The Snowbird Season, or ‘Season’ as it’s called, is over. Memorial Day has passed, so it’s back to locals and desperados here on the Gulf Coast. Some would unkindly suggest there’s no difference.

In the limo game, business has slowed to a trickle. A driver friend with another company who normally does four, five or even six airport transfers a day is down to one or two. He’s giving up Starbucks for the summer.

The downtime is good for a few things, one of which is to recapture a social life. The winter is busy pretty much every night, so plans to meet friends always carry a caveat that work comes first. But with the likelihood of being called out much diminished, nights are now for having a little fun.

Taking advantage of this, I went to two bars to which I regularly take customers, but have not been to myself. One is a bar/restaurant that has pretensions to class, and the other is a cavernous sports bar, with lots of televisions and beer. As Dickens wrote, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. *

Bartenders make a bar. If the staff are attentive and smile, people will pay to drink water, a fact that clearly not all barkeeps understand. The posh place was anything but. The fat unkempt dude working there could not have been less interested. Ordering a glass of claret, he didn’t immediately just go pour the drink – like, you know, you’d expect – he flipped through some tv channels, hitched his pants, examined his fingernails, and then uncorked the bottle.


This joint used to have a reputation for quality, but something is wrong. Behind the bar, the ‘server’s’ sloth was reflected; messy fridges, dirty equipment and disorganization all over the place. No-one cared about anything here, and it showed. I’ll never recommend it.

By contrast, the sports bar was a wonder. The first thing to notice was the cleanliness. Everything was shiny gleaming clean, and, being a slow weeknight, the barmaid was buffing the liquor bottles from foot to spout. Even the little straw and napkin dispensers looked worthy of a Marine Staff Sergeant. The place looked cared for, which transfers in my mind to caring for the customer. Plus the guy behind the bar was civil.

I dunno, this seems so dead simple to me, I must be missing something.

*Here’s the full quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”