Bar stories: In which I (accidentally) insult Vinnie Sunseri

The bar where I work is notorious for having regulars who like to give the bartender a hard time. Nothing too serious, but it’s normal to have some insults or other banter being tossed at you while you’re slinging drinks. You have to develop a thick skin–and be snappy with a comeback of your own.

It’s kind of an ideal situation for me. I can give as good as I get, most nights, and the clientele (usually) enjoys it when I spar with them. Sometimes I may go a little too far. Last night was one of those nights.

It’s been busy this week. Finals week at The University of Alabama, and once the kids are done with classes they like to let off a little steam. Understandable, right? Last night I had several enormous guys come in the bar. Figured they were football players, no big deal. Football players at UA are rarely public partiers. They were in to have a good time, and I carded the guys who were drinking to make sure they were of legal age. Nice guys. No trouble at all.

A little while later, they’re joined by a friend. I was busy with other customers, refilling pitchers, yadda yadda. So their friend, this little guy, tries to help me out by telling me a pitcher is about to overflow. I’d had my eye on it and closed the tap with a dismissive wave of my hand. That’s when I shouted over to him:

“Hey, I don’t tell you how to run the drive-thru at McDonald’s, so you don’t tell me how to do my job, ok?”

His buddies cracked up, and to his credit, the kid laughed, too. I go over to see what he needs, and then he straightens up. Oops. This guy is several inches taller than me and muscled out. Yikes. He orders a white Russian. I check his ID.

Sonofabitch. It’s Vinnie Sunseri. Starting safety for the Alabama Crimson Tide. You know, that team that’s playing to win a BCS championship in a few weeks. I apologized to him and told him I’m a smartass to everyone, wished the players luck in the title game.

Of course, I charged him for his drink, too. The players seemed to have a good time, and I hope everyone was cool with them hanging for awhile. I’m sure it can’t be easy in Tuscaloosa. If you’re a football player here, you are a celebrity — with all the baggage that word carries. It’s hard to go out and have a good time if all eyes are on you.

Of course, Vinnie got the last word with me–kind of.

He left without tipping. That’ll teach me.

Roll Tide anyway!

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