Vomiting, fights, blood, tears...The hell of working Black Friday

Some top tips if you want to have a good night and get served

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The Independent Online

Providing the world doesn’t end, tonight is “Black Friday”.

Also nicknamed ‘Black-Eye Friday” and “Blackout Friday”, the fabled excess-ridden last working day before Christmas when people who don’t usually venture out all year descend upon bars and clubs like locusts with novelty Santa hats and emergency services traditionally log the year’s heaviest volume of 999 calls. Vomiting, fights, blood, tears…. basically, the denouement of the night inevitably resembles a season finale of Game of Thrones.

It’s been widely predicted that this year won’t be as incident-laden as previous ones. With some companies opting to hold their Yuletide drinks last week, the merriment will be staggered (no pun intended) – less a walk of shame, more a relay. But having worked in bars, I can safely predict, Mayan prophecy style, that it will be hell on earth – to the point where staff will probably be leaving frantic messages on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’s voicemail, pleading “Come on guys, what’s taking you so long?”

The problem isn’t the sheer number of people, or even the alcohol. It’s not the entertaining punch-ups, or the divorcees ordering large gins and saving on the tonic by sobbing into the glass. No, it’s that the majority of customers have, since their last annual visit, forgotten how to behave in a bar. In lieu of a Debrett’s guide to “getting spannered while wearing Reindeer Antlers” etiquette, allow me to impart some tips, from a battle-worn survivor, on how to make life easier for those receiving the full-grief when you’re half-cut.

For starters, when ordering drinks, regardless of how busy it is, never stand insistently waving a £20 note like a distress flare. Equally, banging your fists and sassily clicking your fingers has the same effect as activating an Invisibility Cloak.

Don’t order one drink at a time, creating beverage-based constipation.

Avoid paying with sweaty money retrieved from your bra (yes, people do this), like a lapdancer in reverse.

In a similar vein, don’t put your money where your mouth is. Literally. Try not to complain “I can’t taste the alcohol in this!”. ..demanding more shots are poured into the glass until it isn’t so much a drink as cirrhosis -with-a-straw.

The most irksome thing you can do is create a fuss over a 10 pence tip – “There that’s for YOU!”, and expect an amazed reaction akin to as if you’d just whipped out the Ark of the Convenant (with eyes that say: “I battled Nazis and escaped a rolling boulder to give you those two 5ps. Genuflect in gratitude!”).

Although better paid, DJs nonetheless receive an equally raw deal on Black Friday. Besides trying to decipher requests with more spelling mistakes than a Ke$ha song title, they have to deal with the ultimate no-no – revelers asking for a tune then immediately heading outside to smoke, before returning to bemoan that they haven’t heard their track yet. Worse still are the middle-aged bores – more OAP than NME – who want to regale tales from their halcyon daze.

Generally, this rule tends to apply to women: but never lasciviously slur “Guess my age?” at the bartender (unless you can cope with the incredulous reply: “Iron?”). Having someone threaten to tear your head off like a Matey bubblebath top because they’ve misplaced their cloakroom ticket is bad enough, but worse are the braying middle-class yummy mummies, all three-Cath-Kidson- sheets-to-the-wind, who kill with kindness. “I’m glad I don’t have your job! It must be AWFUL! I’d hate to think of one of my sons doing this!” they’ll coo, before smugly crafting a crown out of their tax return. At this time of year, nobody likes to be told that the Grinch has stolen their career prospects.

The number one faux pas to eschew is having sex at the bar. You may assume nobody can see your furtive fumble, but to a whole room of innocent bystanders, it’s like watching somebody struggling to unblock a kitchen pipe.

Ultimately, follow these simple P&Qs rules and bar staff will worship the ground you’ve passed out on. And Black Friday won’t leave everybody involved red-faced.