‘If you’re in a weird situation ask for Angela at the bar’

What was once a private code word, angel shots and other variations have become so well known that they are rarely used.

Angel shots and other code words have become so well known that patrons don’t use them. They were once a private language that helped people out of a bad situation. Margaret Harvey/Kicker

Margaret Harvey

Code words that have been known to help patrons out of a bad situation have become so well known that they are seldom, if ever, used.

Typically called an angel shot, this code phrase is requested when someone at a bar is feeling uncomfortable with someone in their presence; either a bad date or someone that just won’t leave them alone.

The person that feels uncomfortable can approach a bartender and say the code phrase, and depending on the variation, the employee will either escort you to your vehicle, call you a cab or call the police.

Josh Piercey, a former bouncer downtown, says he doesn’t trust the “cryptic” code words.

“While it’s a nice idea, and certainly has helped people out in the past, when you’re having a night out everything happens so fast, and the thought of passing on a code to the bartender probably wouldn’t cross your mind,” he said.

Karyn Gulliver, an employee at Dooly’s on Water Street, said the procedure been in effect longer than the time she’s worked there.

“We just have a sign in the bathroom on the doors inside the stalls saying like ‘if you’re in a weird situation ask for Angela at the bar,’” she said.

Dooly’s on Water Street uses the Ask for Angela code phrase. Though, employees can’t recall a time it has been used. Margaret Harvey/ Kicker

But, from her knowledge, no one has used it.

The previous general manager at Yellowbelly started their system around April of last year, but it has since phased out due to the lack of use according to the current general manager, Paul Tocknell.

He said it’s become common knowledge.

“Because it’d been around for a while, [the bartenders] said it got really well known with people,” he said. “The [employees] were a little bit weary of using it because it was no longer a private language.”

Although the signs have been taken down, Tocknell said if a customer asked for an angel shot now, the staff would still be aware that the person asking was in trouble.

“The good thing about this building is that we have a lot of places where we say, hey just come with us. It’s a big building and we can take you behind the scenes. It’s not an issue. We can get them off the floor and away from that person straight away,” Tocknell said.

The procedure for angel shots went viral around two years ago. Someone had posted a picture of the poster that was in a Hooter’s bathroom and it spread like wildfire around the world.

Piercey said that if you see a person that might be in a bad situation, to just plainly ask them if they’re OK.

“We shouldn’t be cryptic about it,” he said.

“It’s important for us not to be negligent to the fact that bad things happen downtown every night and the idea that it’ll never happen to me is ridiculous.”

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