I was over at Aztec Willies in NE Portland a couple of Saturdays ago getting some blood money from my ex-husband. We have been going there for over 11 years, and it's sort of a neutral ground for us, so it seemed a safe place to meet. Our friend K. bartends there, and is a very good, very friendly, very efficient bartender. She knows how to pour a drink, and can keep the flow going when she's swamped.
It's an eastside bar, and during the day is a mix of old and young, multi-cultured, single, married, divorced, coupled people. It's usually a mellow place to hang out. They have salsa on the weekends, so the crowd radically shifts, but for the most part it's a hang out for the regulars after work.
On this particular Saturday people were starting hard-core by 2:00pm. There was a five-top of ex-biker babes slamming margaritas, some sad writer in the corner drinking jaeger shots with Papbst backs, and a group of overmetrosexualized men, and their Pussy Cat Dolls wannabe friend sitting at the bar being complete shits. They were sending their drinks back, telling K. they weren't strong enough, being rude to the mostly hispanic staff trying to help K. get set up, and just being complete twunts. I was trying to figure out what the deal was, and then in overhearing their conversation found out they were all bartenders from the westside. Their kind usually don't make it over to the eastside establishments.
There has been on ongoing discussion in a couple of the Portland blogs about tipping and treating service industry people with a modicum of respect. What I don't understand is bartenders going to other people's bars and acting like assholes to the barstaff. It's pretty much a given if you complain about your drinks not being strong enough they are just going to get weaker. If you grab the barback who barely speaks english, and tell him to "fix my drink, this one isn't good enough" while the bartender is in back getting ice, he'll do it, but he'll also tell the bartender in spanish exactly what you did. You would think these people would know this and act accordingly.
I don't know if they are frustrated with having to serve the bitchy westside women who get drunk on two appletinis, or whatever the latest trendy drink is, and then go skin surfing in their Manolo Blahnik's once they're out the door. It also may be a heightened sense of self-worth when these women sit and flirt with them, or their husbands flirt with them in a desperate attempt to see if all the botox, facelifts, bulimia, hairplugs, etc. are achieving the desired effect.
This is not a common occurance. The Portland service community is very supportive, and normally bartenders are going to be some of the better tippers, and treat their fellow bartenders with the respect they deserve. For some reason it just seems that a small group of self-involved jerks seem to choose Aztec. I can't tell if it's because it's sort of an upscale bar that doesn't take itself too seriously, or that it's just on the eastside of town. I've seen the same type of person knock over an ashtray, breaking it and spilling cigarette butts all over the floor, and tell the bartender they need to stop what they're doing and clean up the mess. I've seen them bring an almost completely empty giant margarita to the bar and inform the bartender that there wasn't enough alcohol in the drink and they want a refund. It's truly appaling. I have had to mouth off to some of these idiots because the bartenders can't say or do anything about it.
My whole point is treat your fellow bartenders with some respect. If you are a customer, and you're sitting watching any of this type of behavior, call them on it. So what if they give you a dirty look or tell you to mind your own business. I can tell you that the majority of these people are not regulars, and the bartender is not going to be upset if they lose this person's business. You might even get a free shot out of the deal from the other customers who are just trying to enjoy themselves and don't want to put up with a bunch of bratty behavior. Also, just because someone kisses your ass trying to get free drinks or your phone number you aren't a god or a goddess, you are a bartender, so show some respect to your brethren.