Chatterbox #159 – An interview with Ben: Part 2

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work as a bartender? In this, another special two-part Chatterbox episode (this is part 2), Andrew interviews his friend and bandmate Ben, who works as a bartender in Montreal. Join them as they talk about their friendship and some of the highs and lows of working in the bar and nightclub industry.

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An interview with Ben: Part 2

Expressions included in the Learning Materials:

  • On a regular basis
  • Common ground
  • Cheesy
  • A throwaway
  • Off the cuff
  • To preach to the choir
  • Long johns
  • A tuque

english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips English Learning Podcast

Sample transcript

Andrew: Hello everyone. Greetings from Montreal, Canada. I’m Andrew and you’re listening to Culips. Last episode, I introduced you to my friend Ben. Ben told us all about what it’s like to be a bartender. If you didn’t hear that episode, you should go back and listen to it before continuing, because today you’ll hear the conclusion of my interview with Ben. Before we start, though, please check out our website: Culips.com. That’s C-U-L-I-P-S.com, where you can hear all of our back episodes and sign up to become a Culips member. Membership is a great way to take your English to the next level, so please consider signing up. We’re also on Twitter and Facebook, so follow us on our social media sites. OK. We’re all ready to go. Here’s part 2 of my interview with Ben. I imagine when you are serving a bunch of people who are drinking, you see the best and worst of humanity.

Ben: Oh yeah.

Andrew: Do you have any funny stories you could share with us about what you’ve seen at the bar, or from behind the bar?
Ben: Sure. Yeah. I mean, there are certain things that I only became aware of in the last couple of years, definitely at Sparrow, this cocktail bar, because it’s exactly the kind of place that people will come if they want to drink alone. You know, if they just want to come and drink at the bar, they know they’ll be able to talk to the bartender most of the time, and it’s kind of got this very casual atmosphere. So it’s a homey place; it’s somewhere where you feel comfortable almost immediately and so people talk to you. And one thing that I’ve learned, which is funny, is that you have to be careful of these solo drinkers, because it’s a weird kind of… It’s this thing where I’m kind of trying to figure them out, because if they come in a lot and they’re solo and they know who I am and we have this rapport, that can be great. If it’s slow, they can come in and, like, we can have great conversations and they can help the time pass.
Andrew: It’s good to have a regular customer.
Ben: And having regular customers is great, right? It’s like, you know, they tip you well, you know who they are, they know that if even if they don’t have anybody, or if they live in the neighbourhood, they can come and they can come see you and you can hang out. It’s, like, it’s a good thing, but you have to… There is a certain responsibility that comes with that, though, because you’re serving them booze. I tend to be kind of cautious at first when people come in. Like, if they start coming in on the regular and they start coming in alone, it’s kind of, like, I won’t introduce myself right away until I’ve kind of established a kind of trust with them. Because there’s a certain level of, like… I wouldn’t say ownership, but kind of, because I can’t move. I can’t get out, right?
Andrew: Right.
Ben: If we’re not talking about something that’s, you know, interesting, or if they get offensive, you know, as they drink more, I’m kind of there and I’ve got to uphold the kind of, you know, the courtesy of being the bartender. I don’t want to be disagreeing with, you know, this person overtly or get into some kind of argument.
Andrew: So you probably do a lot of smiling and nodding.
Ben: Yeah, well… And I don’t want to do that either because that’s not really what the bar is known for; I think the reason it’s done so well is because the people that work there, like myself, are genuinely happy to be working there.
Andrew: Yeah, and to interact with the clientele.
Ben: And so that’s something that I never even thought about. At first, I just introduced myself to everybody and it worked out great, but then occasionally there’s these people that will come in, and they’ll come in belligerently drunk, and they know who you are, and they’ll sit down and they’ll be like, “You know what I mean? Like, blah.” And they’ll be telling you their, like, life story, but it comes out so incoherent, you know? Or, like, maybe I’m just not in the mood to really talk but I kind of owe these people, you know? So that’s a kind of interesting aspect of the job. I mean, if you want a kind of, like, anecdotal kind of funny thing, there was a couple that came into the bar a few months ago, and since these dating websites and dating apps have come around, you see a lot of these kinds of things like this.

Andrew: OK, so they were maybe on a first date or a blind date


english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips English Learning Podcast