Whether it's the drinks talking or just the person being weird, a night out can get scary quickly. Bars tend to attract all the crazies and women typically have to deal with the aftermath. People working at these bars have always known and sometimes intervened. Now, they are taking it to the next level to protect their customers. Whether it's a safeword, a safe drink, or just a look, bartenders and servers will come to the rescue with no questions asked.
We wanted to know how well it went over, so we looked throughout Reddit and found the craziest stories about bar heroes. This content was edited for clarity.
"I'm a straight guy and had a girl rescue me once from an uncomfortable situation. When I was at a bar with a couple of buddies and these two girls sitting in front of us that none of us were even interested let alone said anything to them at all started trying to chat us all up. When asked what we do for a living I said I was a garbage man and had kids in the hopes that alone would be enough for them to move on but, unfortunately, no.
So I must have been looking around the bar with the eyes that said 'get me the heck out of here' and this nice girl I never met came by and did the 'hey you! I haven't seen you in forever!' thing and gave me a great big hug which of course I thanked her for. She saw I was super uncomfortable and needed rescuing so she saved me.
I repaid her kindness with drinks and we met up later on for a movie. Since then I've been more aware of the signs and would help a stranger if ever the need presented itself.
We lost touch not long after the incident but it was nice to see that people will look out for strangers when they see a bad situation happening in front of them."
"My bar didn't have a safeword drink, but my favorite bartender swooped in more than once and looked after me - even at times when I hadn't asked him to yet.
I remember one time in particular when I came in with my roommate. She and I were sitting at the bar with our drinks, while a couple guys were sitting on the next two stools. They bought us drinks, so we did the usual polite thing and said thanks, introduced ourselves.
Within five or ten minutes of starting this conversation, they'd informed us that they were heading to an after party at their house and a bunch of people would be there and they said we should go with them. My roommate and I gave each other a 'Yeah, right' look and said thank you, but no.
Well, they wouldn't take no for an answer. They just kept right on trying to somehow convince us to leave and get in a car with two strange men to go to a house we'd never been to, and then just trust that it was safe?
After a little while, my bartender came over to us. He didn't say anything to me or to the guys, not a single word. Instead, he leaned on the bar across from us and started to grin. I smiled back, and so did my roommate, and the three of us just kept looking at each other and smiling silently. The guy talking at us slowly got quieter, then stopped talking at all, and then he and his friend walked away.
As soon as they left, the bartender straightened up and went back to work.
I have a lot of respect for anyone intuitive enough to pick up signals something is wrong and confident enough to resolve a potential conflict with so little effort.
I will admit I had an enormous crush on him. He very much knew that but thought I was too young for him because we were 7 years apart. We're still friends and both got married to other people last year. Funny enough, my husband is 7 years older than me."
"The bar I used work at had signs in the women's bathroom informing the ladies to order a 'Pink Russian' if they were feeling uncomfortable with their date. I know a Pink Russian is an actual drink, but it's not one that we had on the menu or would make. We originally would simply respond, 'Unfortunately, we don't stock the ingredients to make a Pink Russian' and then the wheels started to spin into how we could make the drink an escape route for women.
There was only one public entry/exit point to our bar, so our procedure, when possible was to help them exit through the kitchen and out through the loading dock so their creeper date wouldn't see them leaving.
If they weren't able to order the drink on their own at the bar for whatever reason, or they ordered at the table, we would make an excuse to have the guy come to the bar. We would typically say there was something wrong with their credit card (we required a credit card be held in the cash till when running a bar tab). Or if the lady had placed her credit card for the tab then we'd ask her to come up and 'resolve the issue.'
Over the three years I worked there, I'd estimate at least one lady a week ordering a Pink Russian in the winter months and maybe 3 or 4 a week in the summer months since it's a waterside bar, increased patronage in the summer.
The one that stands out most in my memory was a young lady, maybe 22, on a date with this 35+ year old dude. When she got up to go to the bathroom he waited outside the toilet door for her. And then she wanted to order a drink at the bar and he stood unnecessarily close to her while she ordered. Kept telling her what she should get. She looked at me while smiling like she was dead inside and cheerily said "a double Pink Russian, straight up, please". She wanted out immediately. I gave her the line about not having the ingredients, but offered a strawberry daiquiri instead with a wink and nod of acknowledgement.
In an effort to separate them I asked him if he'd like to start a bar tab, he said no, so I jeered him a bit saying things like 'I'm sure running a tab will impress your date here' and 'it means you'll see my face a little less, because I won't have to come to the table to charge your drinks each round.' He started the tab, ordered his drink, and they went to sit down.
About 5 minutes after they sat down, I went out and asked him if he could come to the bar because there was a problem with the pre-authorisation charge we do on bar tab credit cards. He came up. I fiddled around with the machine so it would decline his care a few times.
One of the girls I work with went over to their table and asked the lady if she ordered the Pink Russian, she said yes, and they get up to head out through the kitchen while old mate is at the bar fixing his card problem.
Her date happened to turn around in frustration as the lady walked into the kitchen and asked why she was going in there. I shrugged and said I'd go find out. Went into the kitchen for a minute came back and said: 'one of the chefs knows her, just wanted to say hi.' The dude then proceeded to stand at the kitchen door for 10 minutes waiting for her.
He was asked several times to move because he's in the way. He then accused us of kidnapping his date because she hadn't come back. I had to tell him she bailed on him because she wouldn't be coming back. He started making a scene and demanded to go into the kitchen to see if she was there. He pushed his way through and saw she wasn't in there.
He stormed out and said he was calling the police. By this point, we had to tell him what was up because we didn't want to waste the police time.
He made a scene after being told he made her uncomfortable for whatever reason and she needed us to help her out. He kept going and we had to call the police to get him to leave, explained the situation to them, and they just responded saying 'maybe you shouldn't be a jerk, mate' and the dude left.
The lady came in a few weeks later to thank us for helping her out.
That time was the most dramatic. Most dudes just accept that their date has ghosted them and get on with their life.
People sometimes ask if we had an option for men. We did. It was a Boston Collins. It was rarely used in the time I was there.
When people ask for a Boston Collins story, I say there weren't too many over the years, but one that I was involved in was two gay dudes in on a date and one was quite a twinkish feminine dude, relatively attractive, while the other was a morbidly obese man.
It was pretty clear from the body language of the young guy that he was not impressed with the situation. Probably catfished or something. He came to the bar and ordered a drink then went to the bathroom.
The other guy got up and also went to the bathroom. Not completely unusual because they must be on the same pee cycles. The younger guy came out a couple of minutes later and said, quite urgently and concerned, 'cancel my last drink, change it to the Boston Collins, please.'
I knew the big dude was still in the bathroom so I just took the other guy straight through the kitchen. He was quite distressed when we got out the back so I had a chat with him.
Turns out the big dude had come into the toilet and tried to make a move on him. Pinned him against the wall and kissed him while the young guy was finishing up. He touched him up in the crotch area. The young guy got out and came to me.
I encouraged him to report it to the police and that I would make a formal record of it in our incidence register so if the police needed any details from our end then we would have them available. I also saved the CCTV footage for the incidence register.
Unfortunately, the police never came to see us, so I assume the young guy never made an official complaint.
I am aware the system is a little flawed in case both men know about the drink but we were doing the best we can with the situation. The system was that the option for help is available if a person needed it."
"I was waiting for the EL at the Diversey stop in Chicago around 10 pm on a weeknight back in 2013ish. My phone battery was dead. I got up to the platform and there was a guy on the phone ranting and crying. He looked like an aging punk rocker and seemed tweaked out with his movements and expressions. We were the only 2 people up there with no train in sight, so I try to keep my distance. After 10 min or so, I see the train and the guy moves towards me, still crying and now ranting to me. Sounds like he got dumped. I said I was sorry.
He asked if I could go somewhere and talk to him. I said I'm sorry, but I need to go home. The train was getting closer. He started begging me to go somewhere with him to talk, and I said no, I really needed to go home. Just before the train came in, he leaned in and said 'I can kill you' and kind of laughed. I felt he was strongly implying he'd push me into the train, but part of me wanted to believe he was making a bad joke. I said, 'Ok lets go to X bar' that was very close to the train. I figured I'd be safer at street level and at a bar, so I went in and tried to act normal.
The guy immediately starts shooting hard drinks and was behaving extremely fidgety and jittery. It was like he was going out of his way to say things to make me feel uncomfortable and nervous. He wanted to play like weird psychological games that were meant to make me feel like he 'knew' me better than I knew myself. It felt like a control tactic. I don't know how else to explain it. For example, I tried to pretend I was getting a phone call, and he told me he knew I wasn't and pushed my phone down. He then went on to tell me how he used to be an attorney, but was disbarred because he killed someone. I told him I was an attorney, which was true, and he definitely spoke easily about some things about attorneys that an average person would not have known, making me wonder how he knew that stuff. He asked if I wanted to know how he killed the guy and I said no, that I was sure it was deserved or self defense and that stuff happens. I just tried to downplay it and make it seem like I thought he was normal and that I sympathized with him.
He pulled out his hand, made a weapon with it, pointed it at me and said, 'I shot him.' I again tried to downplay it. He then shouted 'JUST KIDDING!' But just as I was feeling slightly relieved, he jumped in and said 'actually, I smashed his head into a table' and then kind of demonstrated how he did it and the circumstances behind it. So yea, the just kidding wasn't that he was kidding about killing someone; he was kidding about how he did it. I downplayed it again. At some point, for some reason, he gave me his full name.
He finally got up to use the bathroom and I ran to the bartender and just said 'I don't have time to explain, but I need you to help me get out of this. Please hail a cab and make sure I get in it.' Guy had been very weird and aggressive with the bartender earlier, so I felt like he wouldn't doubt me. He came out of the bathroom and saw me talking to the bartender and started getting even weirder and now possessive. I said I needed to go, while the bartender (huge guy) sort of got between us and said, 'ok time to go home, buddy.' The guy followed me outside screaming at me telling me he I'll regret this etc. He tried to follow me into my cab, while bartender held him back until I took off.
When I got home, I was extremely shaken and googled his name and found his mugshot. I don't think it was for murder, but it was definitely him, as he was pretty distinctive looking.
My husband encouraged me to report it to the police, but I had a work trip early the next day. I asked a colleague who is a former Chicago cop whether I should have reported it, and he shrugged it off and told me that since I willingly went with him, it would look bad for me. I never reported it so to be fair, I don't know how the cops actually would have responded. Maybe they would have been great, but I really didn't want to be put in a position to be blamed, especially because I didn't report it the same night, and my evaluation was based on what the former cop told me and my general impression of the Chicago cops I've known in the past. Honestly, part of me was afraid, too, of the guy then knowing my name and retaliating. It just seemed easier to not report it than to report it."
"The bar I went to regularly doesn't have a 'safe word' drink, but we do have a drink called the 'Lucy Special.'
If you had men that you notice are trying to buy you a lot of drinks and made you feel uncomfortable, or if you just don't trust who you are around and want to keep your wits about you, the Lucy special is a glass of ice, soda water, and crushed limes.
A lot of people would say that this is a safe word drink. My interpretation of a 'safe word drink' was one in which the drink name was actually a code word to get you out of a situation or to get help/emergency services. The purpose of this is to make it seem like you are drinking when you are still sober - but yes, they both keep you safe! So it just might be a 'safe word' drink!
At this bar, they have waitresses that do table service so the men don't see the drinks being poured. As far as I'm aware they charge the men for a spirit but with some kind of discount, I'm not quite sure how much they actually cost.
It does feel dodgy drinking what men think are strong drinks when in fact it's just some expensive water, however, it's only really used by women who are trying to protect themselves."
"Not me but my friend. Here in Sydney a few bars have signs on the back of bathroom stalls which say that if you're on a first date or are feeling uncomfortable with the person you're with you go up to the bar or just mention 'Angela' and the staff will call you a cab or make up a situation to get you out of it.
My friend was on a tinder date and the dude was being really creepy so she went up to the bar and mentioned 'Angela' and they came up to her table a few minutes later saying her mum had called the restaurant because she couldn't get through to her phone and that there was a family emergency and they booked her a cab to get home."
"I was at a bar alone and it was late and the guy wouldn't leave me alone. The bartender swooped in and said he was my husband and I was there waiting for him to get off work. He grabbed all my stuff and brought it to the other side of the bar and the other bartender got the guy out they had me wait for a while after he left then they got me an Uber home to be safe. 3 years later the bartender who pretended to be my husband, is my actual husband.
His bar was right next to the train station I commute through. I went back in a couple days later to thank him, and we kept hitting it off. We became fast friends first. I'd come in whenever I missed a train which was a lot. I'd go for a drink but wind up staying and talking until he closed all the time. Other bartenders and the owners kept saying we were in love with each other. On one of his days off, he told me to come with him to the other bar the same owners owned next door because he needed to pick up a check or something. The owner gave us free tickets to the Rangers game (the bar was right next to Madison Square Garden). That's the day things started to change. We got engaged a year later and married this past June."
"My mother told me a story about a guy she went on a date with from some middle eastern country back in the late 70s/early 80s. They went to a nice restaurant all dolled up and he started saying stuff about how he is from some super rich family and how he was basically a Saudi prince. He said, 'I am going to fly you back home tonight and make you my princess' or something close to that and red flags just unfurled around the dining room in her eyes. She excused herself to the restroom and was in the middle of climbing onto a sink to get out the window when a server looked in, asked if she needed help sneaking out, and walked her through the kitchen and out the back door. She said she ran almost 3 miles in heels to get to a friends place.
Never heard from him again though."
"I ordered a Manhattan. Bartender told me I had a call at the phone at the end of the bar. I go over and look around for a phone but can't find one. He then asks me if I need a cab and that I can wait out back for it to arrive. I had no idea what was going on, and after a few exchanges of quizzical looks, he explained that a Manhattan is their safe drink. I just wanted a Manhattan.
He said I was the first person in years to have ordered one at that bar."
"I met my GF of five months on a first bumble date at a brewery in Connecticut. She arrived before I did and unbeknownst to me had made a pact with two female bartenders.
She told them that if she ordered this brand of drink neat that she felt uncomfortable but not scared if she ordered it on the rocks, that she'd have someone call the bar for her for her to go, and if she ordered it double that they need to help her to the car.
So no matter how she felt, there was a code involved.
And one of the bartenders came over to ask if she'd like that drink now? And she kindly declined.
Five months strong for a weird first date safeword order!"
"I had a creeper at a hotel bar who wouldn't leave me alone despite my best efforts to ignore him. I even asked him politely and not so politely to leave me alone. He actually kept trying to touch me and told me that I was going to go to his room with him. He had a strange angry edge too. So I gave the bartender a 'help me' look and said to him something like, 'I need to talk to you about that thing with my tab, remember?' and asked if could do it when the bar closed which was 5 minutes later. The bartender looked at me and said, 'Give me a minute,' made a phone call and then said, 'So, they can help you at the front desk.' Meanwhile, the creeper was not leaving me alone and was still trying to actually hang on me and kept talking.
So I started to leave and the creeper was trying to kiss me and pulled me close but I told him I have business at the front desk and walked to the front desk. About 3 employees were there and I said: 'The Bartender said you could help me with my tab?' And one of the employees said, 'Oh, I need you to come here with me to fix that.' And she said to the guy, 'You need to stay here, this is personal business.' The employee (a woman) and I started to walk away and of course, the creeper followed us. She actually walked me to a staff elevator and he tried to get on with us. She told him, 'Get out of here and leave us alone!' as a male hotel employee came up to him just then and the elevator door shut. The employee walked me to my room door and stayed until I had it locked on the other side.
I have had and still occasionally do have guys hit on me but never anything like this incident. I actually wrote a long long email to the hotel corporate office and the actual hotel about the bartender and two employees because they helped me in what I would say was above and beyond. That creepy guy really frightened me. I have been as brand loyal as possible to the hotel chain ever since.
So while this occurred in 2011, I came of age in the early 80s. It's a true statement that we felt the cops wouldn't help back then. So here I was - a businesswoman in a bar by herself. I should have been able to just get a drink and live my life, but there is always the voice of my mom telling me it's my fault if something happens because, 'nice girls don't go to bars!' And even though I know it's not true and I'd help any woman out in this sort of a situation, there is still that self-blame I grew up with.
Also, I just wanted to get to my room. I was tired and freaked out."