Xanax avengers

When a San Francisco waitress saw a man drop sleeping pills into his date's drink, she and the bartender acted fast.

Published March 20, 2007 9:23PM (EDT)

Here's a crazy story a reader just sent to us: a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about two bartenders whose sharp eyes and quick thinking prevented what could have easily become date rape.

According to the Chronicle, a woman identified by the court as Tatiana K. was at a bar in San Francisco's Noe Valley when her date did something decidedly unromantic: he slipped Xanax into her beer while she was in the restroom. Unfortunately for him, their waitress, Karri Cormican, saw him do it. After getting over her initial shock, she consulted with the bartender, Hannah Bridgeman-Oxley, and they came up with a plan. Cormican approached the table, told the couple she'd served them a beer from a bad keg, and replaced Tatiana's drink. Then, when Tatiana stepped outside for a cigarette break, Cormican ran outside with the beer and told her what was going on.

But here's where the story truly gets ridiculous -- while Cormican was telling Tatiana what had happened, Bridgeman-Oxley ran outside to tell them that she'd just seen the guy drop two more pills into her new beer. According to the Chronicle, all three glanced inside through the window and saw the guy desperately trying to sop up spilled beer from the glass that was "fizzing as if there were Alka-Seltzer in it."

The guy, Joseph Szlamnik, tried to say that he'd been served another bad beer, and that he and Tatiana were going to leave, but the bartenders were having none of it. Instead, Bridgeman-Oxley announced (and I love this quote), "Your date's over, mister. She's staying with us."

That was in May, 2005. But finally, after a long, drawn out court process, Szlamnik has been sentenced to a year in prison (the judge, however, suspended six months of it), which he started voluntarily in January. Unfortunately, Szlamnik got away with pleading guilty to "transporting and furnishing a narcotic rather than to a crime directly related to a planned sexual assault," and is due to be released in May. But at least his foray into Xanax cocktails wasn't successful, thanks to Cormican's and Bridgeman-Oxley's quick thinking.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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