There is never a dull moment as a bartender. Liquid courage and loosened tongues often cause people to tell stories and share secrets that they would normally keep well under wraps. People also assume that sound doesn't travel all the way across the bar, so they feel even more comfortable sharing their deepest, darkest secrets over the sticky bar surface, thinking they won't be heard. There are stories about family, significant others, and things that no one should ever talk about, ever. These bartenders have heard it all, and now it's your turn.
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#1 Sad Bartender
Even though we were busy, I clearly heard a woman say to her friend, "Hey look, the bartender's really cute."
Friend: "No, he's not!"
Response: "Oh yeah, you're right."
#2 Weird Thing To Get Upset About
I overheard my favorite conversation while I was on the other side of the bar. “Look all I’m saying is Grand Theft Auto severely ruined our generation's perception of how many police helicopters exist.” Sounded like they were getting really heated over the matter.
#3 Lots? Or Lots And Lots?
As a bartender, I've witnessed lots and lots of cheaters. It's weird that serial cheaters take their girls to the same spot.
#4 Tennis, Anyone?
I bartended at a country club once, and there was this one group of tennis ladies that would always sit at the bar and get absolutely smashed at our weekday wine night. They took a liking to our main bartender and kept calling him exotic (he’s Mexican). They would say they love his beard, talk about their favorite positions(not tennis related), how horrible their husbands were, etc. They also slipped him their numbers at some point. They gave me death glares every time I’d interact with him.
#5 Poor Girl
On Valentine's Day this year, we had a guest who accepted a FaceTime from his girlfriend while his side-chick was with him at the bar. He angled the phone so his girlfriend wouldn't see the girl, but it was so obvious.
#6 Sweet, Maybe?
Two businessmen were having after work drinks on a Friday. The conversation built up to one of the sweetest sentiments I've heard. At first, it was the usual: "Lemme tell ya, you're a good person. I love you, man." Later on: "Forget the wives! Hey, you and me, we buy motorcycles!" To eventually this gem: "If a tornado were to blow you away... I would fly after you."
#7 More Dumb Than Bizarre
These three people came in together, two guys and a girl. The bar was set up with mirrors on two sides with a walkway between them. One of the fellows asked me why he couldn’t see himself in the mirror when he was sitting directly in front of the walkway. I gave him one of those side-eyed glances, wondering if he really wanted me to answer this question. He kept looking at me questioningly. So, I finally told him, “There is no mirror there, that is a walkway.” His friends burst out laughing and told me the guy was a med student at Duke. I walked away to get my laugh in.
#8 Why So Passionate?
I was visiting my mom at work once and heard her making conversation across the bar with a patron. Suddenly, over the music, I heard the guy slam his fist onto the bar and yell: "YOU... ARE FACTUALLY WRONG." He immediately faceplanted on the bar, and his buddy had to carry him out of there.
My mom was just commenting on the fact that the song that was playing at the time was a country song.
#9 Everyone's Got Problems
One time, this older couple was talking about their "bedroom problems". The guy clearly had impotence issues and the lady kept complaining that she was feeling frustrated because Viagra wasn't really helping, or at least not helping enough. Let's just say that other people around them weren't as comfortable as they were about the conversation.
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#10 Sounds Pretty Important
I once listened to three people have an in-depth discussion about how they were going to slay the "local vampire" and the steps to take to protect themselves from the coven that the vampire was surely from.
#11 So, Like, War?
I once heard a guy tell his buddy, "It's fun, it's like laser tag but with real guns". That was twenty years ago and, to this day, I kick my self for not getting the whole story.
#12 Does That Make You An Accessory?
I was at a bar with my friend and all we heard was, "Yeah, he made me mad, so I ran him over." I still have no idea what happened, but I didn't want to inquire for obvious reasons.
#13 Like An Animal?
I work at a wine bar.
A couple was sitting there and the girl basically yelled at the guy: "Stop staring at my calf! People are starting to think we're weird!" I just kept polishing some glasses and walked away.
#14 You're Allowed To Be Wrong
I had someone yell “RIP Olivia Newton-Johnn” and I interjected that she was still alive. Big mistake. The tipsy idiot got on one of those loops about how I was wrong until we closed 20 minutes later. I even showed him proof that she was still alive on my phone and he said, “You can Google anything”.
#15 Is There A More Serious Topic?
I worked in a bar in a truck stop and there were lots of solo men. A guy on barstool said, "The government can track our every move. Now they're putting chips in newborns right at the hospital." The trucker next to him then replied, "Yeah, I know." Both were as serious as could be and talked with each other about how the world was so messed up. (It was the second trucker's response that got me.)
#16 Lots Going On Here
A customer was on the phone in the middle of the bar. The guy couldn't have been more than 25 years old. I went to help someone at the end of the bar and on my way back I overheard him say:
"No, I don't care! She's my sister, she is THIRTEEN and there is no reason she should be doing illicit substances! At all!"
I gave him a few drinks on the house that night.
#17 Family Drama
These siblings were arguing over their (not even dead and in fact present at the table) mother’s will and who gets what. It ended in a heated argument and the son speeding off.
#18 Unusual Topic
One time, I walked out to the patio to get some air and came across three people who were all very tipsy. They were engaged in a very serious conversation about theoretical physics. It happened in Dayton, Ohio.
“Ever attacked the wrong man?”
#20 Oh, The Drama
A woman was planning her dog’s birthday party, and was debating which dogs to invite since some of the dogs didn’t get along with her dog.
I was working in a bar at a wedding. The uncle of the groom just got out of prison the week prior. I think he was in for 20 years or so. He was a pilot that smuggled illicit substances for a Colombian cartel. He went by the name Big Daddy.
I didn’t believe him at first, so he showed us a tattoo on his right shoulder that said "Big Daddy," followed by pics and a whole bunch of stories. No one knew he was invited. Let's just say he tipped very well.
I will tell you the strangest thing that's happened to me at the bar. I cut someone off because they were smashed.
That person returned hours later while we were closing. I said, "Sorry, you're not getting a drink, I've already cut you off."
"Oh is that right?"
"Yeah, it is."
He proceeded to pull out a cooked fillet of chicken from his pocket and put in on the bar. He then left without saying another word.
Dumbfounded, my bar mate and I carefully picked up the cooked chicken fillet. It was cold. The guy had gone home, cooked a chicken fillet then put it into his fridge with the intention of later placing it onto our bartop as some sort of "horse head in the bed" kind of revenge.
We still have no idea what he was doing.
#23 Not Very Subtle
I had two people discuss if latex suits were sexy or not. The minute I cleared my throat in mid-sentence they switched to talking about the whiskey they were drinking.
#24 Anything Is Weird Out Of Context
What happens a lot while working in bars is that you overhear small snippets of conversation that sound really weird taken out of context. Stuff like:
"The best way to steal eggs is to pretend that they are something else."
"The dogs wouldn't stand a chance against Bruce Springsteen in his prime."
"I don't know if she can swim, but she bought sandals in the '90s."
I usually entertain myself making up stories about these conversations.
#25 Who To Feel Bad For?
A lady, her weird boyfriend, and her sister were sitting at my bar. When the girl went to the bathroom, her sister scooted in towards him and told him they should get out of there before her sister got out of the bathroom. She suggested they get a motel.
They both must have seen something I didn’t because this dude was UGLY!
#26 All's Well That End's Well?
I recently had a bar guest on her first Tinder date show up very nervous. She ordered a drink and we chit-chatted for a bit.
After a while, her date showed up. He ordered a coffee and ended up telling his date that he was only 18.
She immediately cringed and told him that he seemed very sweet but he should be honest on his profile.
He then started just insulting her age from then on out. Asking things like, "I bet you remember the Clinton administration" and other stupid stuff I can't remember.
That poor lady. She sent him home and I got off shortly after. Then we got hammered.
#27 Fun Bar Game
This was back when you kept a newspaper on the bar: a guy walked in and went straight for the paper. He looked in one section, then the other before placing the paper down.
I asked him if he found what he was looking for, and he said no. His ex wasn’t dead or in jail. Then he asked for a beer.
#28 Does The Fun Make Up For The Weird?
I've heard guys discuss if my breasts were real or not. I've also listened in on one couple who were in an open marriage and on the lookout for a third to join them.
I've listened to tons of people tell their significant other that they were working late. One guy even met a date later.
I had one couple who went into a very intense argument about custody. I assumed a kid. Turned out to be a cat.
There were also a couple of guys who were discussing their plans to rob me.
Bartending was fun, I miss it sometimes.
#29 Important Planning
“There’ll be handcuffs, bagels and, streamers— my kind of party.”
#30 Missed Opportunity
I haven't heard anything truly weird, but I did overhear a fellow barman say to a woman who'd been giving me the eye for a while that he thought I already had a girlfriend. The interested lady immediately looked disappointed and turned away to rejoin her friends.
The guy knew I was single at the time; he was just running interference.
This lady was cute, a nurse in palliative care, and we'd spoken a couple of times earlier that night. Even all these years later, the idea that some chump just shut me down for no reason at all angers me.
I kept my eye open for that woman further down the line but never saw her again. Tallish brunette palliative care nurse, I hope you're still out there, looking and being awesome.
#31 Was It That Important?
I once went to a very loud Cuban dance party and was trying to chat with a lovely young lady. She was scream-talking to her friend when the music suddenly stopped at the end of the song. In that half-second of silence, she hollered out: "I don't care I just want to get laid!" I thought that was a good sign, since she was clearly talking about me, which was unusual.
#32 That's Heartbreaking
I once stood by and watched a man have his final moments with his childhood dog over FaceTime in a hotel bar. Apparently, the vets were at his house and were putting him down. He seemed to have no idea it was coming so he was crying a lot, but generally doing well to keep it together over in the corner of the bar.
I walked over, placed a beer and a coffee next to him in silence, and went back to work. About 20 minutes later he wiped away his tears, gave me a choked-back smile, and left. To this day, I genuinely think that man had the worst moment of his life and still wiped it away all just to give that classic bit of British courtesy. the old smile and nod.
#33 So Many Things
I’ve seen it all.
A couple who were obviously not married to each other. They were on a “business trip” and would get tipsy and make out like, once a month when they met at my bar.
A lawyer and a judge who were “definitely not in the same place” talking about a case.
“If Trump builds a wall and I send my wife on a cruise, will she stay there?”
A FULL ON discussion about how to get guys to buy you drinks, which ended in both girls buying their own drinks. Come on ladies, it’s 2019.
Numerous people answering their phones and saying they are at somewhere they are not. Or lying about how much they have had. I always shoot a look for that one.
I heard two girls discussing how the bartender, who was easily within listening distance, would be attractive if he wasn't fat. Then they went on to joke about how he probably takes so many bathroom breaks because he likely stuffs his face with fries in the back room. They were tipsy, loud and weren't looking in his direction; I don't know if they realized he was so close by.
The bartender was looking over and clearly listening in, but when he saw that I noticed what was going on he just got red in the face. Poor guy.
#35 They Can Hear It All
People don’t realize that we can generally hear everything they’re saying, regardless of how loud it is. The speakers are usually positioned to the outside of the bar, so voices cut through the music on our side.
This girl I used to work with kept insisting that “I hated her” to her friends for over five minutes (which isn’t true, I just didn’t particularly like her, but I was very polite). So I turned around and addressed her in front of her friends, saying, “I know you don’t realize that I can hear you but I don’t hate you.” I made it very uncomfortable for her and her friends laughed.
#36 Fourteen Years
Just last Friday, I overheard an older couple quietly beginning to argue, but ultimately and absurdly agreeing on heading down to the courthouse the following Monday to begin filing for divorce. Then the woman proceeded to say as they were splitting the bill: "Fourteen years. Fourteen years wasted on you."
#37 Genuinely Good Human Being
It’s not the strangest conversation, but definitely the coolest I ever heard.
I was bartending at a hotel bar in a historical district of a vacation town. We had quite a few celebrities come through and it was pretty cool getting to meet them. It was a regular thing, but I never really got star struck. Then, a guy started coming in every couple of months and always wore a Marshall University hat. I always just assumed he was alumni or fan, but once I got to know him, I found out it was much deeper than that. He played for the Marshall football team that the movie We Are Marshall was about. He was on the team the year after the horrific plane crash that ended the majority of the team. I was a huge fan of the movie and the story behind it. We talked about it and his personal experience with the whole thing for hours.
It was crazy impressive what all he and that team went through. Not only was he one of the nicest gentlemen I ever met, but he was genuinely compassionate to a lot of the older folks that came through while he was there. He always went out of his way to open doors, pulled chairs out for random strangers, and really just made the bar an enjoyable place to be when he was there. As I said, he only came in every few months, so he found out my last shift was going to be around the next time he was in town and told me he’d be there to have a drink with me. During my last shift, he walked in and surprised me with a Marshall University football autographed with a short note by Red Dawson, who was the coach that much of the movie was based on, and a signed copy of the movie. It’s now on display in my living room and I love when people ask about it and I get to tell the story.
#38 What Does That Even Mean?
I heard a woman talking about how she had been starving the pigs she was farming for a few days. She then proceeded to say they ate all but the hair and teeth of Danny. Don’t know if Danny was a person or what... but I let my manager know what she said.
#39 Celebrities Are People Too
Ex-bartender here, a guy who worked for Von Miller (linebacker for the Denver Broncos) was a regular and would sit at my bar. Heard many things about Von's life that humanized him to me instead of him being some superstar.
#40 Haunted Bar
I was a bartender at a hotel bar. All sorts of interesting folks usually came through.
One time, a group of guys all came down and took the biggest table. No big deal, it was a slow night. They proceeded to reach in their bags and set up a game of Dungeons and Dragons. They started playing, with accents and all (I distinctly remember something about Bob the Necromancer). The other guests thought it was funny and interesting, so I figured, no harm, no foul. Let them play all night.
Later in the night, while the same guys were still playing, we witnessed some guy with a gold robot head made of cardboard run past the main window of the bar. He was wearing the gold robot head, shoes, and nothing else. The cops arrived shortly after and we all had to give statements. The cops proceeded to interrogate me about the D&D players because "they like to dress up in weird costumes, right?" I told the cops that the guys hadn't left the table all night.
Another time, I had a camera crew show up. They were with some ghost hunting show and were checking to see if we were haunted. I guess the owner had put them up to it.
After investigating, they concluded that our bar was indeed haunted. They had come across something seriously ghoulish during their search and it gives me shivers just to think about it. They ended up finding a secret crawlspace with a human skull on the floor. It was pretty cool but creepy at the same time. Unfortunately, the episode never aired.
#41 And She Was Still Walking Around?
I overheard a woman tell her friend that they needed to leave because someone stole her skirt. It was in a nightclub, so the friend initially misheard it as purse, which made her ask to repeat it louder. I politely offered her to go to the lost and found for something in the meantime (it's unbelievable how much clothing gets left at nightclubs). She agreed and later explained that she had taken it off to go to the toilet and someone had snatched it from under the stall. I'm a male, so I don't know if it's normal to take your skirt off to go to the toilet but it definitely struck me as odd.
#42 Lots Of Nightmares
I overheard a man describe how he committed heinous crimes in the '80s, along with too many other details that I have been trying to forget for ten years.
#3 So Did They?
Love hanging out on the riverfront bar. I overheard the gentlemen that were hanging out near me discussing whether to rob me or not.
#44 Multiple Senses
It seems like people assume bartenders' eyes don’t work. I’ve had men show each other some racy images while standing near the bar.
#45 Overcompensating, Maybe?
This guy came in looking stupid happy and was buying random people drinks. He was hugging the people next to him and talking about how his life was going so great. A few moments later, these detectives placed him under arrest. We never found out what the charges were, but we never saw him again. Weird.