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What The Bartender Sees
by [?]

He has a little false strength of mind and brain and that strength is used to mumble good resolutions.

He THINKS he will stop drinking. He thinks he could easily get money backing if he gave up drinking for good. He feels and really believes that he WILL stop drinking.

Perhaps he goes home, and for the hundredth time makes a poor woman believe him, and makes her weep once more for joy, as she has wept many times from sorrow.

But the bartender KNOWS that that man’s day has gone, and that Niagara River could turn back as easily as he could remount the swift stream that is sweeping him to destruction. —-

Five men come in together. Each asks of all the others:

“What are you going to have?”

The bartender spreads out his hands on the edge of the bar, attentive and prepared to work quickly.

Every man insists on “buying” something to drink in his turn. Each takes what the others insist on giving him.

Each thinks that he is hospitable.

But the bartender KNOWS that those men belong to the Great American Association for the Manufacture of Drunkards through “treating.”

Each of those men might perhaps take his glass of beer, or even something worse, with relative safety. But, as stupidly as stampeded animals pushing each other over a precipice, each insists on buying poison in his turn. And every one spends his money to make every other one, if possible, a hard-drinking and a wasted man. —-

You, Sir. Reader, have seen all these types and many others, have you not?

WHY did you see them? What REASON had you for seeing them?

The bartender stands studying the procession to destruction, because he must make his living in that way. He is a sort of clean-aproned Charon on a whiskey Styx, ferrying the multitude to perdition on the other side of the river. But what is YOUR business there?

You might as well be found inside an opium den.

The drink swallowed at the bar braces you, does it? If you think you need a drink, you REALLY need sleep, or better nourishment, or you need to live more sensibly. Drink will not give you what you need. It may for a moment make your nerves cease tormenting you. It may do in your system for an hour what opium does in the Chinese for a whole day. But if it lifts you up high, it drops you down HARD.

And remember:


You THINK you can take your occasional drink safely and philosophize about the procession that passes the bartender.

But the bartender KNOWS that you are no different from the others. They all began as you are beginning. They all, in the early stages, despised their own forerunners.

They were once as you are, and the bartender KNOWS that the chances are all in favor of your being eventually like one of them.

Even like the poor, thin, nervous drinker of hard whiskey, who once wondered why men drink too much. —-

The bartender’s procession is a sad one, and you who still think yourself safe are the saddest atom in the line, for you are there without sufficient excuse.

It is a long procession, and its end is far off.

It is born of the fact that life is dull, competition is keen, and ambition so often ends in sawdust failure.

A better chance for strugglers, a more generous reward for hard work, better organization of social life, solution of the great unsolved problem of real civilization, will end the bartender’s procession.

Meanwhile, keep out of it if you can. And be glad if it can be suspended, temporarily at least, on Sundays.