I Worked In A College Bar And Saw Things I Can’t Unsee

college bartender KK

In college bars, the customers are considered especially rowdy. On campuses throughout the country, the dedicated servers who assist these vicious alcoholics are members of an elite squad known as bartenders. This is one of their stories.

I tended bar in college for two reasons: I wanted money, and I wanted to devote my life to alcohol. Rolling those two desires together and calling it a profession spoke to me on a spiritual level. So, on a particularly sunny morning in September, I waltzed into the grimiest, grungiest shit hole on the strip and asked for a job. I had zero food service or waitstaff experience, answered a question in the interview with “well, I drink a lot,” and was still wearing jorts from the day before. They hired me on the spot and told me to report to “training” at 10 a.m. the following morning. Thus, my career as a cocktail servant began. 

As a bartender in a college dive bar, I was exposed to some of the most fucked up shit that humanity is capable of doing. From a guy beating himself with an empty Bud Light bottle and laughing when it broke across his chin to a psychopath who repeatedly painted Banksy-esque murals on the bathroom stall walls in human shit, there seemed to be no limit to the debauchery performed by drunken assholes. Each night was a new adventure, filled with every brand of depravity imaginable.

A couple months into my work, I was given the opportunity to work the Saturday night shift. I jumped at the offer; every bartender on the staff wanted to work Saturday nights because ownership ran a $10 all-you-can-drink promotion to drag people out of their post-gameday comas and into the bar. It was the hottest and most profitable night of the week, which meant the most tip money for the drink jockeys.

My first Saturday started out pretty tame. There were a few patrons standing around the TVs we had set up in the corners of the dance floor, but as a whole it looked less populated than a WNBA regular season game. For the first few hours, I only made 14 drinks. But right at 10:30, attendance exploded. Groups of people came in at once, making a beeline toward the staff in order to start the gradual process of getting smashed out of their fucking minds. I bounded up and down the length of the bar, the regular orders for whiskey-cokes and tequila sunrises punctuated by the occasional alumni demanding brand name liquor for their special cocktails.

Amid my flurry of activity, I became acutely aware of a certain kid in the throng of buzzed customers that looked like he had recently graduated middle school. I mean, this kid could have been in a Nickelodeon commercial advertising Pull-Ups; that’s how young this little shitbag appeared to be. But every time I saw him, he had a drink in his hand. The bar I worked in had a well-known underage drinking problem, and normally, I wouldn’t give a shit about some 19-year-old ordering a beer. I worked in a college town, for fuck’s sake. Plus the guys out front checked IDs; my job was to serve the people inside. However, we couldn’t have a fucking Gerber baby getting slammed here, so in-between making drinks, I scanned the crowd for him. 

I finally caught a glimpse when the horde of people in front of me separated to go dance to “Cupid Shuffle.” He was on the dance floor attempting to grind on a girl that clearly wanted no part of his advances — probably, in part, because “Cupid Shuffle” is maybe the worst song to grind to ever. I watched as he tried to maneuver himself up to her as she slowly edged away, making faces to her friend as she moved to escape him. I reached for the flashlight I had to shine on people I wanted security to deal with, but I paused. I saw the girl stop migrating away from the kid and instead turn to face him. She leaned in and said something to him, then took her arm, rotated it once around like a softball pitcher, and slammed it into his crotch. 

Her arm stuck there like it was fucking super glued; she had clearly latched onto the vulnerable bits hanging down there in some kind of vice grip punishment for infringing on her personal space. The look of agony that immediately spread across the kid’s face made me take an instinctive step backward. He had taken a fucking uppercut to the nut sack; I could only imagine the amount of pain the kid was in. She held her hand there for what seemed like over a minute, yelling over the roar of the music what I assume was a full critique of his existence as a human being before finally releasing her grasp.

What happened next has confused me for years. After she finished checking him for prostate cancer, he proceeded to take his wallet out of his back pocket, give her some amount of cash, and leave the bar through the front entrance. The girl went back to dancing with her friend, looking completely content with how the situation played out. What the fuck was that?

Bartending gave me a new perspective on the world of alcohol; namely that it fucking sucks dealing with drunk people while not drunk myself. Not to say I never drank on the job, because I sure as shit did, but the stupid stuff like fingering a plastic shot glass doesn’t resonate with me unless my faculties are shot. I have always wondered what the fuck that kid paid her for; I like to think she demanded some kind of ransom in exchange for not removing his genitals, but I can’t be sure. No matter why the payment was made, I think he went back to his buddies having learned a valuable lesson: no matter where you go, always carry cash.

Image via YouTube/UW-Hollywood Badgers. The people photographed are not in any way associated with the story.