about 15 minutes before closing

Winery

Massachusetts

It’s about 15 minutes before closing. We have a nice porch where customers are welcome to sit and enjoy our wine and our food or a picnic they bring. There are signs everywhere stating this, and also that the porch and grounds close 15 minutes after the store closes. I’m at the tasting bar with one customer and his 3 year old son, and most of my coworkers are starting to close up. A second customer is being helped at the far end of the bar by a coworker. My customer’s son is sitting on the bar.

Male customer: You don’t mind if my son sits on the bar, do you?

Me: Well… I’d prefer it if he didn’t, but it’s almost closing so I guess it’s ok.

Male customer: ok great!

He’s doing a wine tasting slowly, so I pour him wine every few minutes. The female customer comes over when my coworker is called to help someone else.

Female customer: I’m not really doing a tasting, I’m just trying to decide on a bottle to buy. Can you tell me about these wines? (She asks for some details and I tell her.) Ok can I try that one? Just to see if I like it.

Me: generally you’d need to purchase a tasting, but since it’s just one, sure, that’s fine.

As I go get her wine, I notice the male customer’s child is getting pretty antsy.

Me: Sir, maybe you should let your son down, I don’t want him to knock anything over.

Male customer: oh no, he’s fine! I’m almost done anyway.

I get the wine for the woman. After a few minutes,

Female customer: Could I try this beer? It sounds good. My husband might want to buy some, he’s outside.

Me: sure, he can try one thing if he’s also deciding on what to buy.

I go over to the beer tap to pour her beer. As I’m waiting for the foam to settle, I hear a huge crash and turn around. The area where I’d been standing before was covered in shards of glass, both the bar and the floor. Somehow the little boy on the bar had broken a glass, or possibly thrown in. Usually when our glasses break, they break into 2 or 3 large pieces, but this one was a stem and a lot of shards. I’m a little stunned.

Coworker: oh my god [my name], what happened?! Are you ok? [other coworker’s name] can you run and get the broom?

Me: I’m not really sure! I’m ok though.

The male customer won’t look at any of us.

Female customer: Excuse me! my beer, please?

Me: Sorry, do you mind waiting a moment? I want to be sure I don’t have any shards on me and I’m wearing sandals so I’m afraid I’ll cut my feet if I walk through here right now.

Female customer: but my husband is waiting outside for this beer!

Me: sorry, it’ll just be a minute to clear a path. I’m a little paranoid about broken glass.

After 2 or 3 minutes we get things cleaned up and I pour a fresh beer for the woman (I’m being overly cautious but want to make sure there’s no glass in her beer). The male customer and his son slink away without looking at anyone. The female customer is still there.

Female customer: this beer is really good, but it took you a while.

Me: I’m really sorry, but I was worried about the glass everywhere.

She leaves the bar and buys some things, including a glass of beer. My manager tells her that we’re closing as soon as she’s ready but she can take her time. After she pays, she sets her bag down on the tasting bar and asks where the restroom is. Then she goes outside, comes back after a minutes, and puts her bag of purchases on the bar.

Female customer: I need to wait for my husband to come in and watch my bag while I use the restroom.

Me: it’s ok, I can watch it for you.

Female customer: No, he’s coming, he’ll watch it. I don’t want it to disappear.

(there are no customers anymore, just me cleaning the bar, and 3 coworkers cleaning up other areas) Eventually her husband comes in and he waits with her bag.After what feels like a long time, she comes out and they all go out. They all go to the car and we grumble a bit about this customer who wouldn’t actually purchase a tasting and discover she’d had several free tastes from my coworker, using the excuse that she was trying to decide what to buy. After a few minutes we notice that the family is returning from their car with a grocery bag and a cooler, and sets up a picnic dinner on the porch. It’s now 10 minutes past closing time, and 5 minutes before our grounds are closed.

My manager: oh no. Are they really going to set up dinner out there as the grounds are closing, after all the nonsense in here? Who wants to tell them they have to go? (we’re all silent). ugh fine, I guess it’s a manager’s duty anyway. I’ll give them 10 minutes and then I’ll go out.

After 10 minutes they haven’t even started eating, and the woman has barely touched the beer- which is obviously not something her husband wants. My manager goes out to speak with them.

Manager: I’m so sorry, but our grounds are now closed.

Female customer: So? We’re not shopping anymore.

Manager: No, the grounds. We can’t have customers using the grounds beyond 15 minutes after the winery closes.

Female Customer: What are you trying to say?

Manager: that you’ll have to go. I’m sorry.

Female Customer: But you just sold me this beer! What do you expect me to do?

Manager: I sold you the beer about 20 minutes ago, I expected you to drink it. I’m sorry, but these are the rules. It’s not safe here after dark, since there are no lights that are left on after we leave.

Female Customer: Where are there signs saying this? I’m not leaving because of your secret rule.

My manager points to the 3 signs clearly visible and readable from where they are.

Female Customer: F— you!

She pours her beer on the porch floor and she and her husband pack up all their food and kids and leave.

My manager comes back in and says: How much you wanna bet that’s our newest bad Yelp review?