Life in Crystal Beach
Episode 5: Bartender’s Revenge

Crystal Beach businesses generate the greatest part of their revenue from tourism. That means that summers are extremely important for the economy.  To motivate tourists to come to the village, besides having a neat beach, the community holds festivals.  In May alone we have three special events: the Crab Fest, Go Topless Jeepers Weekend and Memorial Day.  Without doubt the biggest weekend is the Go Topless event. Thousands of jeeps invade our little community bringing with them cash and chaos.  Now, don’t misunderstand, “topless” refers to the jeeps being without their tops, not females being without theirs. However, most of the time, by the end of the weekend, you see both! 

This particular year was a big one.  Some people estimated that there were as many as 13,000 jeeps in town. As far as I was concerned there were at least a million! The Tiki Beach Bar and Grill was wall-to-wall jeepers from morning to morning! Booze flowed like Niagara Falls.  The kitchen was hotter than hell as food was consumed in mass quantities. The party was on.  You see, as far as I could tell, the idea of the weekend was to drive along the beach to show off your jeep to all of the other jeepers who were showing off their jeeps. However, there were so many jeeps on the beach that no one was going anywhere.  There were jeeps parked along the surf and jeeps parked along the dunes creating a small roadway down the middle for other jeeps that were trying to maneuver through the maze of parked jeeps. Further complicating the situation was the fact that the sand was deep and soft and those who didn’t have four-wheel drive were getting stuck at the entrance to every beach access road so no one could get off of the beach.  The result was gridlock! 19 miles of a lot of people going nowhere! But no one seemed to care.  They just turned up the music, drank beer and danced on the beach.  Of course, the more they drank the less inhibited they became. It wasn’t long before the beach looked like a scene out of Girls Gone Wild. Bikini tops fell to the ground like leaves in the fall. Unfortunately, those who were willing to show it all were those who shouldn’t show it at all! Intoxicated bodies washed to the shore like schools of beached whales. Women were hugging men that they would later regret. And the few children who were unfortunate enough to be there were wandering the beach trying to figure out where all the adults had gone. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone was inebriated. Those who were still sober were enjoying the show and taking pictures to post on social media.  Needless to say, a good time was being had by all, but would be remembered by only a few.

It was against this backdrop that my story unfolds. Thursday evening was bearable. While it was crowded, a lot of the jeepers still hadn’t arrived.  The bar was crowded as was the restaurant. Friday evening, however, was quite a different scene.  The place was packed as was every other restaurant/bar in town. The waitresses struggled to make their way through the throngs of customers.  The noise level had reached about a thousand decibels. I looked for earplugs but none were to be found so I wadded up a couple of pieces of a napkin and stuck them in my ears to keep from going deaf.  The bar was jammed with people standing three deep with everyone wanting immediate attention.  You see, the problem with a lot of visitors is that they don’t understand the beach mentality.  Down here we work and live on beach time.  That means. “I’ll get to it when I damn well get to it!” Those who don’t understand that concept tend to get a little pissed off when they don’t get immediate service or if you don’t act like you’re as happy as hell that they stopped by.

So, I was slinging the liquor as fact as I could.  Just a little side note here: some people don’t realize that it’s not a good idea to upset a bartender.  If you yell at me there’s a good chance that your drink won’t have a full shot of alcohol or that a dirty finger might find its way into your can of beer. It’s the same way with being ugly to a waiter or waitress.  When they bring your food, a lot can happen between the kitchen and the table.

Things went like that all night.  Finally it was midnight and my shift was over. I got my shit together and walked out of the still crowded bar.  I was crossing the parking lot when a guy yelled at me from a nearby jeep.  He and two of his girly friends were standing behind a gaudy purple and green $60,000.00 jeep.  It doesn’t matter how much money you have, you can’t buy good taste.  So this guy yelled at me so I walked over to see what he wanted. 

“You owe me twenty bucks,” he said with slurred speech.
“Why is that?”
“Because when I got my check tonight I gave you a twenty-dollar bill instead of a one so you owe me twenty bucks.” He blinked but his eyelids stayed shut so long I thought he’d fallen asleep or passed out.
“Sorry, but I don’t make that kind of mistake.” I assured him.
“Yeah? Well tonight you did and I want my money,” he insisted.
“If that did occur, it’s the restaurant that owes you, not me,” I replied in a soft controlled voice.
“Look, stupid, you owe me twenty bucks and I plan to get it!” he was getting a little agitated. I could tell by the amount of spit that flew out of his mouth when he talked.
“Okay, look,” I said. “If you gave me a twenty instead of a one then you are owed nineteen dollars not twenty because the twenty was meant to be the one that you owed.”
“What? What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I said, if you thought the twenty was a one then you owed the one and so you would be owed nineteen dollars not twenty.” The math seemed to puzzle him.
“I want my twenty bucks!”
“Nineteen, I think.” I could tell he wasn’t following my logic.
“Jesus H. Christ! Then give me nineteen fucking bucks!” he yelled as he threw one arm up in the air almost taking out one of his girly friends. I took my wallet out and opened it.
“Sorry, I don’t have change.”
“All I have is a twenty.” I said calmly.
“Fuck!” he screamed, “then just give me the goddamn twenty bucks!”
“But you’re only owed nineteen. Do you have a dollar?” I asked sincerely.
“You’re a fuckin’ idiot did you know that?”
“Well, maybe, but I can still do simple math,” I remarked.
“A fuckin’ smartass! Give the twenty or I’ll bust your face in!” he yelled louder.

I believe there are a lot of people who think volume supersedes intelligence. They seem to think if they say things louder then no one will know that they’re stupid.

I kept thinking someone else would come out of the restaurant and quiet him down but the few people who did come out of the bar just looked over and drove off.  I suppose there is some kind of camaraderie among these folks, an unspoken agreement to let drunken fools act like drunken fools. I reached in my wallet and took out a twenty.  Before I could hand it to him he grabbed it out of my hand. 

“Fuckin’ sucker!” he and his entourage laughed that little “I won one over on you” laugh as they got into the jeep. As they did, I made a mental note of the license plate number.  Also, when they drove off, I noticed that one of the taillights wasn’t working. Now you have to know that a bartender meets a lot of people.  And if some of those people come into the restaurant a lot you get to know them pretty well.  Our local constable was one of those who had become a good acquaintance.  I also knew that he was working the beach that evening.  So I gave him a call.  I told him that one of our customers had had three beers and four shots of tequila; that we had cut him off but his friends continued to give him their shots. When he drove off he was weaving like a snake. I told him that I was afraid that he might hurt someone if he was trying to drive after having that much alcohol.  I also mentioned that he had a broken taillight. I knew that would give him a reason to pull the asshole over. Much to my delight, he said that he was in the area. I told him what street the jeep had gone down to get to the beach. He was glad to get the information.

The whole incident was shit.  I mean, I lost twenty bucks! You know, stealing money from a bartender is like stealing money from a homeless guy! I figured revenge was all I had left.
Turns out that Chris, our constable, got to the beach but, like everyone else, got stuck in the traffic jam.  However, he managed to maneuver his way to about three jeeps from the gaudy purple and green monster.  Sure enough, the taillight was burned out. Just at the time that Chris was about to turn on his emergency lights and make a move, the guy’s two girly friends stood up in the jeep and pulled down there bikini tops for a group of guys sitting near the dunes holding up a sign that read, “Show Us Your Tits”.  They did and Chris saw it all…or saw them all. I’m not sure what the big deal is about breasts.  You’ve seen one you’ve seen them both!

Needless to say, the evening didn’t turn out well for the asshole who got my twenty. Let’s see, I think the violations included: indecent exposure, driving while intoxicated, an open container, and, oh yeah, a broken taillight.

When the asshole sobered up, if he remembered any of the evening at all, he and his little group will have learned several important lessons: don’t drive when you drink, don’t drop your top in front of a cop, and don’t piss off a bartender!