Scotland: My First Weekend As A Bar Wench

I couldn’t understand a fucking word, let alone an order. Slight exaggeration. It got better the more I got used to it, of course- for example, he’s saying Beck’s, not Bass; Irn-bru, not Ambrose- but then they got drunker and drunker and even less intelligible.

The Fife dialect and accent is one of the hardest to understand- even for other Scots. I’m so glad I’ve had practice with some of the dialects of the regions- England and Ireland, anyway- so it’s just the accent I’ve got to get used to.

Reminds me of my friend who’s got the Scottish uncle. Her impression of what she can understand of him: “Glaw glaw glaw glaw bee-ah. Glaw glaw glaw glaw Guinness.” Yea, pretty much. He must be from Fife.

Understanding Americans is hard enough with my bad ear. Now, I’ve inflection- really fast, almost Gaelic, and often drunken- to complete with.

The teenagers are the worst, second only to the drunken men. You know how teenagers are anyway, with their own private lingos. Toss on a heaping of Fife and watch them go. Whilst talking to Andrew, who’s 17 and Paul, who’s more intelligible at 21 (and anyway, from the Highlands), I felt the urge to record them to send back home. Had I brought a recorder, no doubt I would. I am considering a mike for my computer.

A number of men were quite taken with me. Well, with my Americanness.

“What’s that accent?”


“Ooh. Where in America?”

“New York.”


One man kept flirt-hassling me about it, yelling to me about dollars and cents when I’d give others change. He’d tell everyone he could that I was from New York- “so watch out!”

One guy thought I was Canadian.

I said no, American.

“Really? Right near the border, though?”

I must still have the Kids In The Hall-influenced inflection.

Frances (co-owner of the hotel) told me one said to her- I never found out who- “I’m in love with the girl from New York.” I got winks a lot and as I passed, some would nudge their companion- “Ooh, the American.” somewhat lecherously.

My first or second order I got a wee tip, and that was about half my tips for the night. Wow. They weren’t kidding they don’t like to tip. I’d love to see them get away with that back in America.

I don’t mind, not really, though. Tips should be an optional thing- and more importantly, an EARNED thing. We’ve all seen how things can get taken for granted, and the results- customer service quality plummets.

But the other extreme? Well, that doesn’t necessarily inspire quality service, now does it? Come on people, we all live in a capitalist system, where we whore our labour power. Why not reward extra for extra, eh? Here, you get the same tip- zilch- when you’re an asshole that fucks up royally as when you get it perfect and are charming and inspire a crush.

Two of my four tips over the course of the two crazy busy nights were the result of people forgetting their change.

Understandably, they’d get frustrated with me because I couldn’t understand them half the time. I wanted to tell them- Look, I’m sorry, but take your frustration and multiply it by the amount of people I’m serving tonight and that’s where I’m at right now. Work with me, here. Just like Anthony, though, Christ- I’d say “Sorry?” and they’d repeat it in the same low rumbling mumble. Now how is that helpful, I ask you? And forget the blaring music. Though, now that I think of it, that did help them to speak loudly and elucidate. Ha!


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