t like to wait, especially in a bar. The icing on the cake: I’ve shared your Desert status with my fellow bartenders so no matter where you go, everyone will ignore you.
I know some bartenders ignore pissy customers because they’ve got their head too far up their own ass, but most will ignore you for a purpose. Know you are an asshole but don’t know how to change? Try to not start off by being rude and thinking of yourself all the time. Have your order ready because Im the one working and busy here. Then try throwing down a worthy tip to show you know I’m working hard for you. Trust me, taking care of your bartender will always work to your benefit, especially if you become a regular. A bartender always remembers a good tipper and will go out of their way to give you preferential service! If these concepts remain too elementary for you, what goes around comes around. Next in line!