You wake up to the bright afternoon sun shining through the smoke-stained slats of your window blinds. It’s 2:30 and there is only a vague recollection of details from the night before. But the details aren’t important; it will be the same tonight as it was last night.
You wonder around for a few minutes trying to decide what to do with yourself for the next three hours, when your next shift begins. The apartment is quiet and cluttered with chores that haven’t been done in at least a week. Priorities, they’re all relative. And you think to yourself “God, I need to get some laundry done. I can only wear that pair of black slacks to work one more time before coworkers and customers notice how truly filthy they are.”
There’s a low-level pounding in your head and a total lack of energy. So you make a cup of instant coffee and turn on the TV. Food doesn’t sound good at all. As a matter of fact, it makes you sick to even think about it. But the Folgers is your best friend.
The next hour is spent watching Cops with hollow interest. Only you are able to understand the need to just sit and thaw out for a while.
As 5:30 gets closer, you have to start rushing around to get ready for work. How is it possible to be running late? You ask yourself this same question every day but there’s never an answer.
You quickly iron a white tuxedo shirt, wipe off your black apron with a wet wash cloth, pull on a clean pair of white athletic socks and pull a pair of dirty black dress socks on over the top of the tube socks. Those dress socks just don’t have the support you will need to stand on your feet and perform for a live audience for the next seven hours. Why don’t they make thicker dress socks?
As you climb into your car, you hope that you have enough gas to get to work. No time to stop, you can’t be late again.
You are a bartender.
As you stroll through the door at 5:29, you are greeted by familiar sounds and smells. This feels more like home than home does. You start to feel alive.
You say hello to several regulars as you make your way through the dining room on your way to the bar. You stop, shake hands and make small talk that is filled with witty remarks. You are the only one who realizes that each remark you make is practiced and unoriginal. They think you are charming. You know that you are not.
“What did you order?” you ask a middle aged couple.
“We’re splitting the Zuppa di Mare and Pappardelle with Saffron,” the gentleman replies.
“You’re making me jealous,” you tease. “Those are my two favorite things on the menu. You’re going to love them. Come by the bar and give me a report when you’re finished with dinner.”
You hurry into the lounge and find Katie, the daytime bartender visiting with one of the busboys. You look around and can immediately see that she hasn’t cleaned or restocked anything. The place is a disaster. And there’s a list that she has taped to the side of the cash register. It says
“Saterday - day shift.
1. Theres alot of water in the bottom of the refrig.
2. Need more Kettel 1
3. Out of olives.”
Good thing she’s pretty.
When Katie started working at Giuseppe’s, she said she had experience. But you highly doubt it. The owner, Giuseppe DiGregorio probably hired her for her big fake tits. He’s an idiot.
Gently persuading Katie to restock and clean before clocking out never works. You’ve learned that you have to be direct. You have to treat her like a child. Sometimes you have to be flat-out rude. What’s her deal? You wonder what type of abuse she suffered from daddy, or mommy’s boyfriend, or mommy’s boyfriends that would make her more likely respond to abuse. Who the fuck cares? She won’t be around long. You’ve seen it before. Giuseppe will get tired of looking at her and will get rid of her.
No, he won’t actually fire her. He’s too much of a pussy to do that. Instead, he will start cutting her shifts down to the point where she can’t afford to stay here. This is the way it always happens.
There they are. The same three regulars that show up at the beginning of your shift every night. You spend at least two hours with them every night, yet you know very little about them.
There’s Craig. He’s about 40, maybe 50-years-old. You have no idea where he works, but you can tell by looking at him that he certainly doesn’t do anything physical for a job; he’s pasty and soft. He’s not married and you’re pretty sure that he has never been married. Hell, your pretty sure he’s still a virgin. But he loves the idea of being in love. He just can’t grasp what it takes to be charming and appealing to women. He can’t seem to NOT act creepy or geeky when it comes to chatting up the ladies. You are embarrassed for him.
Then there’s Annie. She’s probably about 40. She’s attractive and fit and works in some office that’s close by. She usually only has one or two drinks before heading on to whatever she does. But sometimes she gets carried away and has several more and ends up sticking around for most of the evening. You like that Annie the best. She can be funny and sexy when she gets a little loaded.
Finally, there’s Roger. He’s an attorney and a friend of Giuseppe. He never pays for anything and you're fairly certain Giuseppe owes him money. He’s nice enough, but tends to be a little demanding.
The bar has fourteen comfortably upholstered stools, two booths and two two-top tables. At the other side of the room, there's a baby grand piano. Arthur, a tall skinny 40-year-old guy with a toilet seat hair line and a shitty black suit is sitting at the keys playing Somewhere My Love, the theme to Dr. Zhivago, the wildly popular 1965 film starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. Most of the songs that Arthur plays are from the same era, which makes you wonder about his background. Perhaps he was taught to play by an overbearing mother who made him play the songs from her youth? He reminds you of a balding Norman Bates, the wierdo from Alford Hitchcock's Psycho.
For the next hour, you make small talk with Craig, Annie and Roger while keeping an eye on the server station. Although the orders are steadily coming in from the dining room, there are still only your three regular guest at the bar. This is the way it is where you work. The early crowd aren't big drinkers. You won't get really busy until at least 7:30.
Remember what happened last night? Good. Now tell the world.
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