That Time I Punched Some Guy In The Face

I’m behind the bar, late show, medium-sized crowd. Guy comes up, he seems familiar. Not in a good way. Fellow bartenders will relate to this. You deal with a difficult customer, then time passes, you forget. Then they come back, but you can’t quite pinpoint your past experience with them. 

But you recall it being not good. 

He seems ok at the present moment. He starts a tab, but there’s something wrong with his card. Its got a chew mark on one corner of it. 

He says, my card’s fucked up, man. My dog chewed it. When you run it, just fucking run it, man. Hard. Break it, I don’t care. 

I think for a second, trying to understand his logic. I say, so you want me to break it, so you can get a new one?

My words don’t seem to register. He just repeats himself. When you run it, don’t hold back. Just fucking run it. I say, do you want me to run it now?  He says, no. Start me a tab. 

I start him a tab. 

Whatever. He seems a bit intoxicated, not too bad. 

About an hour later, he strolls up to the bar. He says, run my card, man. Just fucking break it. 

I’m not going to do that. 

I grab his card, it’s like a $26 tab, I run it, it gets stuck in the slot. I try again. Nope. Not going to happen. I look at the card. Yeah, the chew mark is on the strip. There is no way it’s going to run. 

I turn back to him, say, it’s not running. Do you have any cash?  He says, was it declined?!?!  I say, no, man. It won’t run. It’s fucked, you need a new card. He says, just run it. Fuck it up, I don’t care. 

AHHHHH this guy. 

Sir, you don’t understand…

Whatever. I’ll type in the numbers. 

Typing in the numbers is a pain in the ass. First you have to be able to read the numbers. That’s difficult with the dim light, and the wear and tear on the card. 

4…2…6…I think that’s a…7…3…

Then you got the damn expiration date. Who knows what that says. 

I finish typing all the numbers, now I’ve forgotten what his tab total is. I recount…

$26. I enter, get the receipt, give it to him, say, thanks for coming in tonight. Really appreciate it. 

As sincerely as I possibly can. 

He signs it, then walks away. 

Five minutes later, he comes back, says, I want to buy a shot. 

Deep breath. Deep breath. I’ve got three people waiting for drinks. I say, what do you want? He says, what’s your well vodka?  I don’t answer, I just go get a shot glass, pour the vodka in, put it in front of him, say, here you go, man. On me, don’t worry about it. 

There is no way I’m going to deal with his card for a shot of well vodka. 

I walk away, he yells, HEY!!!  Oh my God, I’m gonna flip on this guy. I go to him, say, yesssss? He says, what’s this?  I say, shot of well vodka. On me, don’t worry about it. He says, I don’t want a shot of well vodka. I want something else. I say,


You asked for a shot of vodka, I’m giving it to you for free. He says, I don’t want it. I want something else. 

I’m losing it. 

Fine, I say. What do you want?  He says, I don’t know. 


I’ll take a Mandarin Soda. I make it for him, set it down, walk away, go help another customer. Thank God that’s over. 

Two minutes later, I see him waving his hands at me. I go over to him, he leans in, says, 

This drink’s too strong for me. I want another. 

-Clint Curtis


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