Archive for the ‘ Work ’ Category

Etiquette

Last night was fun.  I was at work, as per usual.  We were short-handed on Security staff, but I was working as a bar-back.  This meant that I got to be both.  Unfortunately, that meant wearing my security shirt over my regular clothes, and I heat up very quickly.  That part sucked.

The bar-backing went as usual.  I wash glasses as fast as I safely can, then grab drinks for the wait-staff, then stock the coolers, then circle the bar looking for more glasses.  People stand at the bar, eyeing me expectantly.  I smile and tell them a real bartender will be with them in a second.  I’ve decided that it’s kinder to talk to people and then give them the bad news that I won’t be getting them drinks than to ignore them.  Occasionally this makes me new friends.

A couple of my friends came in after the show across the street let out.  Iced Earth played at the Summit, and I have more than a few friends into that sort of thing.  I didn’t get to talk to anyone much, but such is the price of being busy.  At one point, they found me behind the bar.  “People are smoking on the patio again, Justin.”  I told them to tell one of the other Security staff.  I looked around, but couldn’t point one out.  Fuck it.  I decided to handle it myself.  I could collect glasses on the way.  I slipped, slid, and plowed through the crowd.  I got out to the patio.  The wall opposite the patio entrance has a three by five foot sign painted on it that says “No Smoking.”  It’s a violation of city ordinance and the valve for our gas heater is on this patio.  These things, on top of how busy the bar was, evaporated my well of patience before I even spotted the cigarette.

A woman had left it burning on the chair while she and her friends messed with the decrepit Jenga blocks on the nearby table.  Every time that I asked someone not to smoke out there, they always responded with, “really?”  Like I was trying to be funny.  Then they asked why.  Then they asked where they could go.  Then they would say sorry.  Most of the time, the cigarette would still be burning in their hand.  Then they asked for one more drag.  Then they asked where they could put it out.  There are no ashtrays, because THERE’S NO SMOKING.  Alcohol makes people so dumb.  I didn’t really have time for the whole ridiculous process, so I didn’t bother.

I flipped my mental switch from ‘nice guy’ to ‘asshole.’  I walked over without saying a word.  I picked up the cigarette in my still wet hand, and I ground it out on the metal patio chair.  I carefully set it down again.  The woman was watching me, and said, “That was mine!”

“I know,” I replied.  I pointed to the enormous sign, then turned and strode back inside.

“You could have asked,” she said to the back of my head.  I was pretty sure she was pissed.  I was absolutely positive that I didn’t care.

“I know,” I replied.  I vanished into the crowded bar.

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Perfect Drug

“Justin, why haven’t you been writing?” I’m standing in Jenna and Aaron’s living room, and we’ve been talking about cocks for at least an hour. I get that way – the later at night, the more foul my language and thought. Not that it was ever particularly clean or wholesome. Anyway. I could give them no good reasons.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I’ve just been busy with work and booze and girls.” I feel like an asshole for saying it, and I will feel like an asshole all over again for writing it. The visit wraps up shortly after that. I make things painfully awkward one more time and Nick drops me off at home.
Now, it’s story time. I’m picking a true story, because it’s one to which I already know the words.
I was recently promoted to a bar-backing position at work. The details of my new schedule were still in the process of being hammered out. I got a call from the bar manager; he wanted me to come in last Wednesday to work from open to close. Even if I had wanted to decline, I wouldn’t have. I felt that I should show that I appreciated my new position. So, Wednesday morning (that’s 1PM for me), I started getting ready for work. As I emerged from the shower, I saw that I had a text from my kindred spirit. “I’m going to be in Denver in a little over an hour.” Damn it. This girl and I share a love of violence and Rockstar and a few other things. She’s generally an awesome chick. The problem is that my car is a heap of shit and she lives 70 miles south of me. So when she comes to town, I try to be free. It wasn’t going to happen this time.
I sent her a message. “You should swing by the [bar]. I’m on in 10 minutes.” Yeah, I’m aware that you could probably figure out which bar I work at, but I’m going to make you do the work. I fought my way through the snarl of traffic, and ran straight to work. I didn’t have time to stop for my customary Rockstar, but I’d have to survive. The boss got me going working on the opening checklist and everything that wasn’t part of my job was forgotten. I filled wells with ice. I stocked coolers. I made a list of bottles for the shelves, and was on my knees in the liquor closet when she came around the corner. You know that moment when you see someone, but you aren’t looking at the mental image that you have created around them? It was one of those. I was just getting to my feet, looking into her brown eyes like I’d never seen her before. She smiled, and it hit me like a lightning bolt. I recognized her again. I like to think I didn’t stagger to my feet or do any of the other clumsy things I’m liable to do when put in such positions, but I couldn’t tell you for certain. The next thing I could clearly remember was hugging her tight, exchanging hellos and good-to-see-yous.
I confessed that I hadn’t picked up my supply of Rockstar for the day, and she promptly disappeared. She was back maybe ten minutes later with the soon-to-be-extinct green one. My favorite. Talk about knowing the way to my heart! She sat down at the bar and ordered food while I kept working on cleaning the cooler. The bar manager walked by, and I asked him to put her on my tab. “Yeah, I figured. I put her in as ‘Justin’s Girl.’” I had forgotten that he’d already met her before. I laughed, and told her what the boss had told me. She got a good laugh out of it too.
We got to talk despite my being occupied with work duties, but time flies when you’re having fun. She had to leave to meet her brother. We hugged our goodbyes. I don’t know what made that hug special, but it was. We held each other, close and tightly, for a sweet moment. Then she was gone and I was busy working again. Maybe an hour went by before I was stocking the coolers again, and I spotted the glimmering green of another dose of my perfect drug. She had bought two. Talk about warming my frozen little heart.

Nostalgia

Tonight was a powerful reminder for me.  A ton of people from the last place I worked came in.  They were all super friendly and mostly well-behaved.  I was glad to see them.  For a split second, I almost missed my last job.  Fortunately, my brain was working.

I sat at the bar, enjoying my shift drink (even though I generally have more than just one).  I thought.  When was the last time anyone from that shard of my life talked to me?  I knew one, maybe two, times that it happened.

Fuck that shit.  Let go of your past.  It isn’t hanging on to you.

Poor

Money don’t grow on trees… 

My car is falling apart.  It is no surprise to anyone.  Even as things were blowing up in my face last summer, I started socking away money with the intention of getting new wheels.  The hope was that I could upgrade my ride this coming spring. 

My face is falling apart.  I haven’t had reliable access to dental care in a very, very long time.  I have a broken tooth.  I have done my best to keep my mouth clean, but I’m starting to get the occasional twinge.  I probably need a root canal.  I probably need more work on my whole mouth. 

The conundrum: I need working wheels to get to work.  I need to not be in constant pain so that I can work. 

I guess I’m getting a second job again.  Oh, and Christmas?  Cancelled.

Cold as Ice

Every night at last call, the lights go up and the bar atmosphere burns away just a little bit.  At very nearly the same time, the jukebox ceases to crank out whatever hip-hop or dubstep song is playing.  Christmas carols fill the air.  Those are my signals to turn off the row of pinball machines and inform the Texas Jenga players that the game they are working on is the last one of the night.  As each set goes down, I thank the players and tell them that they can leave the cleanup to me and go take care of tabs and such.  Sometimes they stick around and help me clean up anyway.  That’s pretty cool.  Once each set is re-stacked, I put a chair upside down on top of it.  Sort of a “This attraction is closed” sign.

Last night, I had a group of semi-regulars actually finish their game, clean it up, and put a chair on top of it.  Talk about cool people.  I can’t recall ever having a problem with any of them, and I have a pretty good memory.  Balance must be maintained, however.  Enter half-drunk girl who is used to just being given everything she wants.

I will admit, she was hot.  Blonde, blue eyes, fit, wearing a green mini-dress and black heels.  I was working on cleaning up the third or fourth of the five indoor sets when I saw the chair come down off of one I had already done.  I wasn’t mad about it.  I figured, “Someone must be new here.”  Things happen. I’m pretty fast at stacking the blocks at this point, so I blaze through the clean up and dart over to the newly re-opened set.

“Sorry, miss.  We’re all done playing Jenga for the night.”  I flip the chair up onto the stack again.  I’ve done the maneuver so often I feel like I could be on a drill team.  She points at the other table that’s still playing and asks the obvious question.

“At last call, I tell everyone to finish their games.  Those people are still working on theirs.”  She bats her eyes at me.  They really are something.  They sparkle.

“Please,” she asks.

There are two things she doesn’t know about me.  First, nothing angers me faster than an attempt to manipulate me.  I once read a book wherein some of the characters adopted the mantra, “My will, or I won’t.”  It’s something like that.  The second thing is that I try very hard to be fair.  I had just told two other groups that they couldn’t start new games and just abandon them when the last players lost.  My job is much easier when people think that the rules apply to everyone in the same way.

“No.”  Not even a second’s hesitation.  I’m fairly sure my eyes went flat.  I didn’t even crack a grin.

“You’re cold!”

“Yes, I am.”  Now I cracked a grin; I had just finished closing down the patio and it was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit.  My skin was literally ice cold.  I guess she thought my grin was a thawing of sorts.

“Please?”

“No.”

“You’re cold!”

“Yeah, I am.”  I held out my hand.  She touched it.

“Oh my God!  You ARE cold!”

“No heartbeat,” I said as I thumped my chest.  I kept smiling.  The second to last tower fell.  I skipped over and thanked the couple for playing and we cleaned up the blocks.  I looked over as I worked.  Guess who was taking the chair off of a set of blocks?  I finished and skipped back over to her.  My voice goes flat and mechanical.  “If you take another chair off of the blocks, I WILL throw you out.”  She looks pouty, but I can read in her eyes that she believes me.  Good.  I watch as she and her friend horn in on the last standing game.  It ends quickly and they disappear.  Apparently I didn’t make a new friend.  Whatever.

One of the cocktail waitresses later told me that she and her friend were watching and her friend bet that I would let the girl play because she was hot.  “No,” she had told her friend.  “He doesn’t give a fuck.”

Revenant

Last night was an absolutely brutal night.  Normally, Thursdays are pretty damn good.  I get to strap on my body armor and test my mettle against like-minded crazy people.  That part, at least, was typical.  The only blemish on an otherwise good practice was the fact that my lazy ass still hasn’t repaired my pauldrons so my dump-blocks would all result in my own sword being smashed into my left shoulder.  Fun stuff.

I rolled in to work at 10ish.  I was hoping for an easy night.  My shoulder was (and still is) quite tender.  I hadn’t even been there for half an hour when we got an ugly toss.  Some jack-off was getting belligerent over our insistence that the girl he was hitting on must leave.  My fellow security decided he had to leave too, and shit got worse.  Jack-off’s friend intercepted the other security guy, so I slipped past him and kept the pressure on to make sure Jack-off kept moving.  The usual protests ensued: “What did I do?  I’m not moving until you tell me why.”  “Why” may change, but the number of times they need it explained is always the same.  For those of you not paying attention, a drunk person needs the situation explained N+25 times, where N = the number of times I have the patience to calmly explain. 

We had had a staff meeting earlier in the day, and one of the things we talked about was improving customer service.  I tried very hard to be nicer than usual.  It got to the point where I literally begged Jack-off to keep moving.  That didn’t happen.  Surprise.  I did the usual and tried to take control of the situation.  I took him in a headlock and started pulling him out.  His friend kept yelling something about being able to calm him down.  Like that EVER works.  The guy twisted in my grip and picked me up.  I kicked us against the wall so that he had nowhere to put me.  He tried several more times.  No luck for him.  He changed tactics and tried to throw me to the ground.  I stepped in front and did some twisting of my own. I dropped him and fell on him like an undermined wall.  I braced for his inevitable struggle to get out.  He clawed at my face a few times, scratching me pretty good, but I had him.  I know I’m lucky that he couldn’t think clearly enough to start fighting really dirty, but let that go.  Finally, my boss and my other security guy got there and helped drag Jack-off out. 

I declined to swear out a complaint.  Fuck it.  He was already going to detox.  I didn’t need to make his day worse.

Maybe 20 minutes later, I watched a dude vomit on the patio.  Bounce number two.  I cleaned up the vomit.  At least the dude went easily.  His friends didn’t even seem mad.  Sometimes the silver lining is easy to find. 

Shit went on in this fashion all damn night.  Absolutely ridiculous.  Makes me wish the Broncos never win another game.

I slept awfully.  Too much adrenaline.  The standard amount of caffeine.  The screaming pain in my shoulder.  The ringing in my ears. 

Waking up wasn’t the reprieve I was hoping it would be.  A ghost from my past wants to be my friend on facebook.  All the work I’ve done, all the healing, the long fight to forgive myself and forget her – all burned to ash by a little icon on a monitor.  Why?  Why would she want to know me now?  What could I say to her?  What could she say to me?

And the stupidest part of all is that I said yes. 

Thirsty

“Why can’t you guys have a drink?”  They ask me.

There are lots of reasons.  When’s the last time you were allowed to drink on the job?  What makes you think mine is any different?  People make mistakes.  Drunken people make many, many more mistakes.  For me, it’s the same reason I don’t play games on the job.  I need to be paying attention to work.  There are people who claim that I need to learn to multi-task.  I know how to multi-task, but each division of my attention makes me worse at everything I’m doing.  I can be bad at ten things at once.  I digress.

“I need every edge I can get if things turn ugly,” I tell them.

“Yeah, but you have backup,” one guy points out.  He’s right.  Sort of.

I explain to him the truth.  In the first thirty seconds, I’m on my own.  I’ve never had assistance show faster than that.  The guy I was explaining this to asks if the other bar patrons ever help out.  I tell him that people help out all the time.  They help the other guy.

I’ve had only a handful of instances in which patrons helped me.  In those cases, it was just ratting out someone who had fucked up in a bad way.  Far more often, they have tried to pull me off of someone who’s being reticent about leaving.  I fear the day someone succeeds, because on that day I will be hamstrung by at least one person while another immoderately pissed individual takes his or her shot at me.

Even when they are actually on my side, they tend to cause trouble between me and whoever I’m escorting out.  Getting kicked out is bad enough without being mocked.  More than once, I’ve had to deal with both the drunk AND the shit-heel that is trying to start a fight.

I know that my co-workers will back me up.  I just don’t know how long I need to hold out before help arrives.  If anyone needs to buy me a drink that badly, I happily accept all flavors of Rockstar.