If you aren’t familiar with working in a bar/restaurant during a holiday season, this is going to strike you as strange what I’m about to recount to you, but for me, this is just another holiday spent away from loved ones and near the ones that remind you why you have people you love. I tweeted most of what happened to me in a timeline sense, just so I would remember and recreate it more accurately in a post.
I got to work at 4:50 pm, which is ten minutes early and frankly unheard of for this master of habitual lateness. I gave myself the good old “goddamnit put on a happy face one more time, its Thanksgiving and the people in this bar are most likely more miserable and lonely than you so just fucking smile you dweeb” pep talk before one last heavy sigh and snatched my gas station coffee aggressively out of my cup holder…lid fell off and coffee went everywhere.
Now infuriated after spending the early time I had cleaning up my recklessness, I enter the bar via the back door, trying to sneak into my environment and take a survey of just how much drama I have in store for myself. There’s just enough time for me to put my backpack down and then the obnoxious catcalling from crusty lonely middle aged bar flies sets in.
One old lady wants to gamble immediately so I give her the dice cup, and after she is unsuccessful in trying to win the bar money she goes back to sipping her Busch light out of a plastic cup - except she is drunk and distracted by the man she’s flirting with and proceeds to take a drink of the dice cup and ends up getting a mouthful of dice.
I couldn’t help but laugh and then make it a point for everyone to see the fuck up she just made. Sure, a little insensitive but you’re here, drunk at 5pm on Thanksgiving, making my night complicated - I don’t feel that ashamed.
I irritated a large group of drunks when I refuse to turn on the jukebox just so I can hear Ellie Goulding perform at the halftime of the Bills/Cowboys game. There are boos coming from everyone and I could literally not care any less.
One of my friend/coworkers is at the bar with a couple of his friends. They got turned away from a restaurants Thanksgiving buffet so they came to my bar to dine on exquisite fryer delicacies - the finest chicken strips in the greater Madison area. As I’m catering to them and chatting, laughing, having a generally grand time mocking everyone involved, someone walks in the front door that I have not seen for about a year - he had been a consistent regular with a common problem in Wisconsin - the man has a penchant for binge drinking and driving around the county. I was surprised to see him; I knew he had been locked up for a little bit with a third operating while under the influence in about two years. As he walked in the door I could already see that he was not sober. I had no clue if he had driven to the bar but I immediately said to him, “if I serve you right now, you aren’t driving anywhere.” I turned around and poured him a Jager bomb and got him a beer. When I went to serve other customers, he thought I wasn’t watching but I clearly saw him dump a powder into his shot before he inhaled the whole thing. Now, I was pissed. Drinking and driving when you’re without a license and a habitual drunk driver is one thing entirely but now you’re drugging yourself up in my bar on top of it? FUCK. YOU. He went out to smoke and I was entertaining a rather full bar when I watched him come back in and immediately turn into a dysfunctional pile. His head circled like a mobile above a toddlers crib. His body slid back and forth along the bar and instantly I knew, I needed to get him a cab and out of my responsibility as soon as possible. The next obstacle was trying to get his address from him when his speaking ability was that of a teething two year old. Asking him where he lived came with nothing but guttural moans and grunts. Fuck, I thought. How do I get rid of him.
Wait. He’s been in legal trouble for the last few years.
I know. His address will be on the circuit court system lookup for Wisconsin.
Sure as shit, I search his name and find his address within 30 seconds. I call the cab and set it up and the dispatcher tells me it won’t be more than 15 minutes. Perfect.
The next challenge? Making sure he doesn’t run away or pass out before the cab comes, all while serving impatient fucking assholes that can’t wait an extra fifteen minutes to get fucked up.
He stumbled and mumbled about having to go to the bathroom, at least that’s what I put together when he slid along the pool table and towards the mens bathroom door. Fearing the guy was going to go head first into the urinal cake and mound of chew at the bottom, I stood behind him and acted as a wall as proceeded to douse the wall and urinal in booze and cocaine filled pee (it smelt like it could sustain a rocket engine) and as this is happening, another guy, who had most definitely been taking a shit just by the smell inside the bathroom, walked out of the stall, looked at us, laughed, and walked out the door. Yeah, I don’t know if you caught it, but the man took a shit and didn’t wash his hands before joining the general public back in a social setting.
What the fuck is wrong with people.
After getting his dick back into his pants, I walked out and saw the van cab was waiting outside. Five more minutes of muscling this drunk, coked out fool into the back of the van, I was able to come back inside and take a breath.
“Hey, where the fuck have you been? I’m thirsty!”
Things were finally starting to slow down, small groups of friends and families had come, drank a few drinks, ranted about their gatherings and dinners, and went back to their personal hells. I was wiping down the bar and slowly counting the minutes away to close when another one of my regulars walked in.
“Can I just get a beer or two real quick? I won’t be long. I just want to vent about the afternoon I just had,” he said with a grimace.
Sure, I said, I was still cleaning and not in too much of a hurry.
“Zac, you wouldn’t believe this. I took my son and wife to our family thanksgiving. It was us, my brother and his new girlfriend, and my mom and dad. My brother is 56 years old. He’s a fuck up with a lot of money. We had never met his girlfriend before but had seen a ton of pictures and heard many stories. It’s tradition to go have a drink at the local bar while we wait for the turkey to be done so we went. The bartender never ID’s my kid cause he knows he’s with us and we’ll just give him a beer if he wants it. When it came to my brother and his girlfriend though, the bartender looked at her and made this face. The bartender was like, ‘yeah I don’t think you’re close to 21, lemme see your ID.’ Zac. Her face. She turned bright red. ‘I’m only 19.’ she said. You should have seen my mom and dad, my wife and kid, and the bartenders faces. their mouths dropped. My 56 year old brother is dating a 19 year old. Our dinner was one in silence. Thank you for letting me have a beer. I still don’t know how I am going to explain to my son how this is but isn’t okay. I…just…yeah. Beer me.”
And that everyone, is a typical holiday when I work at a bar. Hopefully you made memories as well.