Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again ?
The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself
Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
But Honey Pie, you're not safe here
So you run down
To the safety of the town
But there's Panic on the streets of Carlisle
Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
I wonder to myself...
I was in Myrtle last week, my first day, and basking in the sunshine of a 75 degree day, a cold Captain and Coke in my hand when I noticed my cell phone beeping.
I had a voice mail.
I pick it up and it's my boss (from the bar), Mike, who left me a message saying we needed to sit down and talk before Saturday.
My mind started to race. Why did we need to sit down and talk?
Things at the bar were going....ok. Mikie's is a different bar than Dipper's. Back in the "Days of Dipper's", the bartenders and manager ran the bar. It was great. A very relaxed atmosphere, where bartending was just about having fun and making money. Most of our regulars were also our friends outside the bar.
Our only stress was when Dipper showed up, because he just didn't understand how a bar should be run. He wanted desperately the bar to be a restaurant, with really good food. I would look around our dilapidated bar and tell him he should focus on good "bar food" that fits the bar. Make a killer burger, great wings, tasty fries and that's what 90% of the people who came here wanted.
He would come up with goofy ideas to drum up business. I remember one was that he wanted to hire a belly dancer or a Hawaiian dancer to teach people, in the bar, how to dance. Everyone shot that down, but he kept bringing it up all the time. Also he knew of an act, like a duet couple who would work the crowd, like Sonny and Cher or Captain and Tennille. Dude, i'm not kidding, this was the shit he was saying we should try. I was trying to convince him to just spend like a few thousand sprucing up the place, move away from being such a dive bar and something a bit more contemporary. He would listen to some of our suggestions, but he always had favorites in the bar and I wasn't one of them. Dipper basically tolerated me because the other bartenders were my friends.
With Mikie's it was a fresh start, new owners who actually listened to me and others. The new owners were much more on top of running the bar, unlike Dipper who let the staff basically run the place except for his twice a month visits. It was a blessing and a curse to have this change.
It was a blessing because finally the bar was getting the attention it needed. It was renovated, a new menu was created, new drinks and wines added. They made some changes that I would have done if I owned the bar, too. But they also did some things that I don't agree with. One of them is the dartboard. I know it is a simple thing, but I would have figured out a way to keep the dartboard. Believe it or not, many people in Hoboken love darts. There's a dart league with about 8 people per team, 18 teams (each representing a bar, some bars have 2 teams) and 3 divisions (A, B, C) who play every Tuesday night for 3 hours. Aside from the league, lots of people enjoy passing their night with a game of darts.
Unfortunately the new owners were adamantly against a dart board. I pleaded with them to change their mind. Even if we could try something where the dart board is removed during the day and put up once dinner service was closed. The owners were just against it. The image they wanted with the bar wasn't that dive bar of Dipper's, but something more upscale. It is their bar, and their investment - they have to do what they think is right.
Part of protecting that investment was also being much more strict with the rules than Dipper. When St. Patty's Day showed up, and the police and government were cracking down, the owners had an emergency meeting. At that meeting they were very serious about us not getting into any trouble and reiterated the rules to us about thinks like buybacks, drinking after our shift (can't have a beer in the bar after closing) and keeping the occupancy at a proper level.
Suffice to say, St. Patty's Day sucked this year. In years past, it was a blast to work. We would have huge crowds, make a ton of money, and even throw down a shot or twelve with the customers. No one cared. You would make a decent clip of money working that day in our little pub. I'm sure if you talked to a bartender at Black Bear or The Madison or Nine - they would make that kind of money every normal weekend. But for our little dinky bar, it made us do cartwheels. This year we made only a fraction of what we made before, due to our strict occupancy rules.
With the new rules, and my perception that the owners were stressed - I was stressed. Over the months working started to become less fun and more work. It used to be that working the weekend wasn't a job, it was me hanging out with friends that i'd serve alcohol to and make some extra lunch money. Now it was like something I started to dread. It started to show.
I called Mike back and left him a voice mail saying I was in Myrtle and wouldn't be working St. Patty's Day. I told him i'd call back when I returned. I didn't know what I did wrong. I immediately assumed that I was going to get fired, but I wasn't sure why. Did I do something wrong? Then I thought about last Saturday night.
It was a busy night. One of the bartenders called out sick. The floor manager jumped behind the bar to work with me, and I was stuck working the service bar. The bar is divided into two sections, one side is the "service bar", that bartender needs to serve the bar and the wait staff. The other side is more concerned about the bar as a whole and will help the service bar if they get overwhelmed. Working service bar is more taxing, and when I was in a rythym at the bar, I enjoyed working. When I get behind and harried, I start to stress a bit and get cranky.
It was one of those kind of nights. I was getting behind. I didn't have a barback. I would run out of a liquor, run downstairs to get it, and find two more orders on top of the two I was working on. Now I have 4 orders that I need to get to, with customers waiting to order food and wait staff standing at the end of the bar staring at me to make their order. You want to help everyone, but I only have 2 arms and 2 legs - I can only move so fast.
The night was non-stop until 12:30am. About that time Mike walked in and sat down, like he normally does, and had a beer with some of the regulars. He took a look at me and said, "Are you having fun?"
I wasn't. It must have shown. I was miserable. Anyone who knows me knows that I like working at a busy bar. I love it when its busy and i'm making money. But the problem working service is that i'm serving the wait staff, not customers. I'm making a percentage of the wait staff's tips, but the people at the bar tip better than that. I had about 6 people who started to drink at the bar and then transferred their drinks to the table so they could sit and eat. Of course I want them at the bar, that's a lot more money for the bartenders.
I told him I wasn't having fun. I was honest. That's one of my major faults or one of my best features, depending on the kind of person you are. Lots of people love me because i'm brutally honest. I will speak my mind, present my opinion and lay it out there. Unfortunately there are just as many people who hate me because they think i'm arrogant, haughty or opinionated. I absolutely would love to be someone who could temper their thoughts.
Remember that scene in "Liar Liar" with Jim Carey? He's in the boardroom and he can't lie...
Miranda: Well, what do you think of him?
Fletcher: He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless steaming pile of cow dung, figuratively speaking.
[a moment passes and Mr. Allen starts laughing. The other board members follow his lead and start laughing also]
Mr. Allen: That's the funniest damn thing I've ever heard. You're a real card, Reede. I love a good roast. Do Simmons.
Fletcher: Simmons is old. He should've been out of the game years ago but he can't stay home because he hates his wife. You've met her at the Christmas parties, she's the one that gets plastered and calls him a retard, and you, Tom; you're the biggest brownnose I've ever seen. You've got your head so far up Mr. Allen's ass, I can't tell where you end and he begins.
Mr. Allen: [roaring with laughter] Priceless!
[Fletcher continues with every member]
Fletcher: You have bad breath caused by gingivitis. You couldn't get a porn star off. Your hairpiece looks like something that was killed crossing the highway. I don't know whether to comb it or scrape it off with a shovel and bury it in lime. Loser! Idiot! Wimp! Degenerate! *Slut*!
Mr. Allen: I like your style, Reede! That's just what this stuffy company needs - a little irreverence!
Fletcher: Good! I'll see you later, dick-head!
I can't say that i'm THAT bad, but i'm close. If someone asks my opinion, I have "Good Sean" on one shoulder and "Bad Sean" on the other ready to put the figure four leg lock on Good Sean, along with the Camel Clutch for good measure.
Good Sean actually won out and I tempered everything I wanted to say. Bad Sean wanted to have a Steel Cage match with Good Sean at a later date.
But I still let Mike know that I wasn't happy and we should sit down and talk.
But my mind glossed over that event and immediately started to panic. I thought about other things in recent weeks that I did wrong at the bar. I'm not going to go into details here, but most of them were just minor arguements with the management. But then I started to think maybe those arguements weren't so minor. Maybe I was done.
This left a bit of a cloud over my Myrtle trip. I didn't find out until after I got back that Mike simply wanted to talk to me, sensed that I wasn't happy. Wanted to hear what was wrong, and made sure my head was still in the game. He doesn't want to have unhappy employees, especially if that unhappiness affects his business and the harmony of the bar. We spoke for a good 45 minutes, I told him about what I thought about the bar and what I thought would bring in more business - even trying to convince him to give the dartboard a try and being a bit more flexible on buybacks. Some points he agreed with. Some he shot down (like the dartboard).
I found out that my partner on Saturday nights, Francia, has quit. That was disheartening, since she was a very pretty girl, a good worker and fun to work with. He told me that the bar is hiring female bartenders. I just hope they get me someone who is fun to work with.
With the stress over the condo, the bar, my PSE&G bill (they recently screwed up my billing and somehow my bill is showing an added $2,550 more than it is supposed to, argh!). It is simply annoying. Right now having the bartending job is a bit more important to me than in years past, because I can sort of use the extra money until everything stabilizes. I made a spreadsheet the other day with all my expenses. Cable. Phone. Internet. Insurance. PSE&G. I never did that before. I added my mortgage, maintenence, taxes to that. Looked at how much less I had per month to spend.
The meeting went well with Mike. I still have a job. Only time will tell if I feel better or worse about it. Either way, I need it more now than ever.