This time a year ago was hectic.
Radiation had just ended and I was getting ready to finally be able to poop firmly like a normal middle aged man.
I was in the middle of a shift at the piano bar. Things were busy but there seemed to be an odd feeling among everyone that wasn’t tending the bar. Right in the height of things I get asked by the owner to come outside the front of the bar entrance to talk. As I got outside, there were two marked Madison police cars there. Immediately, I knew I was in for a bad night.
Flashback to a few nights prior and a supremely long story shortened. I had made my way down to the bar around 4am. I was pretty primed up and had been drinking since after my shift at another bar farther away. A fairly hairy situation arose in which I needed to help a friend out with some money and I knew that I was closer to the bar then I was to my house, where within I had a nice little wad of money for emergencies such as this. In any case, a very intoxicated yours truly used, well rather, abused his managerial key holding powers and unlocked the bar, to borrow money from our change stash. Drunk, I knew what I was doing was a stretch of my powers, but I had figured for as much freaking out as I was doing, that I would just leave a note about the $200 I was borrowing and I knew if there was an issue that I’d be contacted, and I rushed back to my friend who was in the sticky situation that required a financial bailout at the wee hours of the night. After getting home from all the stress of that, I easily passed out and thought and waited for a call or text from my boss, pondering whether I should risk getting myself into trouble by just bringing it up.
The weekend went on and I didn’t think anything of it other than having a rubber band with $200 in my pocket along with my other money as I was working a double that day and went from one bar to the piano bar without going home. I eagerly waited to talk to my boss and explain why the change box was short, as I counted it and noticed that it was short from what I had taken, plus more. Instead, the bar got busy and I worked for the first 90 minutes I was there. Once I got called outside, I knew my fate already. The non communication led to a large miscommunication and there I was, in front of the hundred people I was just serving, being cuffed and put into the back of a squad car. I told them I knowingly took it and it wasn’t mine but it was a misunderstanding. I told them I had it separate from the rest of my money and it was all in my pocket. They took all of my money from me, I gather I had to have had approximately $700 total on me from working the day of and night before, plus what I had taken. It was moot at that point. They told me I’d be charged with theft, but that my boss wasn’t pressing charges. The best part is that my actual boss didn’t even contact the police or file the report, he had the manager of the other bars he owned do the paperwork for him. The officer carted me off to the parking garage, gave me the typical blah cop you’re an adult speech that I didn’t need and let me get in my car and go.
I called my girlfriend, who was preparing to go out and see me at the bar and told her what had happened, but didn’t want to ruin her night and told her to go out and have a good time and I basically sat and stewed and tried to put the blame on my idiot boss and the lack of any communication but in my head I knew I had fucked up. The fault was totally mine and, being drunk not being an excuse aside, I had other options I could have acted on instead of spazzing out and going to the bar after hours.
That was the last shift I had at the piano bar, the day after the last radiation treatment I had, and a few weeks later I got a false clear that I was screening clear and then my girlfriend broke up with my drunk dumb ass.
I’d blame this day for setting into motion the bottoming out of my life rollercoaster but after a year of not working downtown and seven months of not drinking, I gave myself my own kick in the ass to get my shit together. I had been miserable there for a good time, the only thing that had kept me there was working shifts with Ky and being around Mike and Mason and my Tuesday night freedom. The work got monotonous, my attitude irreparable, and the customers seemed so dramatic some nights that it wasn’t worth the energy to care, cater to or worry about them. There are times that I miss hearing the same 30 songs on a Saturday night, definitely miss some of my coworkers and the situations and stories we’d make, but ideally, I gave a lot to that place and I got what I wanted out of it and I never took my own advice to not stay in one place too long serving the people.
There was a shame attached to my actions that I didn’t forgive myself for for some time, and the situations I kept putting myself into, especially while drinking until I couldn’t remember my goddamn name or where I would be on a street, eventually caught up to me ten fold last year and I went from a cushy multiple bartending phenom with the love of his life and a supposed cancer conquered body to a severely damaged, depressed, suicidal drunk that didn’t really give any fuck about his life or what his actions did to others. Having had many other low points in this life already, I can’t think of a worse stretch for me. Then I go and get my first DUI.
I take a break and try to compose, and we’ll eventually get there with the stories. I stopped drinking then, trying to assemble my life again, but I didn’t realize at that time I wasn’t doing it for me. The prospect of saving my job, getting my ex back, going back to the easily familiar, was still achievable in my mind. Then, after another few meltdowns, birthday drunkenness, blackout walks home, and finding out that I needed more treatment for a disease that was just not going away, I reached that point in life where people say, “Why? What am I doing this for anymore? Who even cares about me? When do I just stop giving two shits about my life?” That’s when I got my second DUI in less than three months.
But that last paragraph is a testament and pages of stories that need to be put down and read. It’s soon to come.
I’ll leave you with the Billy Joel lyrics I’d always quote to let you know that I was always ready to be somewhere else that night.
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be
He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me”
As the smile ran away from his face
“Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place”