A husband and wife walk into the bar. He is a fifty year old wearing a Hawaiian shirt half buttoned and she is homely and half his age. She is pushing a stroller with their child inside it. Most bars aren’t kid friendly, but since our establishment is both a restaurant and a pub we encourage families to be comfortable there. In fact a lot of our regulars bring in their sweet, well-mannered and well-behaved children all the time and not only do we as employees embrace them but other customers do as well.
This is why when this man strolled up with his kid and his darts no one really thought much of it. He approaches the bar. After waiting less than a minute he grows impatient and begins waving his cash in the air. I walk over to him.
“Jack and Coke. And whatever she wants,” he says.
He points over his shoulder at the woman he walked in with who is frantically trying to find a safer place than a crowded dart room in a busy pub for her to store her child. As she does she dodges darts until she finally finds a safe corner for her kid and her to sit. She begins to order, but does so in what sounded like German. She spoke as if she expected me to understand her. I stopped her finally and began to respond in English. She held up her finger and waved it in my face before turning and calling for the man in the Hawaiian shirt. He was playing darts so it took a minute to get his attention. She waved him over. He leaned on the bar, annoyed.
“I said a Jack and Coke.”
“Right, what is she having?” I asked pointing at his wife.
“Vodka Tonic. Make it the cheap stuff.”
I made their drinks and by the time I returned he was back to playing darts. I placed the drinks in front of the foreigner and told her it was nine dollars. She stared blankly at me. I motioned money with my fingers and she finally got it pulling out a twenty. I gave her some change which she pocketed.
Then the crying began. It started out quietly and brief, but slowly transformed into the sound of a constant scream. It was the kid. I scanned the bar and received annoyed looks from my happy hour regulars. The screaming stopped but continued to ring in my ears for several seconds longer. The guy returns with an empty glass.
“I don’t think there was any whiskey in that drink so make this one a double,” he says as he waves his money in my face.
I pull out a glass and a shot glass. I measure the drink to exactly two ounces and top it off with coke. He pays without tipping.
“Do you guys have any snacks? She’s hungry,” he says as he nods to his mail order bride.
I slide him a menu. He slides it back.
“No, no, I meant like peanuts or crackers or something.”
“No we do not, sir.”
“What kind of restaurant is this?”
He goes back to playing darts. I serve some other people when out of the corner of my eye I see him standing halfway in the doorway to the kitchen. I rush over and find him harassing the kitchen staff for soup crackers which unfortunately they give to him. I inform the man he is not to be bothering the kitchen and he walks away without acknowledging me.
I return to the bar and see that his wife is dousing the soup crackers in Tabasco sauce and shoving them down her throat. The screaming begins again shortly after that. The mother tries to console the child but to no avail. The father keeps playing darts not even looking over at her or the child. He returns to the bar and orders another double. I inform him that it would be appreciated if he could get the kid to stop screaming. He shrugs me off and returns to the dart board again without leaving a tip.
The screaming stops and everyone sitting at the bar and those sitting in the section of tables to the left of the dartboard release a collective sigh of relief to be free from the piercing sound of an angry child. He orders another double without tipping. Five minutes later the screaming starts right back up. The mother has since given up and stares blankly off into space while the father never acknowledges either one of them.
This happened every Friday for a month straight. It was to the point that customers were complaining about the noise. Both parents had been warned every week, but finally it became too much to bare. I was forced to walk out from behind the bar, pull the man to the side and inform him that his five year old child was 86ed from the establishment. He looked shocked. He glanced over at his screaming child briefly before turning back to me.
“If they wait out front can I stay?”
After fighting off the urge to call Child Protective Services I sent the whole fucked up family packing and thankfully have not seen them since.