Not to be confused with a barcode, this kind of bar code consists of some unwritten rules for making you and the other folks around you comfortable when you’re sitting down at your local saloon knocking back a couple of cold ones. Sorta like the ethos of having a good time and not piss off the people around you.

All of them should seem pretty obvious and are usually considered taboo during polite conversation. It also make life a helluva lot easier and pleasant for the other patrons, not to mention the bartenders themselves.

Religion

A definite no-no. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by discussing religion when alcohol is involved. Questioning or debating matters of faith are complicated enough as it is and you’re not going to get on anybody’s good graces by trying to convert them over to your way of thinking. Talking about religion is a slippery slope and invariably the subject of abortion or the death penalty will come up and nobody needs to go there. This is especially true based on the number of drinks you and your fellow patrons might have imbibed.

If the topic does somehow come up and somebody asks your opinion, the best advice I can give is to say something like “To each his own” and then offer to buy the next round.

Politics

This one ranks right up there with religion for many of the same reasons. Unless it’s election night and there’s nothing else on the tube steer clear of this topic. Usually people come to bars to have a good time and not to rehash what went on in the political arena on any given day. Once the topic does come up the conversation will usually become heated and I’ve seen many good friendships break up over trivial bullshit. The discussion of politics will often lead to such things as war, guns, gays, taxes and other societal matters that are best left to the so-called experts. This is especially true when the warring parties have reached such a state of inebriation that their speech becomes slurred and the volume of their arguments intensify as more drinks are consumed.

The only exception I would make to this rule is when the bar might be hosting a political fundraiser and all in attendance are in lockstep with a given cause. Even then, it kinda boring to have everybody in the room agreeing with everybody else.

Race

Another no-brainer. Depending on one’s point of view this will usually result in charges of being accused of racism. From there, it can only snowball further downhill and the charges will become uglier and uglier. If, for some reason, you do consider yourself a racist and are proud of it, please leave your opinions at the door and don’t bother the rest of us.

Depending on the nature of the saloon, I’ve always found that the best way to strike up a friendly conversation is to know your audience. If you’re a stranger there, take heed of the regulars sitting at the bar and eavesdrop a bit on their conversation before opening up your pie hole and offering up your wisdoms about every topic under the sun. It might save you the embarrassment of being tossed out on your ass.

That’s why I’ve been going to the same place for the last 15 years. The people and staff are friendly and I’ve never seen a fight in my entire drinking career there. Arguments and heated discussions are bound to happen every now then but I’ve never see them denigrate into fisticuffs.

If they did, I’d be the first one out the door.

Cheers!

Update: Other folks have been kind enough to point out that these topics are also best avoided in other instances and locations such as family dinners and at the office. Pretty sound advice if you ask me.

Written for A BUSINESS PROPOSITION QUEST 2012 and don’t try and tell me otherwise.

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