Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Karma Comedian ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     We've got this barfly named Coolidge. He's a bearded white guy, a little overweight, average height, about 50 years old. He's a decent tipper and pretty low-maintenance. He's far from being my favorite client but we're OK and I've never had a problem out of him. Coolidge works for a trucking company and travels a lot for them. I don't know what his job is there; if he's a driver, a mechanic, a sales guy or what. We usually just see Coolidge at night but one day early this month he joined us during the lunch shift.
     I was waiting tables that day. I walked past the bar a couple times and nodded hello to Coolidge as he sucked down some draft Coors Lights. I was cut and nearly done when bartender Veranda B asked if I'd take over the bar, allowing her to go home and see about her kids, or something. I reluctantly agreed. Veranda got Coolidge another brewski and he closed out. She turned in her bar drawer. I hadn't done a check-out so I was just going to ring anything on my server number.
     The bar didn't do any business that hour or so I had it. Coolidge drank the final beer he'd gotten from Veranda but he didn't get anything from me. He seemed to be preoccupied with some paper or something he was looking at. I tried unsuccessfully to find a Grapefruit League game on the TV. Coolidge finished his beverage and asked if he owed anything. I assured him that he didn't and he bailed.
     I picked up the empty beer vessel and wiped underneath it. I noticed Coolidge had left some out-of-state lottery tickets he'd been scratching. No surprise, he does that a lot. I tossed two of the tickets but I studied the third. It was a $20 ticket and I haven't seen too many of those, although I buy scratch-offs when I'm in a state that sells them. I noticed a number had matched on that ticket. Coolidge had overlooked a $50 prize!
     Coolidge had already left the building and driven off in his white '02 Ford F150 with the W sticker still on the back window. I stuck the ticket in my server book, finished up and went home. I figured I'd see Coolidge again soon and I'd give him back the ticket in person. It can't hurt to have a bar regular feel that he owes you a favor. Besides, if I'd of told GM Brenda B about it, she probably have laughed and insinuated I was a dumbass for saying anything.
     A few nights later I was waiting tables again and Coolidge showed up at the bar. I walked over there. "Remember you were in here the other day?" I asked, "I looked at those tickets you left on the bar and ya missed a winner." I pulled my server book out of my apron and gave Coolidge the ticket that had been stashed there. He thanked me profusely and offered to give me some money or to buy me a drink or some food or something. I declined with, "That's OK. Just tip me real good the next time I wait on ya!" said jokingly but really, actually meant.
     I'm sure I hadn't been messed with in some weird way. Coolidge had just misread his ticket. What I'm less sure about is what he would have done had our situations been reversed. Oh well.
     I could have kept the ticket. I thought about it. There's a way to mail winners to lottery HQ and they'll send you a check. My friend Jakey G goes up there to visit relatives sometimes, he'd have cashed it for me. I could have driven up there myself, maybe waited 'til April and checked out a baseball game (tommorow's opening day!) on the radio and between innings listened to that rockin' new Decemberists CD I got for my birthday. That's not such a bad evening. Gas would have run less than 20 bucks. Or I could have anonymously mailed it to a children's charity up there.
     This little adventure made me think about Karma. It seems like everyone believes in it, at least a little. But really, does it exist? Would it have been "wrong" to keep the ticket? Was something "bad" going to happen to me if I had? Who, if anybody, is the arbiter of Karma? I think a good argument could be made that Karma isn't real, it's just a little fairy story that's caught on 'cause people like it. I wonder. And I wonder what I would of done had that ticket been worth a lot more than 50 bucks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Call-Ahead Eating ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

      So I'm bartending one day and this guy calls and wants to order lunch for himself and his daughter. I'm thinking he wants his chow to go but nuh-unh; he wants me to ring up his dine-in order immediately so that it's ready when they arrive. I'd never heard of any shit like that before and I didn't like the sound of it. Lots of scenarios went through my mind, none of them good. The only one I could think of that might not blow worse than the Chicago Cubs was to say we'd accommodate them if they'd eat at my bar. He reluctantly agreed. Everything went OK. I got so I'd discretely offer this service to a few of my regulars if they were cool people.
     Then I changed jobs. I bartend occasionally at my current gig but not too often 'cause the bar there sucks and I hate it. For years, our day bartender was usually Alicia P. Whenever someone wanted to order ahead, it was cool with her. If I remember correctly, I talked her through the procedure the first time she dealt with it. Then Alicia moved back to Tennessee. Now we kind of shuffle the bar schedule a lot. If someone wants to order ahead (I've never seen this issue surface at dinner, just lunch), it's OK; the bartender, sometimes me, handles it.
     Then today the bartender was the lovely Veranda B. I answered the phone call of some annoying, fucktarded client named Stacy who wanted to have some grub for herself and a dining companion cooking while they headed our way.  Stacy'd ordered ahead before and knew the drill. I put her on hold and told Veranda she had a phone call and its nature. Veranda wouldn't take the fucking call!
     If I'm bartending and someone wants to order ahead lunch, I'll take care of them but not if I'm waiting tables; I see the potential for too much confusion and bullshit. Plus I was already cut and nearly done. I found Quinzell, a lunch closer, and told him about the dilemma. He's a greedy bastard and agreed to take care of Stacy. I told Beth, our very competent hosting professional, that 'Zell would have a call deuce roll in shortly. Then I headed home. I guess everything went OK.
     Now, if the sign outside said Joe's Rib Crib™, we'd probably let people order ahead for lunch, maybe even dinner. Who knows? It might be a somewhat signifigant revenue genarator in a competitive racket. We'd have a policy and guidelines on how to deal. If a client didn't want to do things my way they could try their luck elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Absorbent Strings ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     It was Margarita Monday, our busiest night of the week. I guess Smurf, our badass barback, had requested off because they had me taking his place that evening. I'd wash glasses, run bustubs back to dish, change out beer kegs, shit like that. They also had me helping the cocktail servers in the bar area. The bar was where it was at nighttimes but we had a fairly busy, separated, dining room. Like most nights, the buser in there was a young man named JimBop.
     CRASH! Colleen, the usually sure-footed cocktail waitress, had dropped a trayful of drinks and appetizers. "Joe? Can ya help me take care of this? Thanks, sweetie!" she told me, not really meaning the "help me" part of her request. I cleaned as best I could with a dustpan, a broom and my hands. Then I got the mop and finished the chore.
     A couple hours later, most of the bar clients began noisily fixating on Table 113. You would have thought it was a sudden-death cage match between musical entertainer Colin Meloy and a reanimated L. Ron Hubbard but no; just a couple of fat guys arm-wrestling. BAM! One of the combatants suddenly emerged victorious but in so doing managed to knock over a shitload of brewski. I went and got the mop.
     On my way out the kitchen, I saw JimBop. "How's it goin', dude?" I asked him.
     "Pretty good," he replied, "I'm not as busy down here as y'all are. You doin' OK up there?"
     "Yea, not bad. But dude. This is, like, the third time tonight I've had to mop some shit up," I exaggerated, "next time's your turn." JimBop agreed to wield the O-Cedar® product if it was needed again and we went back to work.
     At last it was getting near closing time and had slowed down considerably. A middle-aged redhead in a white coat was sitting at the bar. She had a margarita and some chips and salsa. I noticed that she wasn't using the chips very much but was mostly scooping up and eating her picante with a fork. Maybe it's a crucial tenet of Scientology or just some weird diet ordeal. Who knows? Oh well, not my business or my problem.
     And then she threw up. She managed to step away from the bar and hurl onto the floor. Poor lady, she wasn't drunk—she'd only had part of one 'rita—and she didn't puke on purpose. She was pretty embarrassed, hurriedly paid and left. I knew what was expected and who it was expected of. "I'll go get the mop," I lied.
     Of course I didn't go looking for the absorbent strings. I went looking for JimBop. I found him in the employee smoke hole, standing there with Colleen, about to spark up a Newport 100. "Dude," I told him, there's some kind of spill up there in the bar and it is your turn..."
     "I got it, no prob," said JimBop, postponing his nicotine fix, "where's the mop?" I told him where it was and took my own trip to Marlboro Country. I told Colleen about the contents of the bar spill JimBop was attending to. We laughed and smoked our cigarettes until JimBop returned.
     "What was up with that?" I asked him innocently.
     "Aw, it wasn't nothin'," JimBop told us, "Barney (the bartender) said there was some throw-up but really somebody'd just spilled some sour mix and some salsa."