There's more to tending bar than just making drinks; you gotta monitor the room and make sure people are behaving themselves. This means watching out for people who look like they need to escape, or if someone is acting too aggressive toward another person. Unsurprisingly, dates can turn sour really quickly, and bar staff are often the only ones who can intervene.
PodoTheGreat asked forlorn lovers of Reddit: People who have ordered a bars "safe word" drink to get out of a bad situation, what was your date like and how did the staff help?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Why do men do this?
Had a creeper at a hotel bar who wouldn't leave me alone despite my best efforts to ignore him. I even asked him politely and not so politely to "leave me alone". He actually kept trying to touch me and told me that I was going to go to his room with him. He had a strange angry edge too. So I gave the bartender a "help me" look and said to him something like "I need to talk to you about that thing with my tab, remember?" and asked if could do it when the bar closed (which was like 5 minutes later). He looked at me and said, "Give me a minute", made a phone call and then said, "So, they can help you at the front desk"... meanwhile creeper is literally not leaving me alone is still trying to actually hang on me and keeps talking.
So I start to leave and creeper is trying to kiss me and pull me close but I tell him I have business at the front desk and walk to the front desk. About 3 employees were there and I said "The Bartender said you could help me with my tab?" And one of the employees says "oh, I need you to come here with me to fix that". And she says to the guy "You need to stay here, this is personal business". The employee (a woman) and I start to walk away and of course the creeper followed us. She actually walked me to a staff elevator and he tried to get on with us. She told him "Get out of here and leave us alone" as a male hotel employee came up to him just then and the elevator door shut. The employee walked me literally to my room door and stayed until I had it locked on the other side.
I have had (and still occasionally do have) guys hit on me but never anything like this incident. I actually wrote a long long email to the hotel corporate office and the actual hotel about the bartender and two employees because they helped me in what I would say was "above and beyond"... the guy really frightened me. I have been as brand loyal as possible to the hotel chain ever since.
Had a bar call 911 once after they bounced a guy who was creeping out a woman. He stood outside the bar and flat out said he was waiting for her until she came out, which he did. He started following her and told people they were together. I literally had to stand with this moron while this poor girl and her friends got into the car, and dipsh*t tried to stand really close so he could get the address. I told the driver her address, but gave the address of the jail, which most taxis know, and he seemed to get the hint. Guy tried to complain later that we had "unlawfully detained" him just so he couldn't get the girls number and address.
I mean... Yeah, basically that's what we did. Move along.
Edit for clarification: I responded to the 911 call, I'm a police officer.
Sometimes it's fun to be the escape.
I've actually been used to escape by a random before. Was at a local bar with a bunch of friends and out of no where girl walks over, sits on my lap and between a teeth clenched smile just said "pretend to know me". I laughed and loudly said "Hey you! Where'd you wonder off to?" Thankfully my friends picked up on it because inside of 10 seconds a few of my female friends were chatting with her and standing between her and the guy she'd fled.
I asked her after what about me made her know I was a safe person to turn to and she said "because you're here with a bunch of women. Total honesty. Thought you were gay." Lol.
Edit: holy crap. Welp. There goes my Reddit silver AND Gold cherry. Ya'll are awesome.
Be careful, or else Angela might send you to Belize.
I had to use it when on a date off tinder. We met up and he had already got me a drink just sat there (shot of something clear) and then said to me that I should do it then he would take me some where better for more fun. I wasn't comfortable so excused my self to the bathroom and saw a poster that said about ask for Angela if you're uncomfortable. Went to the bar and asked for Angela and immediately this guy was playing along saying oh yeah she's working in kitchen tonight he got me a taxi and walked me out the back door and into the taxi to make sure I got there without any hassle. Never saw the guy again.
Yeah that was my biggest worry, I didn't want to risk it. At the same time I sometimes wonder if he just was super forward but honestly I couldn't tell.
Better safe than sorry; you did the right thing.
Skilled bartenders are masters at reading body language.
Working as a bartender and bouncer for the past couple years, I usually just try to watch for body language of people that are in the bar. If it looks like someone needs a quick escape, I'll approach and pretend I'm an old friend that hasn't seen them in a while, if they actually don't need help, I can excuse myself by saying they look like a friend.
Either that, or I'll try to position myself behind the questionable party and give a thumbs-up and cocked eyebrow as a sort of "You good?".
Edit: Well, thank you to the people who commented on this comment, and thanks to whoever gave me gold! Really awesome of y'all.
Well, this is disturbing.
This is a relatively new thing, but us girls have been doing some form of it for a long time.
Back when I was a bartender, I noticed a girl stumble into the pool table. She was crying and clearly very intoxicated. I went over to ask if she was okay, and some guy I hadn't seen her with all night jumps up and says, "I'm her boyfriend, I've got her." No the f*ck you do not.
We got her to calm down and give us her phone to call her roommate so someone safe could take her home. It sucks that it's necessary, but I'll always love my boss from that bar because he threw that creep out, physically.
We saw her again. She didn't have a boyfriend or remember that night.
Oh, f*ck. That's horrifying.
This is how you do it.
I went out on my own one night and was having a few drinks at a local pub. I had just moved to the area so didn't really know anyone. A guy sat down next to me and was chatting. At first is was just casual but he eventually became really tipsy/handsy. Then the guy actually kissed me just out of the blue and I told him I was not ok with it. He said I was leading him on - which was not the case at all. He got angry and stormed off to the washroom. I was feeling really uncomfortable and unsafe. I didn't know my new neighborhood yet. The bartender saw that I was feeling off right away - he didn't even know me but could tell. He asked if I wanted to be shown out the back door and if they could put me in a cab home so that I could go without the guy following me. They even paid - and apologized that I felt unsafe in their bar. I was totally blown away. I would totally go back there and feel completely taken care of.
That's great—glad they got you out of there. What honest and kind folks to be so vigilant and gracious to you.
It's true! I even went back to that bar last week - both people working remembered my name and just said to shoot them a look if I need anything. So sweet.
Reminder that bouncers are there to keep us safe.
I'm a bouncer in a nightclub. No drink safewords but we actively keep an eye out for situations which don't look above the radar. If a girl's leaving with a guy and she looks too intoxicated to stand I'll take her aside and ask what his name is and how she knows him. If she's scared or needs help getting away from a bad situation I'll call her a cab and walk her too it. I'll also say to the bloke that I need to see some ID because 'his entry stamp isn't the right one' as soon as I see it I'll take a photo, pass it on to the police and ban him for life from out club.
We've built up a reputation as the safest nightclub in our area, which draws both crowds especially girls. It's massively helped our business being so focused on safety.
It's scary that this is even necessary.
My university town had the highest incidents of sexual assault for 5 years in a row, the school and community took it really seriously and implemented procedures all over the place.
I asked my friend, who was a bouncer at my favorite bar/club, what happens when a girl orders the drink. He said it changes week to week in the ladies bathroom to confuse men when word gets out. You can use any of the former ones and the bartenders will jump into action.
Generally they find a way to get you away from that person whether it be a "phone call" or they need to show you something. Once you're out of eye sight they whisk you away to the opposite floor of the place (bar is on the bottom, club is on the top) and keep the date occupied until your gone. If he gets away from his "company" they radio that the drink got spilled and every bouncer abandons their post to try and keep him away from you.
They escort you out the backdoor into a waiting cab. They pay the cabbie to take you home and make sure you're not followed. When you get home they ask that you flick your front porch lights on and off and call the club to let them know you're safe. They also save the security cameras from that day in case you have need of it at a later date.
I never used their service because my friends were the bouncers and usually intervened before I needed to say anything.
Having a gross drink as a safety word? Priceless.
Semi-related, but I was out at the pub on campus for a show, and had been there previously in the day celebrating our last exam with some friends. Some guy who was sitting at a table next to us and trying to chat us up earlier was still there with his buddies and was drunker and braver and of course he got me alone when my friend went to the bathroom.
He wouldn't stop talking to me and getting in my face and yelling about himself and when I excused myself to go to the bar (literally was like "ok bye.") He followed me to the bar and ordered the same thing as I did and offered to pay and I said I was good and he did not. stop. talking. And I must have looked mad as f*ck because the bartender walked over and went "hey you were here earlier right? Buddy give us a second I need to speak with her about her tab." The guy leaves and the bartender tells me I looked distressed and asked if everything was ok, I told him I was fine but this guy was in my personal space and not leaving. So he said if he doesn't stop that I should come back and order a whiskey lemon and security would be notified, and he would walk me back to my car if I needed it.
We ended up moving tables and I think he got too drunk to stand up and left not too long after that but I was so relieved to know the bartender was watching out. I'm not one for confrontation and it just feels so much safer to be able to duck out with someone having my back.
A Whiskey lemon sounds disgusting.
I think the idea is it's a drink that they know no one would ever actually want to order.
Break out the tasers.
I'm a bartender in a small town. Anytime a new woman comes into the bar I let her know that if she ever feels uncomfortable or needs anything to ask me to go out for a smoke with her. I've had plenty of people use it to get away from some just usual creeps. But NOTHING beats the night a guy asked this girl to go home with him. After she politely refused he grabbed her and called her a bitch. We already had our eye on this situation, my bouncer immediately came out of no where and tased this drunk assh*le.
In case you're wondering, bar staff love saving people.
PSA to the ladies:
I'm a guy who's worked 20 years as a bartender, club manager, and security dude. We LIVE for taking out assh*les. If you ever are having an issue with a guy, date or not, please let anyone there know and I bet they would be thrilled to make the asshole go away (or put you safely in a car)
When I used to hear after the fact about incidents in the club where a patron was harassed I alway wish I would have known what was going down--- staff will usually gladly step in.
Former bouncer here. Totally agreed. Some of my funniest and best stories come from those days when I got to kick out the drunken moron.
Please tell someone. You've never seen an adult's eyes light up until you get to see a bouncer told to go play with the idiot.
A few rescue stories.
I had a creep corner me in a bar once and tried to stroke my thigh. I dude I've never met before came up and said "hey sis I've been looking all over for you!" And he put his arm around me and walked me out. Thank you so much stranger.
Edit: since I'm seeing a lot of comments about this. It was pretty obvious they were not working together. The nice guy walked over from a group of friends (all college aged) and the creep was in his fifties. And when I said he walked me out, he just walked me to the door of the bar.
I once got hugged by a random girl sitting at a bar who whispered in my ear (or actually talked normally; the music was loud) "pretend to be my boyfriend." I grabbed her on the thigh and yelled "honey I've been lookin' for you!" The guy who hit on her gave me the sorry, had no idea it was your girl-look and then she asked me to dance. She pulled me into the crowd and we danced for like 30 seconds and she gave a me a smile and she left. Never saw her again but I felt like a f*cking hero. Very small thing I did but I felt great.
I had a similar situation in college. A creepy guy followed me around a frat party all night. He was in a history class with me, and all night he kept trying to push himself against me or stroke my hair and neck. I was backed into a corner by a door, and I grabbed the arm of the next guy that came through and asked him to pretend he was my boyfriend to escape. He played along, and he kept the creeper away from me for the rest of the night. So much appreciation for guys who are willing to help out on these situations.
My fake boyfriend became by real boyfriend, and 8 years later we are now married.
Bars and clubs should have safe words or coded drinks.
Female bartender chiming in. In the decade I've been doing this, most bars I've worked in don't have a safe word or drink. I've worked in 3 major cities with large universities and bar districts and not one I've ever seen.
I consider keeping patrons safe a large part of my job, especially working at clubs or at music festivals. I'm watching anyone that gives me a weird vibe or people that are obviously on a newish date and most other bartenders that give a shit do the same. There's a "look" other women will give when they need help. Either cornered into a conversation they obviously want out of or trying to turn down free drinks from some guy that won't take no for an answer.
That's when I just go over and pretend I'm bussing or wiping the bar and make eye contact with her until she gets I've got an understanding of what's going on, then I just ask her how she's "doing" in a tone that also conveys I'm there to help if need be. If her answer is weird or she keeps eye contact too long with me, or in a "please don't leave" kinda way, I immediately get security and try and get her an Uber if she's tipsy, or find her friends. I do everything I can to make sure they get home. I unfortunately can tell so many stories of drugged/drunk girls completely out and having to literally keep men away from them because they all swear they'll get her home safely or that they know her or her friends.
So ladies, you can always tell your bartender literally anything is going on. We consider the workplace kind of ours and don't want any bad shit happening to anyone that comes in. Just tell us and we'll help you.
Edit: y'all, my username's a joke.
Also, as u/dirtybitsxxx pointed out we do really live for throwing assh*les the f*ck out. If they really deserve it, it makes security's night.
Not all heroes wear capes.
Ehhh this is a "close but not quite" situation but it may get attention due to the lack of legit responses.
A guy I was with was with was SUPER adamant about me keeping up with him slamming drinks. He would drag me to the bar and order for me, then egg me on to drink faster, etc. I did NOT want to be drunk with him.
He ordered me a vodka soda and I maintained that slightly pained look on my face, hoping to catch the bartenders attention. When he looked my way, I widened my eyes just a little and subtly shook my head "no".
I watched him as he poured me drink by faking the vodka pour and just filling me with what I presume was soda water (not normally my drink of choice so I wasn't sure what it was - kinda looked like stale Sprite) and he garnished it with a lime and everything. Said "cheers" when he handed us our drinks.
This continued for a while until Drunky McSmashypants wanted to leave. Bartender said to me "oh you had asked about seeing Megan, right?! Yeah she's in the back, go ahead while he closes out"
I sort of hovered by the restrooms which were tucked away, watched the bartender BS with the dude for a while, and he eventually left lookin all annoyed. When the coast was clear, I came out, said my thank yous, and he said "anytime, happens more than we care to admit" so I thought it was pretty cool that the bartenders were aware enough to pick up on the little signs and help a sister out. I guess during their conversation he basically convinced the dude that I didn't seem into it and he thought he saw me leave already. Drunk dude was druuuuuunk so I guess he bought it without further intervention necessary.