Tales from Groovy Spoons 5: 'Goodbye Groovy Spoons'
I lift the lid on the sexism, racism, drug use, and other unpleasant occurrences as I say goodbye to Groovy Spoons.
Hello, and here we are again.
The time has come for me to leave Groovy Spoons, my circumstances have changed and I must return to my homeland.
As this is my final story, I'm going to touch on the darker side of this strange and morally twisted place. I'm sorry to say that this article isn't going to be as fun as my previous entries. As much as I would like to put a fun slant on these stories, or provide a zany commentary on it, it would be wholly inappropriate, as there are some quite serious topics to be discussed here and I want to tackle them with respect.
So, if you're still here, then we shall proceed.
Groovy Spoons is in quite an ethnically diverse town, there are a lot of different cultures mixed together and this can lead to some tensions.
I was once on the door, charging the entry fee, with the head doorman. A group of about five lads hailing from the Pacific Islands came to the door, but the bouncer wouldn't let them in. He said they couldn't come in and after a moment of enquiry, they left peacefully and moved on. It wasn't a busy part of the night, and they did not seem drunk, so I was very confused about this. I asked the bouncer, "how come they weren't allowed in?" and he told me it was because they were a group of big strong lads and prone to causing trouble. I had been working at Groovy Spoons around eight months at that point, and had never seen any trouble come from them. It was the bouncer's own prejudice that prevented the men from coming in. This happened on three occasions that I saw.
Another totally shocking event happened quite recently. A group of white men came in, obviously on a stag do; dressed as various famous musicians from history, like David Bowie, Elvis, and Freddie Mercury. But then one of them came in dressed as Bob Marley. A white man, with fake dreadlocks and dark face paint. I was completely stunned, a white man, in blackface, in public, in 2018. And nobody batted an eyelid. I don't know what's worse, the fact that he thought it was okay, or the fact that nobody else cared.
There is also a community of Irish Travelers in the town, and a small number of them come out to Groovy Spoons on the weekend. One shift I was working and one of my managers came to me and casually remarked, "Don't you hate pikeys?" I haven't seen any behaviour from the group that warrants hatred, nor were they causing any trouble on the night. I simply replied "no, not really," and he looked at me with utter bewilderment.
Last St Patrick's Day, Groovy Spoons was doing a promotion with Guinness, wherein you buy a pint and get a novelty Paddy's Day top hat. So I was told to offer these hats to anyone who bought one, seems harmless enough, right? One gentleman bought a pint of Guinness and so I offered him a hat, he didn't know what I was talking about so I got one and held it up to show him. His face dropped and with the utmost aggression, he snarled "get that thing away from me!" I hastily put the hat away and he went into a big tirade about the "filthy IRA" and how bad they are, and all of this stuff against the Irish. I didn't want to get into an argument with him, nor did I want to get stabbed, so I left him to it, but I couldn't help but wonder what a man who hates the Irish so much was doing out buying Guinness on St Patrick's Day.
Sexism and Sexual Harassment
Groovy Spoons doesn't just suffer from racial prejudice, sexual harassment is also a very large issue between both customers and staff.
It is predominantly the men who are the issue, saying vulgar things to women and occasionally making very inappropriate physical contact.
Whenever a new person starts, particularity if it's a young female, I tell them that if anyone says or does anything they don't like then to tell me or a bouncer and it'll be dealt with.
On one occasion, a young woman had just started and it was fairly early on in the evening, so it was quiet. A bloke at the bar started making conversation with the woman, seemingly friendly but with a misplaced flirtatious nature. I was watching the man and trying to decide if he was drunk, or just stupid. Then he said "B?" to the woman, she was confused so he said "C?" Again, she was confused, so she said she didn't understand. After that, he said, "Bra size." At that point, I felt a surge of anger swell through me and I found myself shouting at the stupid man. He kept saying I was a joke but I told him it wasn't funny. The woman was trying to laugh it off but she shouldn't have had to deal with that. I stopped serving the man, so hopefully he learned his lesson, but unfortunately I doubt it.
It's not just the female staff that receive harassment, I myself had my bum grabbed twice; the first time I was so shocked that I didn't know what to do. But the second time, I turned to see a slimy little cretin by the name of Vincent, and I lashed out with a violent kick to his knee, and it's safe to say that he didn't do it again. I'm not one to promote violence, but in the case of sexual harassment, I would recommend a harsh kick, thump, or wack.
Another prominent example of sexism, not just in Groovy Spoons but also in my general experience, is male bonding through objectification of women. For example, my boss would often approach me at work and subtly gesture toward a female, and ask a question like 'would you smash her?'. It is important to note that his definition of 'smash' is 'to have sex with', and he was more interested in whether I wanted to smash a stranger than he was in getting to know me. A similar thing happened with a younger colleague, he had a game called 'right or left', wherein if a couple of females were sitting at the bar, he would ask 'right or left?', as it 'which one do you think is better looking?'. It's difficult to get out of such a question without significantly damaging their opinion of you, but at the end of the day, am I really bothered what a fellow Groovy Spoons bartender thinks about me?
No, no I am not.
Drugs were also a big part of life at Groovy Spoons. The owner, Baz, was high all the time, from one drug or another, and didn't even attempt to hide it. I even heard stories that he would take the young female employees upstairs to get high with him, but I never received such an invitation, and I don't know of that makes me lucky or unlucky.
Similarly, Baz's girlfriend once approached me and asked if I could put her phone on charge. I got the charger and tried to plug it into the phone but the case was in the way, so she took it off me and removed the case, which led to a little bag of Cocaine falling out. She very nonchalantly picked it up and shoved it down her top. She then passed me the phone for charging as if nothing at all happened.
The bouncers were well aware of this drug use, often finding white powder in the toilets, on the toilet seats and all over the floor, even the occasional dumb ass with white powder still left on their nose. But no effort was made to quash this drug issue, and in fact I think the drugs helped people cope with the place, as nobody sober could stomach to stay more than half an hour.
In another case, I was stuck on door duty with a beefcake bouncer. He was something of a womaniser and would flirt with nearly every female that came through the door. When the thoroughfare died down, he started trying to convince me that I should quit the bar-tending business and get into the bouncer business. He kept telling me how the money is far better, the work is far easier, and the women love it. He then started a very well rehearsed sales pitch about the benefit of steroids and how they're actually good for you. He kept insisting that the government were lying about them and making up negative side effects, then described his injecting routine in great detail. Just before his pitch was over, he insisted that I feel his pecks to see just how "rock solid" they are.
If you didn't think that racism, sexism, and drugs were bad enough, there was also a surprising level of violence and aggression.
One man was aggressively clicking at me to get my attention, which I took swift and powerful offense to. I told him that I wouldn't be serving him if he kept clicking at me, a comment to which he took even more offense to, and quickly proceeded to tell me that he couldn't wait to smash my head in. I pointed him out to the bouncers for removal and had a huge power trip as he was dragged out.
One man even came behind the bar to square up to me and tell me that he was next to be served. An action which led to him never being served by me again.
On one occasion, I was walking home at 2:30 AM, and I came across a man who had been in Groovy Spoons all night, he was talking to the police and had a huge bloody gash on the side of his head. I quickly stopped by for a chat and he told me that he'd had a disagreement with another Groovy Spoons patron, who had gone off to go find a baseball bat, wait outside the pub until closing time, and wack him on the head. The police were helping out and I left them to it, but I couldn't help thinking that it could've easily been me that he waited to wack.
One Last Groovy Conclusion
That's it for Groovy Spoons. I hope I have expressed to you a realistic, interesting, and sometimes amusing account of this truly bizarre place. I appreciate you sticking around to read it.
Want to head back to the beginning? You can find the first Groovy Spoons story here.
If you have any funny/bizarre/scary work stories then send them to me on Twitter. You can find me here.
Disclaimer: These stories and characters are 100 percent real, however, all names and locations have been altered.