The success of any given night behind the bar is not measured in the amount of sales that I ring or the thickness of bills I take home. I gauge any good night at the club on the level of stickiness of my forearms.
From flipping the Boston shakers into the air, resting my arms on the bar mats trying to hear what the customers are ordering or hauling countless Tall Jim garbage cans out to the dumpster, the tackiness of my arms as I sit in front of my computer at the end of the night is the measuring stick to a good evening.
As of now, my arms are Gorilla Glued to my desk.
I have a small office in the basement of our house that used to be a storage closet. We would throw any assortment of household goods into this room ranging from luggage, banker’s boxes and personal mementos into this room. I cleared it out a couple of years ago and it has transformed into my personal retreat from any night slinging drinks for guests.
It’s the home of the SLC PubCast, Raskin’s Rhetoric and every late night movie watch on Netflix for a couple of years. I have the walls lined with posters and pictures of friends and scores of books stacked precariously in every nook. I spend my after-hours from the club drinking beer watching old television shows, ALT-TABing from various websites and the dialed entertainment for the evening.
I have a photo of my mother with my nephew, Oliver, and a framed portrait of my father when he was stationed at Walter Reed. My desk is an old tanker desk with a pulled up Formica top. It smells stale, it’s filled with clutter and it is the only piece of real estate in the valley that I really call my own.
In a word: it’s my retreat.
Every week is a bear and hiding in the basement at my computer is a cathartic rejuvenation that preps me for my time off. Flipping between whatever crummy movie I pick, silly Pandora station and my word processor as I hammer out notes from the evening are the cap to any shift. I look forward to the emptiness of time as I click away at the computer writing stories with no audience in mind with only the desire to pass time by filling pages.
At best, I am a hack at writing. Like the tone-deaf musician that saws away at the violin, I sit in my nook, writing as fast as possible and try to tell the funniest stories from my evening. Are they true? Most of them. The biggest discrepancy of what I write is not the actuality of the event which occur but rather the time line. I sometimes rearrange the order of the evening (or the week) to make for a better narrative. If something funny happens on Wednesday that ties into Saturday then I am probably going to use a little bit of artistic license.
With that said, my arms are stuck to my desk. I worked with Rebecca and we were slammed the entire evening. Between slinging drinks out for the cocktail waitresses and taking care of the guests in front of the bar, we barely had a moment to breathe through the evening. The low-grade grind of pouring without stop for four hours becomes less of a profession but more of a duty.
I don’t say this enough but there is not another bartender in the valley that I would rather take on the hordes of thirsty beasts than Rebecca Bradford. Between her knowledge, her ability to dig in her heels gumption and infallible demeanor, she is at her best when the bar seems to falling apart in front of us. There is nothing better than working with a person when the experience feels more like flamenco dancing than pouring drinks.
We rarely hang out socially but it feels like we do. We have developed a nice tempo that makes the shift work for us. There hasn’t been a weekend that didn’t end with us saying, “We hate this bar,” while cleaning up at 1:30 in the morning and smiling about how we had complete control of the evening. I never went to work at Keys On Main to meet friends but there is something special about working with a person that feels like an old pal.
There is nothing better than finishing the week off down at my desk. I flip through Netflix movies, read San Diego Padre blogs and write snarky remarks on people’s Facebook pages. I figure I have a couple of hours to decompress before I have to hit the rack before Sunday’s adventures. Erin and I only get one full day off with each other and I am very conscious not to ruin it by sleeping till four in the afternoon.
Working five days a week for the vast majority of people in this country in the norm. Not for me. I work four days and I have the opportunity to make good coin from pouring drinks. I get three days off to pursue whatever projects that I want but still, I am exhausted after my four day run. Bartending is tough. I know no one will shed a tear thinking of the choir of talking to a wide-breath of people and getting to make alcoholic drinks, but at the end of the day, it is a taxing job that makes me a zombie by Saturday night.
I am usually so brain dead when I get home on Saturday that the only way I can recant the evening is to notice how sticky my arms are. I don’t remember much about tonight but my arms feel covered in maple syrup.
I think I had a pretty good week.