They often call being behind the bar, being behind the plank. And while that can mean simply standing behind a board, it also brings up the not so subtle association with a pirate’s plank. That’s not a random non sequitur, as you will soon see.
It could have been any Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. It was the busiest day of the week and the busiest day in the bar business is always contingent upon what bar, where, that you are talking about.
“You know what your problem is?” said the man, not as a question, but rather as a declaration. He could have been talking to anyone except for one thing. He was pointing at two women sitting two seats over.
Write this one down: Nobody likes being told what their problem is. Not men, not women, not children, not bartenders. Nobody. And people certainly don’t want to be told unsolicited by someone they don’t know in a bar.
It was thirty seconds into my shift and he was a holdover from lunch. There’s a saying about fish and company, that both begin to smell after three days. The same can be said of bar customers. After three hours nobody smells good. It was time for him to go. Ride shares have pushed the envelope back in regard to serving people, and that can be a good thing, and a bad one.
A brief discussion led to a longer discussion with the manager. He settled down after that. But those two women left. Luckily with the relaxing of the mask mandate a general relaxation has ensued, and what’s more relaxing than the local watering hole. Case in point, there were plenty of people to take their place.
“You aren’t carrying Russian vodka?” asked another man declaratively. I explained that despite its name Stolichnaya isn’t Russian. It’s made in Latvia, which is a NATO member. Furthermore, Stolichnaya was partly responsible for the original détente between the Soviet Union and the U.S. (before the former’s collapse in 1991). In 1972 Pepsi-Co and Stolichnaya entered into a barter/exchange agreement where Pepsi could import Stoli vodka in exchange for Pepsi syrup to be sold in the USSR. It was the very first such agreement between companies in the two countries since the lend/lease program in World War II.
I managed two sentences of that before my co-worker tapped me on the shoulder. Two people had walked in the door. Living in a place like Marin County has its advantages. It might not be the most diverse place, but it is pretty accepting of a wide swath of personalities. And the two persons who sat, certainly fit that description. I felt like Dr. Rick in the “We all see it” Progressive insurance commercial. And it wasn’t blue hair.
“Right out of central casting,” said a woman sitting next to them, who obviously didn’t realize that people three feet away can still hear you. Be it me, or them.
But she was right, up to a point. It wasn’t blue hair; it was a full latex bodysuit up to and including a Batman-like cowl. The pink pirate sitting next to him had an anchor tattoo on his giant bicep. Most people who wear skintight clothing don’t do it justice. Which was not the case with these two.
And guess who they sat next to?
If you work in the restaurant business for two weeks, two years or two decades, you will learn that just one thing never goes wrong – many things go wrong – and they often pile up on top of each other. The table whose order got lost will also be the one you spill a drink on. The universe is cruel that way. In the restaurant business we hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
“Your usual?” I asked the man in the cowl.
The declarative man next to him just stared. He wasn’t seeing pink elephants, but rather a pink pirate and a cowled cocktailian.
Ten minutes later the couple out of central casting bought him a drink. Coffee was the only acceptable option. A chicken wing was offered and accepted. When his ride share arrived, he had not only settled down, but seemed rather normal. Which when compared to the two folks next to him seemed like a much broader definition than before.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
-“Never judge a cover by its book,” once wrote author Fran Lebowitz.
-“You don’t have to enhance reality. There is nothing stranger than truth,” once opined photographer Annie Leibovitz.
– Just because you haven’t seen it before, doesn’t mean that I haven’t.
-Being masked can mean more than one thing.