Happy hours gone flat

IN BUSINESS, entertaining clients, associates and friends in pubs and restaurants after office hours is the norm. To ensure better service one would try to cultivate a good relationship with owners and employees of these establishments.

During my working life, I encountered many unpleasant episodes at some of these places so much so that more than a decade after retirement, some of them still haunt me.

The office I operated from for over a decade was located in SS2, Petaling Jaya, and my residence was also in Petaling Jaya. So it was only natural that I should identify a good entertainment outlet near my office that I could patronise. And this was not too difficult as they were quite a number of them around.

I spent many evenings in pubs, but not because I was an alcoholic.

After a hectic day in the office, I would very much like to go home to my family as a normal human being without the stress and pressure of work, though sometimes not very sober.

The pub where my friends and I frequented after work was a stone's throw away from the office. It was operated by a lady we knew as Mrs Kam (not her real name).

Due to our regular patronage, Mrs Kam even partitioned an area in the pub exclusively for our use. And we did enjoy many happy hours here.

One evening we stopped at this pub for a drink. As a storm was brewing, we decided to leave early after a couple of beers each.

As usual, I asked Mrs Kam for the bill. What surprised me was that the amount on the bill was almost the same as on the other days when we our consumption of beer was almost double.

When questioned, Mrs Kam was quick to point out to me that the bill could not be wrong as it was printed out from her electronic cash register. I took a closer look and discovered that the quantity consumed was correct but the total charged was wrong! I asked her to work it out again.

She immediately took the bill from me, took a casual look and said it was not for me but for another group of customers. But I couldn't see any other group of customers present at that time!

Once bitten twice shy, we should have moved on to another pub after this incident. But no, we went back to the same pub as if Mrs Kam had put a spell on us.

Not too long after the wrong-bill episode, Mrs Kam herself did something to my first mug of beer.

As a rule, beer-drinkers would ensure that the beer served is fresh before consuming it by looking for the head and the bubbles. But that evening the glass of beer served to me by Mrs Kam was completely flat and devoid of bubbles. I told her about it and she took it away.

I followed her to the beer counter to see what she was going to do with it.

What surprised me was that, in my presence and without any hesitation, she scooped a couple of spoonful of beer foam from a jug near the beer dispenser and put them onto my glass of flat beer. I questioned her action and she told me, as a-matter-of-factly, that this was what she had been doing to all our flat beers!

I lost my cool, told her that I was disgusted by the way she had treated us and stomped out of the pub.

I thought that was the end of the episode and I was prepared to put it behind me for good.

But no. A few days after the incident, I got a message from my secretary saying that Mrs Kam had called and told me "to forget about the past and to go back to her"!

I was taken aback after reading the message and asked my secretary how the message came about. She told me that Mrs Kam had been calling many times while I was out and had insisted that "the message" reach me. However, my secretary informed me that she already knew what had happened in the pub the other day and that I did not have to explain the "affair" to her.

As if taking me for a ride was not good enough, Mrs Kam even attempted to discredit me by insinuating, through my secretary, that I was having an affair with her!

This is just but one of many episodes that my friends and I have encountered in over three decades of patronising pubs. It looks like most pub-goers never learn. This is because when you and your friends find a pub that suits your needs, you tend to be complacent. This message seems to have gotten across to the owners and their subordinates, leading them to believe that you have no other pub to go to. As a result you get short-changed and poor service. By the time you realise it, it may be too late because, quite often, there would be a change of ownership or management or the pub is closing down.

Truly, familiarity breeds contempt, Perhaps a better approach would be to have cautious expectations from any outlet that one patronises, so that when the inevitable moment arrives, one would only experience some short-lived sadness. So enjoy youself while you can and



The horse and mule live 30 years,
And nothing know of wines and beers;

The goat and sheep at 23 die;
Without a taste of Scotch and rye;

The cow drinks water by the ton,
And at 18 is nearly done;

The dog at 15 crashes in,
Without the aid of rum and gin;

The cat in milk and water soaks,
And then in 12 short years croaks;

The modest, sober, bone-dry hen,
Lay eggs for years and dies at 10;

All animals are strictly dry,
They sinless live and swiftly die;

But sinful, ginful, rum-soaked men,
Survive for three score years and ten;

And some of us, the mighty few,
Stay pickled till we’re 92!

(anonymous, saw this on a poster in one pub)


An edited version of the above (without CHEERS!) was published in Star Two on 13/06/06.

nakedeyeview.com.my 2008