• Ben Etchells-Rimmer

The Bar

So there I was, in a bar. But not just any bar, a bar in France. This bar was a special bar, because it offered free wifi and my Facebook addiction needed seeing to.

The Bar.

I arrived at the bar just after skiing had finished for the day. The slopes, full of annoying snowboarders and French schoolkids, were emptying and we rushed to the bar to ensure we got ourselves a seat. Upon arriving at the biggest, comfiest, most central bar/restaurant in the town we were greeted not by the hustle and bustle of thousands of thirsty snowsport enthusiasts desperate for a post-ski beer, but by silence.

We were there alone.

‘Great’, I thought, as I dropped my awesome green ski bag on the chair. ‘I’ll get the beers in, you get the seats’ I said to Dad, as he looked at me with a look that suggested there was no real need to save seats unless the bar staff wanted to use every single one for an enormous game of musical chairs, leaving us stood in a corner.

I begrudgingly let him go to the toilet and risk having nowhere to sit in this baron building as I approached the bar with my crisp, clean €10 note in my hand, noting that given there were two of us in the bar, the three bar staff on would be more than capable of serving me.

No. This was not the case.

The long, wooden bar spans almost three quarters of the length of the building, but it’s still really not that long, and I was at one end and the bar staff at the other. This wasn’t in any way to be annoying, but I wanted a beer, and that is where the beer taps were. The short, female bar person looked at me from the other end of the bar where she was washing a glass with painstaking precision. I looked at her with a look of ‘YES, madam, I would like to be served some of your finest French Heineken, if you don’t mind!’, which was achieved by opening my mouth a little and raising my eyebrows, which probably made me look mildly scared of her looking at me.

I don’t know why I do that, but if i’m about to draw someones attention and want them to know I want them, I give them the look of mild surprise. It seems to work in this country, but France wasn’t too keen.

She looked at my mildly surprised face and put the glass down, started walking towards me and, just as I began to open my mouth a little more to impress her with my not-very-good French vocabulary, she stopped. She turned away from me, picked up another glass, and walked back to the other end of the bar.

‘That’s not how this is meant to work!’ I though, slightly stunned by her rebuttal of my need for service. I mean, in an empty bar, where I am the only person sat at the bar, holding €10 with no beverage of any sort sat in front of me, what else could I be sat there for?!

‘Still’, I think to myself, ‘maybe she’s busy’. Which, as soon as I think that, it becomes clear she isn’t. She’s just stood there now, staring out of the window. I try the subtle ‘ahem’ to no avail, scrape my chair a little, cough, even acknowledge Dad on the way back from the toilet as he walks past saying ‘have you not been served yet?’, which is an odd question as I probably wouldn’t have been sitting and the bar with a slightly confused look on my face if I had.

Still, she stands there, but suddenly bursts into life, in the same way a snail bursts into life - slowly, sluggishly, and with no great hurry. But she’s on her way. To THIS end of the bar. She looks at me, I look at her. I look mildly shocked again to show I want service and as she gets closer I begin to speak.


As soon as I begin to start my conversation with her, she picks up a glass from behind her and walks away. I am fuming. So angry in fact, I sighed. Loudly. That’ll show her.

By this point, I had been at the bar almost 10 minutes, and given the number of people working and the number of people in the bar, we could have had our own personal barmaid, and still had staff left over. The glasses continued to be cleaned, and I’m surprised they still function as glasses as if she does this as regularly as she appears to she should have worn down to barely nothing by now.

Almost TWENTY minutes have passed. I’m bored, fed up and ready to die. I’m suffering with dehydration, and as I’m about to collapse and fall from my chair, she arrives. No words are spoken from her, she just looks at me, slightly annoyed at me need to be served.

‘Bonjour… errrrmmm… can I have an, ermmmm, two large Heineken’s please?’

Silence. But at least she started getting my drinks. Before pouring the pints though, she washed the glasses. Which seems slightly unnecessary given they have just been washed at least thirty times in the last ten minutes.

As the two pints are placed firmly on the bar, she looks at me disapprovingly and takes my €10 off me. And doesn’t come back. Has she taken a tip?! No, she hasn’t. It’s just very expensive.

As we sit there, mumbling to ourselves at the services and the cost of the beer, stating how we are definitely not having another drink here today, or ever, for that matter. Partly for the cost, and partly as the holiday is only a week long and if we want another drink we’ll miss at least three days of skiing through waiting. We look outside and see the snow falling hard.

I look at Dad. ‘Want another?’


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