Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bar Etiquette for the Holidays

Not me. This guy is working! ("Hollywood Capers" 1935)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS my friends! Here are just a couple friendly reminders on how to act and treat your bar staff when you are enjoying yourself out and about for the holidays. I am extremely lucky in that I rarely have issues where I bartend. I recognize that good behavior while at a bar is definitely a two way street. I will treat you with respect and I expect the same in return! Some of what is said is a lil' snarky but it's meant in good fun.

This blog is also for all of my bartending friends whether they work at a local bar, a restaurant chain, catering, a swanky restaurant, a ski lodge or a hotel chain. It can be a tough job. There are some written and some unwritten rules of the bar which will make your holiday, and mine, go a lot smoother.

Please don't curse. There may be kids present if the bar you are at may have a restaurant. I'll keep my mouth clean too.

This seems incredibly obvious but every other week someone finds it funny to start throwing things at the bar. It's NOT. I give you a warning and tell you to stop once. After that, don't expect me to be friendly. And if you are in the slightest way buzzed, I'm slowing you down. If it continues, you are being asked to leave the premises.

Don't stand on your bar stool or get on the bar. That should be obvious too. And if you fall back onto the floor, I'm gonna question your sobriety.

If we do not have your first choice of beverage at the bar, I am sure there is something else we have which you would like. We are not the Liquor-Mart in Delaware but we do have the basics. Look at the size of the establishment. Is it a small town bar? Is it a local Lodge or VFW? Is it a chain restaurant like Chili's? Is it an upscale restaurant or hotel like the Ritz-Carlton?

Make your choice keeping this in mind. You are most likely not gonna get a Pernod's or glass of Moet at the local dive bar. Settle for a frosty mug of beer, a good voddy tonic or rum 'n coke and you'll be just as happy. Don't expect a bar to have every flavor of vodka or whisky either. Most bars have their liquors within eyesight. Take a minute and look. Sorry, no bubblegum flavored vodka here.

I am allowed a break. I'm on my feet. LOL Don't harass me if I wanna take 5 minutes. Although I know that won't stop some of you ...

If we are jam-packed, it may not be the best time to ask me for drink suggestions. You will get a stare from me and I will suggest again a frosty mug of beer, a good voddy tonic or a rum 'n coke.

If I don't know what is in your drink choice, I may look it up in the bar book. Don't be offended. This is a part time gig and although I make a mean martini and an awesome Long Island Iced Tea, I don't know how to make everything. Even full time bartenders are always learning. So that means your pink alligator, blue whale, mind-eraser, or woo-woo may take a couple minutes longer.

If it's a packed bar, you will wait a couple minutes for a drink. Relax. I see you. I feel you staring at the back of my head. Say hi to someone and chill. I'll be right with you with a smile. I don't openly ignore people. Why would I do that? I know I'm gonna have to serve you anyway. Why would I want to jeopardize my tip? Take a breath and again, I'll be right with you.

Cheesy moustache & fellow bartender Spongebob
The hardest part of my job is deciding how to tell you that you've had too much to drink. Luckily it doesn't happen often. If you are getting too intoxicated, I may offer you a complimentary bottle of water or soda, or even something to eat. Take the hint and don't make a scene. I am attempting to slow you down without having to cut you off. If I do cut you off, I'm going to try and do it discretely, quietly, and not embarrass you. But if you create a scene, all bets are off and you'll be asked to leave without apology. REMEMBER THIS: I'd rather have you mad at me that night, but alive the next morning.

If you want a virgin cocktail and have no idea what you want, I'll suggest the ultimate virgin drink, water. I'll be honest, mock-tails are not my specialty. I can give you a Shirley Temple, a Roy Rogers, or a mix of fruit juices. Your pick?... oh yeah, water.

A good bartender will socially bounce around the bar, making small conversations here and there. Now I need to spend time with other patrons, making sure they are cool, doing the small talk thing with them as well. I like taking care of all my guests. I will also tend to scan the bar, making sure everyone's drinks are fresh. If my fellow workers need something, I will be ending the conversation temporarily to help them. Don't be offended. We are a business and I'm helping it run smoothly.

I am also not offended if you call me by my name for a drink. I'd rather you do it. IT'S MARC ... with a "C". There's a lot to do behind the bar and I could get caught up in other stuff like cleaning dishes, counting money, wiping off bottles, etc. So definitely learn your bartender's name and I'll try and learn yours, or at least your drink! I'd rather be called Marc than "YO!" And do not bark at me. If you bark at me, I turn on SELECTIVE HEARING.

We are SERVICE not SERVANTS. There is a major obvious difference. Remember that mutual respect thing I began the blog post with?

If you buy 10 shots for people, I have to make or pour the 10 shots and then wash the 10 shot glasses. So that means your next mug of beer may be a little delayed.

I never force alcohol on anyone. If they don't want your free drink, I am not gonna force it on them. That goes along with "buying" the bar a round of shots. If someone doesn't want it, I'm not gonna pour it.

In the same vein, don't feel obligated to buy rounds and rounds of free drinks just because everyone else is doing it. While I like high bar sales as much as the next guy, don't feel that you have to put yourself in debt just to match someone.

Be nice and polite if you ask for pretzels or peanuts. They are FREE. I don't mind putting them out (much to the chagrin of my bar manager, the Big Ragu). They also make you thirsty which helps me in the long run. (Come on.. you can figure it out. LOL)

I will be polite, respectful, and friendly to you even if you are ... let's see ... not a friend of mine (politically correct). There are a couple individuals out there I am ... not friends with. It's called LIFE. LOL. That's a good bartender though. I will still be "service with a smile".

BUT, if you are rude to me, all bets are off. I won't and shouldn't have to put up with rude behavior. If I see you be rude to one of my fellow servers, I am also gonna call you out on it. If you insult my fellow workers, assume that I will take their side. BE NICE. It's the holidays damn-it!

Try not to come to my bar in a bad mood. I recognize that if I'm in a bad mood and you're in a bad mood, it is infectious and brings down the overall mood of the bar. If I happen to be in a grumpy mood, I will try and get out of it, I promise. No one likes a surly bartender either. Not good for business.

In the same vein, don't play depressing songs on the juke box!!! no one wants to hear "Crying" by Roy Orbison or "Everybody Hurts" by REM on a fun Saturday night.

I will listen to your problems within reason but pleeeeze don't make it a therapy session. Otherwise, my bill will be in the mail. ;)

NOT ME. Cheesy movie. 
I saw this happen one night and I blew it off because I know the guy ... but SERIOUSLY, DO NOT STICK YOU HANDS IN MY TIP JAR and COUNT MY TIPS. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It is not done and not acceptable. In addition, don't put anything in my tip jar except tips. It's just a bit annoying.

Oh and I won't be tossing cocktails into the air, I ain't this guy from Cocktail.  Duh, LOL

Now listen ... I would not be doing this if I didn't still love bartending. Some of us have the "gift of gab" as it is called. I just love to socialize. That helps with bartending. But I also really love serving my customers, new and regular. I have probably the BEST PART TIME JOB in the WORLD!

I know I have said it before but I really mean it. I love the people who choose to hang out with me at the Lake Wynonah Lodge while I'm on bar. I am a VERY lucky guy.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Great Quote by Edgar Allan Poe

like reading this again when I am settling down in the evening to write with a beer, glass of wine, or bourbon by my side.

"Filled with mingled cream and amber, I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visitors clamber, Through the chamber of my brain - Quaintest thoughts - queerest fancies, Come to life and fade away; What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today." 
- Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lesson Learned as a Young Man

"Parvin State Park"

When I hike, my mind wanders. I was in the end stretch of a 7 mile hike on the Elk Trail in Elk County, PA when I thought back to one of the greatest lessons by my father that I have ever learned. Ironically on the Elk Trail, I saw no elk. I saw signs of elks: their scat, their prints in the mud, but no elk. I did see elk in pretty much everyone's front yard in Benezette and Weedville, PA though. The elk, as it seems, like to hang out in yards filled with grass, lazily munching away.

Back to the lesson from my father, it was and to this day, a memorable and important one. It stayed with me because it rattled my core. My father was disappointed in me. I learned from it and he forgave me. For that I am thankful. And I never forgot the lesson he taught me.

I was in Cub Scouts as a young boy. Went through the Webelos (between 10-12 yrs of age) and then onto Boy Scouts for a couple years. Dropped out. Wasn't for me. Moved on with life... ha-ha... my BUSY childhood life. During the time that I was in Webelos, I went camping with my troop with my Dad, my Uncle Carl, and my cousin Carl as well as several good close friends from Wenonah, NJ.

We camped at Parvin State Park in South Jersey. I think there were about 10 of us kids. One afternoon, the entire troop went on a 3 miles hike around the park. Dad and Uncle Carl treated the hike as a learning experience, showing us scouts (we were kinda pre-scouts) the nature, flora, and fauna of a Pine Barrens forest.

One of my best school buddies and I ignored my father's efforts to make it a group event and charged ahead like it was a race. We ignored my Dad's directives to slow down and remain with the troop. My friend and I decided to continue on ahead. And charge ahead we did, we completed the trail in record time. We left everyone in the dust. We won... or did we?

No, sadly, we did not. We won nothing except bragging rights over a group of kids that did not even care. How sad, we won bragging rights for ourselves.

It was supposed to be a learning group activity: observing the woods and surrounding swamp, living in the moment, observing nature. It was not a competition, it was not a race.

After the hike, I remember lying in my tent on my sleeping bag with my arms clasped behind my head all smug. My Dad came poked his head into my tent and stated to me sternly, "I'm very disappointed in you. It was NOT a race." I was crushed by my father's disappointment. I stayed in my tent awhile, thoroughly embarrassed by what had happened.

Eventually, I came outside and rejoined my fellow scouts by the fire. I don't know if my Dad said anything about it to my friend. It didn't matter though. The fact that he scolded me for something which should've been so obvious was meaningful enough. What he had said affected me and got through to me.

I looked at Dad and said I was sorry. Dad, in his always peaceful and calm voice said, "It's OK Marc, just learn from it."

I did. And this is one of those life lessons you learn from and apply it to events which occur down the road for the rest of your life. It was an important life
lesson from a kind loving father, my biggest influence besides my mother to this day.

Life goes by too fast. It's not a race. Take notice of what is around you. Look at the trees in the forest, not just the forest. Listen to the birds, the rustling of a squirrel running through the leaves. The smells of the woods, the mossy areas. Take heed of your sense. Apply this to life, your day to day existence.

Don't let the little things pass you by. While shopping at the supermarket, smell your veggies and fruit. I mean REALLY STOP AND SMELL those oranges! Pet your dog or cat. Feel how soft they are. How they purr or how happy they are that you are giving them affection. Cook your meal and actively admire how good it smells in your kitchen. Listen to music while cooking. Enjoy the jazz, classical, or classic rock. What ever turns you on!

Slow down, turn on your sense, and take a deep breath. You'll be a better person for it.

Friday, November 17, 2017


"Miss Moxie Don't Care About Adulting"  

I  put up a post on Facebook this evening where I stated "Not looking for sympathy ... maybe a lil. There are weeks I just don't feel like I do ADULTING well. :( " I feel like I need to elaborate FOR ALL OF US! It's is SO TOUGH! AND .. The kicker is that I DON'T EVEN HAVE KIDS!!!! lol How do YOU FOLKS do it???

With the immediate response on Facebook, I knew I needed to write a blog post about it. I've been enjoying myself so maybe the gin will help. LOL My Nana once said to me "Gin is the Devil's drink, and tonight I'm visiting the Devil!" Ha-ha, hopefully I won't be visiting the Devil tonight, just a little honesty and then bed.

It is really tough being an adult or ADULTING as we say these days. SO TOUGH this week. I find myself wanting to go back to the simplicity of my 20s.

Now overall I have it very lucky. I have a wonderful home, stable great (sometimes) job, and an  awesome relationship. But day to day life can be really tough sometimes. I try and juggle things and I find myself a mess. I often wonder how do people do it? How do they cope? I know others feel that way. I need to elaborate and let you know that I feel the same way. We feel it on different levels, but still, the same stress.

I know these are totally 1st world problems. I am FAR luckier than those in this world. But considering I am not a millionaire or billionaire like Bill Gates or Donald Trump, I feel like I have a right to bitch for a bit.

My commute this week has been horrible. An hour each way. Twice late into work this week due to accidents or traffic. I also got almost crunched by tractor trailers on the way home one night and then t-boned another evening. Just shook me to the core. I have been commuting to my government job an hour both ways for the last 13 years in two counties! It is so stressful.

Not to mention, I feel like I cannot get the yard work done. I get home at 5:30 PM or 6 PM and it's dark! I try and fit in yard work wherever I can. And I feel like my yard is crap compared to my retired neighbors who can do yard work during DAYLIGHT. I am not gonna rake leaves in the DARK! What ever will happen will happen on the weekend, so my dear neighbors, the yard work WAITS until the weekend! I know it sounds like I am knocking retired people,

I come home, try and do dishes, get the laundry done, try and clean a room or two, clean the cat box, do garbage, and THEN try and do gym. May I'll eat dinner at 8PM and then a drink or two before bed. Then REPEAT! Throw in doing bills on my breaks at work, fit in the grocery, fix up stuff CONSTANTLY at home, I am just besides myself.

I made a mistake on a bill this month, chose 11/22 for my cable bill payment, when it should've been 11/12 and Comcast was ready to shut off my ass. OH MY GOD!!!! WTF?!?!?!?!??! Are you KIDDING ME????? I get so exhausted, I forgo gym some days and try and try and focus on the house. Clean this room or clean that room. Try and keep up on the wash.

Oh and WHAT'S for DINNER? Did you pick up anything? Did I pick up anything? Whose turn was it? DOES IT MATTER? If it's my turn, I will pick cans of tuna or sauce and pasta EVERY NIGHT! What ever is EASIEST.

OK need to fill those damn bird feeders because the birds actually relax me unless those damn squirrels eat all the bird see and then I wanna go postal on the local wildlife!!! I also have a woodpecker eating the side of my house now. Sound familiar?

Oh and people say for me to further my relaxation like write more or play the piano more often (I took lessons 10 years). YEAH, clone me and then we'll talk about extracurricular activities. And remember, I am asking you to clone me. How ridiculous is that? I'm asking for a clone so I have time to do fun stuff.

And I need to replace the bulbs in the front hall way chandelier. So I drag the ladder out from the basement, set it up in the front hall way, reach up to get out the burnt out bulb. Replace the bulb from Home Depot which I spent $$$ on for three of them. The bulb F*CKING breaks OFF in the socket!!!! SO NOW.... I need to go to the basement, turn off the power so I can remove the broken bulb from the socket without electrocuting myself!!!! And then replace it AGAIN.

I'm exhausted this week AND AGAIN, I DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN! HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO IT???? This is nuts. There has to be a better way but I am just doing the minimum!!!

I am pretty good at time management. I just get into weeks where I suck at this thing called being an ADULT. I sometimes feel like I had a better handle on my life in my 20s when I was a simple waiter/bartender living on my tips week to week. Now I am in a government position making more than I was before. It doesn't matter, income is relative to what you are dealing with at the time. I just don't have the time!

What is that line from a rap song? Mo Money MO PROBLEMS?

I hate to say it, but that night-cap definitely helps destress me. Again, I have it FAR easier than others. I feel for what they go through. But... back to me. LOL Dealing with stress sucks. But thinking about how hard others have it while writing this blog ... it tempers me a bit. I will try and remember I have it pretty well. Stress still f*cking sucks though. GOD, give me strength....

This is for all my friends who feel the same way:

Please share what you are dealing with! Misery definitely loves company!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What to Toss, What to Keep

Miss Moxie is not helping me.

After staring at the pile of paperwork on my desk at home, I grew frustrated over my pack-rat self. I was determined to change my ways!! Time to shred and purge!
I clip articles hoping to read them, collect brochures from places I wanna visit, rip recipes out I wanna make, save birthday cards from years ago, etc. My Mom saved everything so I know she is who I got this “urge to save” from. And then there are the magazines and books I think I am going to read someday...

Any magazines around the house I try and toss or forward onto someone after I’ve read them pretty thoroughly. Books or magazines I haven’t read 'Im trying to be more proactive and donate them to friends, family, or a library. If I have not read those clipped articles in a year, I toss ‘em. A couple I kept and moved them from the pile to my nightstand or magazine rack in the bathroom. Ha-ha. Perfect night time or “private” bath time reading. J
With regards to all of those countless travel brochures, I think I’m going to make a running list of the places that I want to visit and keep it on my desk top on the home computer or the fridge. This way I can always glance at it, add to it, cross off, etc. No need to keep all those brochures. (OK, already going through brochure withdraw over here...)

For example, I’ve wanted to go to the Reading Public Art Museum for years and I keep grabbing brochures. I found three brochures of the same museum! Time to figure out another strategy to reduce unnecessary paperwork. Now this though, will be VERY hard as everyone who knows me, know how much I love collecting brochures since I was a wee little lad.

I’ll keep birthday cards from just my immediate family. If one is from a close friend with a nice personal note, I’ll hold onto that one too. Any other miscellaneous birthday or holiday cards, I’ll toss. Do I really need to save a birthday card from Joe-Shmo at work from  3 years ago? Nah, sorry Joe. I barely know ya.

Where do I draw the line with old bills, bank statements, pay stubs, and tax info? That’s another pile of past paper I was staring at. Most past billing statements can be retrieved online so what I do know is pay the bill, check it’s been paid online and reflected in my balance, and then shred the statement. And listen, before you question me that I am still receiving paper bills, I can’t help myself. I’m Old School baby! I have turned about half of my bills over to electronic or online billing. I’m not ready to take the full jump yet...

With bank statements, it’s the same deal. Everything can be found online these days. I kept some general info about each bank I had an account at, notices, terms and conditions, etc. The past statements have been shredded and tossed.

I’ve kept one pay stub from each previous job. Just so I have the company info if I ever need it, or the last pay rate. I embarrassingly actually had EVERY pay stub from when I started at Lehigh County over 8 years ago!!! Why was I keeping all of these papers!? I got rid of the majority and have just kept my very first one (for posterity LOL) and pay stubs from the current year.

The most depressing thing? Comparing my wages from 2009 to 2017. How sad. Now county public service careers are a great stable jobs but the ongoing financial incentives are pretty meager. Par for the course as I always knew private sector pays more than public.

Now with tax paperwork I just file away and pretty much keep forever. I’ve heard you can toss after 7 years and I’ve read you can toss after 3 years. I’m not taking any chances with the Feds. I’ll be buried with my old tax returns.

Below is a link to a great article by Suze Orman on financial clutter and what you should keep and what you should get rid of. It’s not the Bible of it all but nonetheless, a damn good guide. Hope it helps. It gave me a great place to start. 

Hmmmm…. But I don’t see ANYTHING about tossing travel brochures so I think I’m gonna still keep hoarding them. J

What paperwork or other items do you find yourself keeping?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Incredible Quote by Maya Angelou

This has always moved me. 

You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.

by Maya Angelou (1928-2014), American poet and activist

My Love Affair with Bugles is Exposed!

The Devil's Snack

I had a tough commute tonight. I hit rush hour which extended my normal commute of 1 hour to just under 2 hours. It wasn't an accident thank God. It wasn't construction. It was just blasted traffic! Grrr. Not even anything crazy to look at. Prior to hitting the jam, I ended up stopping at the local quick gas/coffee/convenience store right before the highway. Picked up the necessities: gas, coffee, and a snack for the ride home.

In this case, it was a 14.5 oz bag of my favorite childhood munchies, BUGLES! OH GOD I loved them!!! Well I hit major traffic and everything stopped. I had already had a handful of the Bugles. They were sitting on the passenger seat JUST STARING AT ME. I mean like just mocking me, tempting me to eat them. 

Ok I just had one hand full, then another, and still ANOTHER. By the time I hit Shartlesville.... yes that's the name LOL, I ate 90% of the bag. So what did I do, I asked Google how many calories were in each bag ... 1120 calories!!! Um. I'm feeling like a pig right now and a bit sick. I'd be seeing a different Shartlesville pretty soon. Ha-ha! 

What's a gym rat to do? Well work it off. But why oh why did I do it in the first place? 

I'm HUMAN. I love salty snacks. I had a tough day and needed some comfort food! Don't give me Oreo's or chocolate (unless it's dark chocolate). Give me salty crunchy snacks! That's my thing! That's my craving! It's crazy right? I guess not really. We seemed to be programmed to go after snacks which we LOVE like sweet or salty. I like crunchy and salty. Chips, peanuts, chips, more chips. etc. 

The guilt came over me. I've been SO GOOD. And I threw it away with over 1000 calories of snacks in a single serving! First off, remember I said we are human? Gotta accept it. We break down, even the craziest of us gym rats. I need to forgive myself. I am trying. 

Now what to do about those friggin' calories? Well washing dishes helps. LOL So does laundry. Maybe a little yard work... does sweeping the deck count? 

OK, I know, I am putting it off. I hit the gym at 7pm with a belly full of Bugles. They were SO GOOD but I knew I needed to get on top of this fast. 

I spent an hour at the gym on the elliptical and worked off  500 calories. Good start. Again ... I (WE) am human. I (WE) will have minor setbacks. Wrestle with your conscious but physically MOVE on that sh*t! Get on top of it before it becomes an unwieldy weight. I know it's tough and it means more work out. You gotta just work through that guilt. I'm with YOU! It sucks! 

I hate myself for eating an entire bag of BUGLES! LOLOL I laugh just thinking of it. But I gotta work it off. I'm halfway there. I'll have a couple of tough workouts. On days I spend only doing weights, I'll throw in cardio to work off an extra 100-200 calories. It'll be worked off by the next week. 

I ended up having a very light dinner due to my snacking. I enjoyed a Progresso Tuscan-Style White Bean soup at 260 calories. That helped. A little more sodium than I'd want for my intake but more water diluted that as well. 

It's tough people! I've been eating so healthy these last couple weeks. I got a craving and I satisfied it. Remember, 4th time, we are human. I beat myself up. You need to hold yourself accountable. But don't beat yourself up too much. Just hold yourself accountable and make changes to correct the missteps. 

Establish a social network of friends who also work out to keep you in check. I have that. But I decided to call the Bugles instead. LOL  GOOD LUCK on your workouts. I am with you in your highs and lows. :)