Archive for September, 2008

Customers from hell

This is a bit lengthy, but is one of the best Customers From Hell stories I’ve ever seen. Well worth the read.

I used to work in a dockside bar that was, to put it mildly, a little rough.

It all began after I moved to this well-known (and utterly crap) port town. The town itself was bad enough, rammed full of ne’er-do-wells and a smorgasbord of freaks, but the closer you got to the port the worse the punters became. The vile clientele that poured through our doors was continuously topped-up thanks to the convenient location of the bar. It was the first watering hole the transients clattered into as they stepped off their ships onto terra firma. Some of our customers wouldn’t have looked out of place in a zoo and a couple still make me shudder when I remember how nauseating they were.

The bar itself was a monumental shithole. The drab interior got wrecked most weeks by the locals fighting with the fleeting (then fleeing) masses. The owner had tried to add a pointless touch of sparkle by hosting live acoustic jazz bands most nights, but the contrast between the music and the atmosphere was laughable. Imagine a clarinet concerto in the aftermath of the Brixton riots and you’ll be halfway there. My job as chief barman was without question the worst means of paying my rent I’ve ever had.

I’d only been working there for six months but I’d just about had enough, what with having to blindly ignore the constant criminal activity and put up with the ebb and flow of human detritus that wafted through. I’d developed a bit of a cunt’s attitude to my customers, as it was the only way to get through the nights. The final straw came on a particularly busy shift. To give you some idea of the kind of bullshit I had to put up with, earlier in the day I’d endured a full sweep of the place by the authorities to assist them with a fucking manhunt. It was definitely not shaping up to be a good evening. I was serving a particularly short-fused customer with the motley jazz band in full swing when the door swung open. I knew at once we were due for big trouble.

It was a group of four drifters who looked *completely* out of place; that is, they looked relatively normal compared to our usual patrons. The first problem was that two of the members of this group were obviously flaming homosexuals and this was *not* a gay-friendly bar. The taller chap was a sight to behold. He was worryingly camp, wearing a lurid gold outfit that Liberace himself would have sent back to the shop for being too ostentatious. The short, fat one was relatively straight-acting but I’d already made my mind up. This feckless bling-clad mincer and his stumpy companion were attracting exactly the wrong kind of attention from the burly crowd assembled in front of the bar. I had to do something quickly, so I made it clear that I wouldn’t be serving either of them. The young bloke in the group had a quick word and thankfully, the sad-faced queers retreated rapidly towards the exit in order to avoid what otherwise would’ve ended with a merciless beating. I felt bad, but it was better than clearing up their body parts.

The other two gentlemen stayed in the bar. The old fellow wandered over to one of our regulars and started chatting, which was a little strange as I knew the guy couldn’t speak English at all. It seemed that they were acquaintances though, so I turned away from the bar for a moment to collect my thoughts. Almost as soon as I’d turned around, I felt a tug at my shirt. It was the young guy again. He gave me an understanding nod but didn’t actually say anything. I still felt rather grateful and relieved for his swift help a few moments earlier, so I handed over a free drink which he silently accepted.

Barely ten seconds later, it all kicked off. One of the foreign dockhands in the bar spotted my act of charity for this stranger and took exception to his special treatment. I turned to see this fearsomely-ugly thug march over to shove him hard and begin a drooling tirade of unintelligible drunken aggression. One of the dockhand’s mates joined in with the intimidation tactics. They were both very drunk, but I overheard him slur something about a criminal record followed by a death threat. That was par for the course in this place. The young stranger kept cool, but the altercation had obviously unnerved the poor chap. Before he’d had a chance to think about retaliation, his elderly friend had left the chit-chat with my regular customer and stepped into the situation himself.

The old man tried his best to calm things down, but by now it was too far gone and a fight was ready to break out. Without any further warning, the dockhand’s mate grabbed the younger guy and flung him across the room into a table full of drinks. I spotted a gun being produced so I ducked behind the bar, where I then heard a terrifying scream. The commotion died down and I re-emerged to find the assailant lying on the ground, one arm completely severed and the old man standing there wielding a glowing energy sword. I watched blankly as he returned it to his belt, my customers continued with their business and the band continued playing their god-awful music as if nothing had even happened.

Like I said, it was a fucking shithole.

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Self-important bit

baby
I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.

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