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Bar Patron Asks If He Was Wrong To Not Chat With Bartender Since He Wanted A ‘Quiet Drink’

Man having beer at bar
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

We all have our own rituals to decompress at the end of a long week… or day.

Taking a long walk, reading a book, or just enjoying a cup of tea in a quiet place.

Perhaps the best thing about these rituals is the things we do on our own, for a simple moment of solitude, and to be alone with our thoughts.

As a result, some people don’t take too kindly when people try to edge their way in and engage in a conversation with no apparent end in sight.

Redditor Jim-Bob-Luke was looking forward to enjoying a quiet night out to himself, being alone with a book and a beer

Unfortunately, the original poster (OP) found his night ending on something of a sour note, after he overheard a jab, which he thought was directed right at him.

Making him seriously question his behavior.

Wondering if he had behaved badly, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole’ (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for not chatting to the barman when I wanted a quiet drink?”

The OP first explained why he looked forward to a few quiet moments every now and then.

“I (43 M[ale]) like to go for a quiet pint now and then and read. I’m quite happy going out with friends for drinks but sometimes I want a quiet drink and some peaceful reading time.”

“I work in a primary school and have two teenage children, I love the opportunity to have the odd quiet moment when I can.”

The opportunity recently arose, though it didn’t turn out quite the way the OP hoped it would.

“Anyway, I walked into a bar in my hometown that I don’t normally drink in, but it looked quiet when I walked past.”

“I ordered my pint of Guinness and made a comment about it being quiet and asked if he had a good new year.”

“I then took my pint and sat in the corner with my kindle.”

“It was a bit awkward as I was the only person there and the barman was hovering close even though the bar was empty.”

“The phone rang, and the barman answered, saying how quiet it was and that he was bored as the only person there ‘Wasn’t exactly chatty’ and laughed.”

“I felt really awkward after that and soon left.”

“Should I have made more effort to chat?”

“I wasn’t rude and made small talk when I ordered my drink.”

“Am I just paranoid?”

“I do suffer from depression, so I can be a little thin-skinned at times.”

“It took me ages to build up the courage to go for a pint on my own as I’m quite a quiet person, but I enjoy the peace and quiet.”

“AITA for being ignorant and not chatting with the barman?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community wholeheartedly agreed that the OP did nothing wrong by not engaging with his bartender.

Everyone agreed that the OP was more than entitled to a quiet night out, and thus had no obligation to strike up a conversation with the bartender, and had nothing to feel guilty about.

“NTA you are just paranoid.”

“I’m from a Pub background myself and have done more time behind bars than I care to remember.”

“If it were me or one of my siblings then we would have got reamed out of it.”

“I can tell that you are Irish by the post and the Barman is the AH here, the golden rule is that sitting up at the counter invites conversation, and sitting back from the counter doesn’t.”

“If the Barman doesn’t understand this then that is his problem, not yours, you are not there to entertain him, by your description sounds like a young lad.”

“Pubs are so quiet this time of the year he will find himself out of job with that sort of carry-on, in your shoes I would have made it as uncomfortable as possible for him, but that is just me.”

“Please for your own sake don’t let it put you off going back to a pub for a quiet pint, to use an Irish expression ‘One swallow doesn’t make it spring’.”

“I’ve a friend with a brother in a somewhat similar boat to you who was brought down to the Pub and got special attention to make him feel welcome and one smart arse comment off an AH an hour in put him right off which is a pity for him.”

“My advice is to go somewhere else with an old crowd who will leave you alone, socialization is a muscle that can made stronger with use, I’m not saying you have to be the centre of attention, but at the very least you should be in a position to have small talk without having to over think it or go for a pint when you feel like it.”- patdshaker

“Obviously NTA.”

“They are being paid to be your bartender, not your friend.”- Fire_alarm_010622


“If the barman is that indiscreet then I think I know why the place was so empty.”- WillWatsof


“That was rude of the barman to say that within earshot.”

“It’s not a bad thing to not be chatty.”

“It’s like people who don’t want to talk when getting their hair cut or a massage.”

“It’s a personal preference.”- West-Highway1840

“You’re NTA.”

“MOST of the time bartenders will make conversation with you just so you can be more considerate with their tip.”

“I’m a bartender myself & I’ve seen my friends do just about anything for an extra 10 LMFAO.”-ConfusionOpen3202


“You didn’t go there to entertain him.”

“He should have taken a book of his own.”- diminishingpatience

“So NTA.”

“He was rude.”- VeryJoyfulHeart59


“The barman was rather rude, though.”

“A part of what his duties are is to read the room.”

“Chat with whoever wants to chat, leave alone whoever doesn’t, and not make public announcements about what he might feel about it.”

“You are clearly entitled to sit and have your drink in peace.”- SnooSprouts6712

“NTA he was there to work, not be entertained.”- Reasonable_racoon

There were some, however, who didn’t think the bartender was being rude, or did anything wrong either. Understanding how sharing a few words might have made his slow night go by a little more quickly, even if they still agreed the OP was under no obligation to chat with him if he didn’t want to.


“I think you may be reading into barman’s comment a bit too much.”

“Wanting to have a quiet drink is totally valid.”

“Being bored during a quiet night at work is totally valid.”

“This would be different if he was speaking directly to you, but it sounds far more innocent than that.”

“I also have a tendency to read into things too deeply.”

“It reads like a throwaway line on a slow night at work.”

‘Bartender may ~slightly~ be TA for making a comment about you within earshot.’

“But it’s a pretty innocuous one at best.”

“Keep your chin up OP! Boethiiah


“You’re not obliged to chat with the barman.”

“Equally, him telling a friend that he’s bored because he’s only got one customer and they’re not exactly chatty isn’t a problem either.”

“It’s true – he is bored, and he would be less bored if you were up for a chat, but that doesn’t mean there’s an obligation for you to chat with him.”- _mmiggs_


“You eavesdropped and assumed the bartender meant something negative about you specifically.”

“I think he was probably just having a boring night at work.”

“Happens, not your fault.”- nicecream542


“You purposely sat in the corner with a book, not at the bar.”

“That should indicate to an experienced bartender that you don’t want to chat.”

“Yeah, he’s bored, but it’s not your job to entertain him.”

“What he said was rude and unprofessional.”- KronkLaSworda

“Yeah, it was maybe a touch thoughtless of the barman to make that comment where the customer could overhear, but still fairly innocuous.”

“Next time OP, just keep on enjoying your book in peace!”

“NAH” –sarita_sy07

Everyone is entitled to wanting a moment or two to themselves, be it at their home, in a library, or, indeed, in a pub. The OP didn’t go to the bar in hopes of having a social outing, but for a quiet night alone with his book.

Something the bartender seemed to notice, and also seemed to respect.

Though what the OP overheard hardly seemed like a jab at him, simply a statement of truth, that he wasn’t terribly chatty.

Hopefully the OP doesn’t carry this guilt with him for too much longer, and this experience doesn’t dampen his excitement to go out and enjoy a pint or two in the near future.

Who knows, one of these days he might find himself in a chatty mood.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.