Let’s get personal
Ok, so this light and fluffy ‘let’s talk to strangers’ post comes with the disclaimer that in general, I sympathise with the average angry and time-pressed Londoner. I probably don’t greet bus drivers as pleasantly as I should, and I find the idle chit-chat with my local hairdresser an unwelcome distraction. That all said, this is different. Why wouldn’t you be friendly to the person brightening up your day?
I mean, of course, the person pouring your drink. Having worked in the industry is enough to know just how much people appreciate it. Banter with a quick-witted barman is one of the finer things in life (unless you happen to be in a B@1 sugary cocktail joint confronted with a 22 year old who acts like a toddler on a blue Smarties high – avoid at all costs). It really doesn’t take a lot to ask how someone’s day is/ask if it’s been busy/comment on the weather. Maybe you could even be a bit more adventurous. But baby steps are ok too. Us socially awkward Brits and overworked Londoners can empathise with each other on how unnatural it feels at first. But just like making the perfect home infused orange brandy (one day…) it’s worth perservering.
At corporate events I invariably get chatting to the barman. I expect (and receive) the predictable jokes about me wanting to stay close to wherever my next drink is coming from, but I also take a certain pleasure in the surprise of the wine dispenser when I treat them as a person and not, well, a wine dispenser.
Being an ale drinker, being nice to people has even more benefits. There’s an unspoken rule that asking for more than two tasters before placing an order takes the piss a little. However, make friends with the man behind the bar in a half decent ale pub and he’ll likely be throwing third pints of stouts, porters and IPAs at you left, right and bloody centre.
You could call it social engineering. I call it making the world of hospitality a slightly cheerier place, one drink at a time.