Sunday, July 31, 2011

Preventing Liquor Violence

Sporadically appearing in the news is "alcohol fuelled violence".

There is much written & said about the attributes of Crowd Controllers, calls for new & tougher laws, penalties, shorter trading hours, curfews, lockouts etc.

Most of this is aimed at Liquor Licencees. There has been an explosion of regulation, such that at the Wayside Tavern one key staff member wastes, pardon, is occupied for one full day each week, dealing with the paperwork of compliance minutae.

There is considerable regulatory heat brought to bear on licenced premises & licencees. We are continually lumbered with requirements for "more security guards" "more courses in Responsible Service of Alcohol" & are threated overtly & covertly with ever more dire penalties if there is even a whiff of "trouble" in our premises.

The State Premier makes big noise about "harm minimisation" & how licencees & the govt shall "work together" to cure "alcohol fuelled violence" blah blah blah.

Here is how much support we get:
Two males kick off inside, they demand (for no reason) to be paid $7,500 cash, claiming this is a gambling win they are "owed". There appears to be no trigger for this demand. They become quite unreasonable.

Senior staff attend, discuss the matter with them. The two males are incredibly rude, crude & abusive to this female staff member. A hotline (manned all night) is phoned to check if there has been any sort of gambling win, or event that may have caused them to believe they had won something. There isn't.

The head of the security company happens to be nearby, he talks to them. They unload further rudeness & abuse onto him. He escorts them outside onto the street.

This is where they really kick off. They offer to "fight anybody". Then they attempt to reenter the premises. It takes three very robust security guards to keep them out. They attempt to throat punch the guards. They won't stop. The police are called.

Observation of the video footage shows this is no ordinary scuffle or the like, there is real menace in the air, these men are either "on something", or for some reason they are keyed up far beyond what can usually be expected.

Arrival of the police calms them down. However there is considerable video footage of what happened, & the head of the security company is left in a shredded shirt & a shredded & torn parka.

The police talk with the pair for a minute or so, then instruct them to go home.

One security guard is up for a new shirt & new parka.
Two men (& any others watching) have learned there is no penalty of any sort for some of the roughest behaviour one can engage in outside a boxing ring.

Tomorrow, or sometime soon, the premier will be talking of further impositions upon the liquor industry, as we "can't keep our act clean".

Mine Host's observation:
If all the Premier's current paperwork can't stop these people kicking off, how is even more paperwork, tighter inspection of a pub's manager's register & security guard accreditation going to help?

Perhaps she could try imposing some actual penalties for bad behaviour. Just a thought.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Packs rather a punch, even without the chaser/side dish!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why they Serve

An early boss of Mine Host's has recently resigned a role he had held for most of his adult life.

That of Captain of his Fire Brigade.

For almost 50 years he'd been a member of the Fire Brigade. He'd fought (and beaten) fires inside his brigade area ranging from billy boilers to some of the largest scale & most newsworthy fires the nation has seen.

He knew how any particular fire would behave in a given set of conditions.

The men in the Fire Brigade deferred to him because of his experience, reliability & the soundness of his decisions.

For they served in the Fire Brigade for the same reason as he:
To protect their livlihood, their loved ones, & their community, from being burned.

Fire Brigade HQ in Sydney issued a written directive.
His written response was posted to Sydney: "No"
Fire Brigade HQ in Sydney contacted him for clarification. (The word "No" requires clarification?)
He clarified: "Your directive does not make sense, if I carried it out our brigade's fire-fighting capability would be reduced. So the answer is No."

"Your opinion is irrelevant sir. This is a directive of the NSW Bush Fire Brigade HQ in Sydney (or whatever they are called) & you must carry out this directive, as it is from your superiors."
Response: "I am the Captain of the Dry Gully Fire Brigade. In all matters to do with fire fighting my opinion is very relevant. I am elected by my peers, my experience is extensive. I have fought (names several notable fires) and I have never lost a house, farm, or a person to a fire. By the way, I'm a free Australian citizen & a wheat farmer, I don't have superiors."

"I am the Grand Poobah of issuing directives to you hicks in Bush Fire Brigades, and I have lotsa scrambled eggs on my uniform epaulettes to prove it. You don't even have a degree." (He actually said that last phrase word-for-word, "you don't even have a degree")
Response: "Listen youngster, I have fought (again names several notable fires), how many have you fought?"

*....brief silence....*

"...(cough)...What is important sir is the application of new laws pertaining to Bush Fire Brigades. These laws say you must not attend a fire, nor carry out any fire-fighting activity, without my orders to do so. Once you are ordered to attend a fire, before any escalation in activity, or any change of plans, you must obtain further orders from me."
Response: "No, I won't be taking your orders, I prefer my fires extinguished."

"This is the law sir. You have no choice."
Response: "If I dance to your BS houses will burn down and there's no point being in the Fire Brigade."

Then the Public Servant (who didn't understand that for some people "Public Service" is a verb) played what he believed was a cunning trump card:

"Sir, you are a few months short of 50 years of service in the Fire Brigade, once you reach the 50 year milestone you will be awarded the 50-year service medal. This medal is a recognised decoration, to be worn in public or with evening dress."

This is the point at which an honourable man resigned the post he'd held for most of his adult life.

The medal would only have languished in a drawer in the bedroom. He'd no more have worn it in public (sheep sales, tractor field days, etc) than he'd have worn a pink tutu.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wrong Number

As does everybody, The Wayside Tavern has a telephone number listed in the White Pages (the telephone directory).

Out of the blue a letter from Telecom arrives, informing that effective the end of the month, "service 07 9876 5444" would be withdrawn from use. (This is the Wayside Tavern's number as published in the White Pages)

A "Waddya mean by this?" phone call was placed to Telecom. Reply: "You shouldn't have that number, so it is being suspended from use"

Telecom had allocated that number some decades ago, when STD phones were connected.

The response did not waver: "You haven't the right to that number sir, thus it will be removed from your account"

There wasn't a person in Telecom, with or without personal clout, to whom Mine Host did not appeal.

At the end of the month that one number went dead. Pleadings to Telecom to return the number fell upon deaf ears.

For the next three years that number remained listed in the White Pages, despite every attempt by Mine Host to remove it & have it replaced with the new phone number.

Heaven only knows how many phone calls we missed because diallers could not find our number. Local businesses would resort to walking down to see us, because the number they had for us didn't seem to ever work.

In the years since Mine Host has sporadically dialled the number, it remains dead. It was never given to anybody else. Mine Host cannot fathom why it suddenly was suspended, after umpteen years of it being the Wayside Tavern's published telephone number.

The new number is: (say)
07 9876 3444.
The old number was: (say)
07 9876 5444.
Other numbers we had before, & still have include: (say)
07 9876 5443
07 9876 5445

You couldn't make up this stuff.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unsafe Procedure

The Manager revealed to Mine Host that there was a problem with the safe door, consequently he was unable to get at his operating float & takings.

The "problem" with the safe door was that it was locked.

And nobody knew how to open it.

It had been locked several days previously, by accident, & now it "wouldn't open".

Mine Host didn't insult the manager's (now somewhat tarnished) intelligence by asking "does anybody else there know the combination?" (this is one of those things that separates great men from journeyman bosses, something Mine Host learned by observation in his early jobs)

It was then revealed that the manager had contacted his predecessor to enquire about the combination.

Mine Host didn't even bother to ask how the predecessor responded. This is where Mine Host went as close to losing his cool (with staff) as he has for many a year. The predecessor is persona non grata with Mine Host, and the manager was asked the reasonable & pertinent question: "When would it have occured to you that I may know something about the gear in my own pub?"

Mine Host then, without realising it, went & used hisself some cuss-words. This may have given the manager the impression that contacting the predecessor had been a bad career move.

Lasting impression: What is the point of a safe if you are only going to push the door closed, but not lock it?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Not one of Mine

Fronting the cashier console at the truck stop, Mine Host plops his late night snack purchases on the counter.

The attendant is most unappealing. This young slattern is dressed in a particularly ill-designed tracksuit, is overweight & has the dead eyes of someone who cares not a whit for the world. Though she is barely old enough, Mine Host hazards a private guess that she is a single mother, as likely was her own mother.
She has that dead, dullard, unmotivated demeanour one expects from the terminally entitled & terminally unintelligent.

The usual staff appear like a jack-in-the-box. Filipinos all, they are her antithesis. Dressed in pressed uniforms, with a cheery demeanour & a bright sparkle in their eye.

As a trio they are a clear example of why employers are desperate for overseas workers. The bottom of the barrel has been well & truly scraped in Australia.

Anyone who doesn't have a job in Australia plain doesn't want one.

A charming Filipino lad is training the puffy faced & unwashed female caucasian. He supervises as she processes Mine Host's purchase of three separate items.

A sausage roll,
A pie,
A bag of Smith's chips.

She lethargically picks up the nearest item,the sausage roll, and waves it in front of the scanner.

*beep* *beep* *beep* She waves it back & forth, registering it three times.

She then pushes all three items back to Mine Host, & quotes him the amount shown on the cash register....

..... the Filipino lad smoothly & unobtrusivly presses a few buttons on the register to void the latter two of her scans, then asks her to scan the pie & the chips as separate items in the sale.

She has no idea why he "stopped" her sale. There is no confusion or misundertanding in her eyes, just dullness. If he wants her to scan it this way, fine. And while ever he is standing there beside her, she'll probably do sales "his" way.

It is patently obvious that she will never understand what was wrong with just picking up the sausage roll & scanning it three times. After all, there were three items in the sale.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beware! Thieves are Everywhere!

Big excitement! In broad daylight a car has been stolen from right in front of the Wayside Tavern!

Mid-afternoon and two middle aged tradesmen lurch out of the Wayside Tavern. They've had a very good day, only to discover their work truck is not where they parked it!

Brows furrowing they look up & down the street, it isn't parked anywhere in sight.

Broad framed brothers, still in their work clothes, they become most frantic. It is not just a matter of having to walk home, all their tools, ladders, etc are in their work truck.

They phone the police to report the theft. Two constables attend and take details from the now irate brothers.

This is serious business. The two constables make enquiries. The truck is located in the carpark of a pub at the other end of town.

In search of whoever drove it there, police descend upon this other pub!

Plenty of excitement & plenty of gawkers, for this is the most exciting thing to happen in weeks.

It turns out half the people in this other pub saw who drove the truck there & parked it. It was two middle aged brothers in tradesmen's clobber.

It transpired that the two brothers had begun their drinking that morning in the Wayside Tavern, parking out the front. On a whim they'd driven up to the other pub for lunch, later walking the couple of miles back to the Wayside Tavern to continue their session.

They'd completely forgotten their excursion, & flatly refused to believe what they were told. They hotly demanded the police "do something". Their attitude was most vengeful.

The police went away & left 'em to it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pay up or Speak Clearly

"Gissacanejewce" barks Dave Drongo, his mate Brian Boofhead says "Makutoo".

They are leaning on the bar ordering drinks. Mine Host can barely decipher what they are saying. (They are asking first for a rum, and then "make it two")

Heidi von Cuteshape, the German backpacker bar attendant, has no hope of understanding them. This is their cunning plan. In their narrow worldview, speaking rapidly to her in obscure slang demonstrates their cultural superiority over someone whose first language is not English.
Mr. Drongo & Mr. Boofhead believe they are impressing her with their Ockerness.

Heidi thinks they are twits.

She has been instructed how to deal with exactly this situation:

Serving a pint of Guinness to Dave Drongo, & a Creme de Menthe (ooh la la) to Brian Boofhead, she quickly scoops the money from their pile, & informs them that they'll only be served again once they drink their "order".

Seeing the look in her eye, and the "you pair asked for that" mirth from the other drinkers, they reluctantly comply.

Result: An outbreak of clearly enunciated speech among the clientele (when ordering from NESB bar staff).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cover Charge

Scene: Streetfront of the Wayside Tavern
Time: 10.30pm
Kamate (square jawed, barrel chested crowd controller)
Mr. Annoying Lout (member of public well known to Wayside Tavern staff)

Action: Kamate stands stalwart by the front door, with folded arms.
Mine Host is loitering off to one side, but is not part of the action.

Mr. Annoying Lout approaches the front door (and Kamate) with false bravado.

Mr. Lout, who is persona non grata at the Wayside Tavern, reaches into his pocket and offers Kamate cash to admit him.
"Will y'let me in for twenty bucks mate?"

Kamate (a man of few words) accepts the proffered $20 note, swiftly trousering it.
Mr. Lout struts through the door & into the foyer. He has gone two paces when the large hand of Kamate grabs him by the collar & reefs him backwards out through the front door.

"You said you'd let me in for $20!" Mr. Lout bleats indignantly.
"But I didn't say I wouldn't toss you straight out again" glares Kamate, leaving the $20 firmly in his pocket.

Kamate resumes standing firmly by the door, with arms folded.
Mr. Annoying Lout slinks away into the night.

There is no cover charge to enter the Wayside Tavern.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What about the Rest of Us?

Today, in the wake of an overnight assault upon a police officer, the Qld Police Union is stridently demanding mandatory custodial sentences for those convicted of assault upon a police officer.

Fair enough.

The Police Union president says the high number of assaults against police are because of "drugs, alcohol & weak laws".

Fair enough. Weak laws would be the principal reason, daylight second.
Though to this list Mine Host would add: Complete lack of respect for authority.

What about the rest of us? Why not mandatory custodial sentences for all those convicted of assault upon someone who is doing a job of work?

Some hideous assaults have at times been carried out against staff of the Wayside Tavern. To the eternal shame of (Qld Police Union) president Ian Leavers' outfit, not all of these assaults have been that thoroughly investigated.

Often little to no interest is shown by police in assaults upon people who though performing a paid job of work, are not police officers.

For last night one of the staff at the Wayside Tavern was assaulted in the course of their duties. Watch with interest to see if Mr. Leavers' members are as diligent in prosecuting this assault.

My bet: The police will have to be pushed every step of the way, otherwise there simply won't be a prosecution.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Perfect Timing, JUST PERFECT!

Unconscious, in a rapidly enlarging pool of his own blood, a man lays in the middle of the dance floor at the Wayside Tavern.

The hushed circle of patrons stand back.
The lights come on, the music goes off.
Trade slows to a trickle.
The Ambulance is called.

One a.m. on Sunday morning.
The Wayside Tavern was really hopping!
This was the busiest couple of hours of the week.

More staff are at work than at any other time of the week. The dance floor is standing room only, the backyard is likewise. (Post-smoking laws, the backyard of a pub is usually busier than anywhere else.)

Stalwart Security Guards patrol the premises, indoors & out.
Every precaution that can be taken has been.
Floodlights turn the enclosed backyard into a football field.
Every patron has their ID scanned & recorded at point of entry.
Security cameras record onto watermarked hard drive.

This wasn't enough. In a split second one fellow on the dance floor has struck another with his fists. The damage is extensive. In the after action summary it seems that there may have been provocation.

The victim is knocked out. This is quite rare, for most pub dust-ups (especially among the middle class) are notable for the lack of damage done. This time there is quite a lot of blood, it forms an increasingly large pool around the prone victim's head.

The victim remains knocked out. He stays out for Ten minutes. In Mine Host's considerable experience, this is possibly the longest anyone knocked out in his pub has remained unconscious.

The ambulance attends, they take quite some time to load the patient. Then the pub staff commence mopping up the thick lake of blood.

It has been 45 minutes from first punch until the pub can trade again. About half of the day's gross profit has been foregone in this time.

The victim refuses to press charges.

The police decline to even charge the attacker with disorderly conduct on licenced premises. (They usually do decline, a legacy of last year's "improvements" - courtesy of the State Government - to the police prosecution process)

So continues life behind the bar.