Ask the Bartender: First Date Book Loaning Edition
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Ask the Bartender: First Date Book Loaning Edition

Ask the Bartender is Torontoist’s new advice column. Do you have a question or problem for Eva to solve? Email [email protected].

How do I transition from be a friendly regular with a bartender, barista, etc. to being a real life friend? Or in a more concise form…does the bartender want to be my friend?

The bartender may or may not want to be your friend. In order to determine this, however, you might have to catch the bartender in the cruel, sober light of day, a tricky feat now that winter is upon us. The seasonally appropriate solution? Invite the bartender to go skating with you. I will join because I love skating. While you’re off buying some hot chocolate at the rink house, I will ask the bartender if he or she wants to be your friend. If the answer is yes—huzzah! If the answer is no, then I will wonder what the hell the bartender is doing hanging out at the local skating rink with someone whom they so evidently dislike. In this case, I would suggest that you probably don’t want to be the bartender’s friend, either. Not only is this plan foolproof, it will also be excellent for your cardiovascular health.

Bottom line: the best way to figure out if the bartender wants to be your friend is by spending time with them when they’re not working. If they’re not receptive to the idea of hanging out outside of work, where they are, after all, paid to be nice to you, then they probably don’t want to be your friend.


I share a cubicle with somebody who texts all day. How do I get them to limit their at-work texting?

In answer to your question, I am personally partial to the time-honoured, “punch your co-worker in the face” solution. I also like the idea of buying (or actually just shoplifting, because hey, that’s what Shoppers Drug Mart is for) a sharpie and scrawling your colleague’s phone number all over the bathroom wall at Sneaky Dee’s. However, if these approaches seem too vigilante, in the first case, or abstract, in the second, perhaps the best solution here is the direct one: politely, but frankly, address your cubicle-mate about their textual excesses.

You might want to take this opportunity to ask the co-worker if there is anything you do during work hours that makes cubicle life frustrating for them. Then explain, in a neutral and non-aggressive way, that you find their texting in your shared workspace distracting. Offer to work on your annoying habits if they’ll do the same. This might be less cathartic than a theatrical office assault bonanza, but, on the bright side, it’s also likelier to foster a workplace culture of mutual tolerance and respect.


On a first date with a person I met online they loaned me a book that we had talked about. I think this is weird and perhaps a way to guarantee a second date. Am I obligated to return the book if don’t want a second date?

Hm. In this case, I get a strong impression that the date must have been really shitty, because otherwise you probably wouldn’t feel that sharing the book was weird, nor would you wonder whether or not to return it. If it had been a passable date, a little eager beaver book loanage certainly wouldn’t have been a dealbreaker—it seems unlikely that you’d think to yourself, after an okay first date, “Well, that was fun; too bad this individual was so quick to lend me a copy of Timothy Snyder’s excellent new tome, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.”

As for returning the book: I would say that certainly you’re obligated to do so. Even if this human does not expect it back, I would imagine that you wouldn’t want to keep a memento of a lousy date; if he or she truly lent it to you in a cynical bid to get into your pants, I have no idea why you’d want to store such a redolent albatross in your bookshelf, anyhow.

However, what you’re not obligated to do is go on a second date simply to get the book back to its rightful, if distastefully transparent and cunning owner. Fortunately, hiring a courier to do a one-time cash delivery is simple and cost-effective. The Toronto company Good Foot, a green business which employs individuals with developmental disabilities, would be a great choice. Have the book delivered back to your presumptive paramour, along with a pleasant but brief note acknowledging and thanking them for the loan, and head down to your public library for some guilt-free, delectably anti-social bookworming. You will be obliged to return your library loan eventually, but rest easy, the librarian probably doesn’t want to date you (see question one, above).

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