Saturday, April 20, 2013

FYI: I quit The Draught Horse, no more quiz there (at least none I'm running)

Over the past five years I've been doing the Thursday night quiz at The Horse.  It's been largely fruitful but on a downward slope in a few ways from my perspective.  I'd been considering quitting at the end of this Spring term, and after not one but two unfortunate customer run-ins last night, on the heels of one two weeks ago, I decided that the next few weeks of the quiz there would be a few weeks too many.

First a cell phone cheater I disqualified two weeks ago returned to harass me at the beginning of the game last night.  He appeared already buzzed & looking for trouble at 9:02.  At one point he mockingly said "Oh, this guy takes his job seriously!" which for some reason was defined as a problem.  A fortnight ago he tried claiming prizes I was handing out to actual winning teams, not getting the social cue that if I don't announce your team score I'm fully well aware that you didn't get the last 20 consecutive questions correct on your own merit after getting only 3 correct in the Easy round.

Hyperbolic image, but funny...
Then some prick decided to have a loud cell phone argument literally 3 feet from my head - in a massive room where anywhere other than right next to the one guy running a bar-wide event would be in order - while I was attempting to explain the third round, and refused to have that argument anywhere else than in my face.  It became one of those events in which an over-entitled upper middle class kid who is used to (as I said at the time) having all the college employees on campus suck him off because his parents are paying tuition miscalculated that he had some similar form of power over me.  He discovered too late that he brought a pissing contest knife to a pissing contest gunfight.  As it stands I don't think the bar is legally bound to have my corner should one of these jackholes actually swing at me, or vice versa, and I'm not inclined to find out.  Unfortunately some these kids have been trained from a young age (or see here), correctly, that any incident they cause will rain down a lot more hell on the person working a job with whom they are fucking than they will reap themselves.

When awesome bar manager Jay K. (now living in San Diego, their gain and Philadelphia's loss) brought me on at DH after seeing my quiz at Ray's Happy Birthday Bar, figuring I'd be a good fit, the quiz crowd was more law and grad students.  I'd say that 5 years ago the average age in the room was in the late 20s, and is now in the early 20s, and this has been problematic.  Those few years make for a lot of difference in behavior.  There's also a big difference between a room of grad and law school students coming out for the quiz intentionally, and a room where half of the attendees are fifth-year seniors who happen to be drinking again and find themselves in a quiz by happenstance.

On the whole for most of the time I've been treated fairly, and I thank the staff for that.  Of course "the staff" has been very fluid recently, with a great deal of turnover the past couple of years, and by last night I think I was the only person working in the room who was there when I started.  Things are a bit unstable when your continuity is the quizzo guy.

I simply can't deal with X number of over-entitled 21 or 22 year olds who've been drinking, and have made it a mission to screw with the entertainment monkey with the mic.  This is especially the case when security is running late and AWOL (as happened at the beginning of last night with Mr. Drunken Cheater), leaving me to run a quiz and monitor the worst behavior directed at me in a very large room simultaneously.  And it hasn't helped that a few times when I have brought in management or security to deal with one or two clods in a huge room, ruining things for 120 others, that we enter into behavior negotiations with them instead of just booting them from the room.  Penny wise, pound foolish - unfortunately most of the bars I've worked have taken this approach with problem customers and I don't understand it, so no singling out The Draught Horse here.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that a partial motivation here is that fact that a couple of months ago, out of the blue and with no discussion, for the first times ever after more than 4 years, I'd been presented with a tab for one or two beers on nights I did bother drinking alcohol, on the way out the door.  The first time this happened I wrote it off as a new employee error, the second time I realized it was an change in policy, and maybe a little shady not even to mention when I ordered that a tab was being run.  Often I'd try making Thursday a mellow night, as I do imbibe on Wednesdays and weekend socializing is coming up.   I don't need to hit the sauce 3 or 4 consecutive nights, but I can live with 2-3 non-consecutive drinking nights per week and not feel like Charles Bukowski.

When Jay left town he told me that I was bringing in as much income for the bar as live bands, but I cost a lot less in terms of not paying extra security, property damage and band fees.  He suggested that I probably saved the bar several hundred to a thousand dollars or more, plus headache, each Thursday as opposed to live music.  It seems maybe then shooting me a couple of free beers (at wholesale cost to the bar no less!) would have been a good investment in addition to, in my experience, being the industry standard.  I mention this in part because this same undiscussed tab presentation started at El Camino Real a few weeks before the bar (which had by that point a surreal amount of turnover to the point where I no longer bothered learning each new week's employees' names) decided to pull the plug on the quiz with no notice after seating and serving the quiz regulars who came to play.  Dirty Frank's pulled that same stunt my final night, although in fairness I never paid a penny for a drink there.


What now?  In part this is a relief for me as I'm only anchored to leaving the house involuntarily one night per week, and I can certainly use my Thursday evenings and Friday mornings to work on my non-quiz income streams to the point where I can match-or-better the income lost by quitting.    I also have a few less profitable harebrained schemes to screw around with that I'm more likely to actually do something about with a day-shifted sleep schedule at the end of each week. Between writing material for the quiz, round-trip travel time and doing it we're talking about the equal of almost a full day's work at an office job.  There are few things more liberating than not needing to do a gig.

As I told some regulars last night who want to come out to my quizzes north of South Philly, if you know a relatively chill bar that might like to pick up a mellow Tuesday or Thursday night quiz, I might be up for that.  Hopefully nothing at a college campus, I'd like to do a quiz at a bar I'd hang out anyway.  I'm not actively pursuing that at the moment but would consider the right venue.  It would be great if the place you have in mind - and some of you are apparently already prepared to act as my unsolicited booking agents, thanks - would be somewhere I could keep the questions at an interesting level of difficulty.

Thus thank you again to the Temple U. community and Draught Horse for paying me to berate you with quiz for 5 years.  I feel I'm getting out before a good thing gets too bad.

1 comment:

Bill Willson said...

hey man! i've been to quizzo a few times since you've been the host(I'm 22 now) and i just want to say it is a shame to see you go. I have been good at trivia my entire life, but you seem to still stump my friends and I while making it interesting. I hope you find better gigs elsewhere,
Bill