Saturday, May 21, 2011

All the News That's Filth to Print ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I worked a double yesterday. I had a little time between shifts but not enough for a nap. So I relaxed on the couch and read the local newspaper 'til it was time to go back.
     According to one story I read, the high price of gasoline is hurting a lot of Americans but the worst-earning 20% are really getting smacked around. They have to pay more to get to work plus groceries, clothes and like that are starting to go up. And this wasn't in the article I read but I expect rents (as opposed to mortgages) to head higher soon too. Of course, there's some good news, at least if you're a Republican: the top 20% of dollar-harvesters are doing real well; for them it's like the recession never happened.
     Then I read about how the costs of a college education keep rising but, at least for now, the financial benefits are deteriorating. A lot of recent grads can't find work in their chosen field. Some have even resorted to—working in restaurants! Oh, those poor, suffering bastards, right?!
     Then I read something by conservative columnist Thomas Sowell. He seems to think that raising taxes on the big ballers would cause overall tax revenues to drop because financially well-off folks would participate in tax-avoidance schemes and they'd get involved in less economic activity. Of course, Dr. Sowell gets paid a lot of money for seeming to think that.
     Then I saw where a United States senator from Oklahoma (the Thunder should kiss my ass!) threw a petulant little bitch-fit and bailed on five other senators who claimed to be trying to figure out a way to alleviate America's budget deficit. Perhaps somebody had the effrontery to suggest that raising taxes by a couple of per cent on people bringing in superfat cheese might be an idea at least worth discussing.
     Lastly, I looked at the sports section and the funnies and Dear Abby. Then I headed back to work, congratulating myself for managing to have a shitty restaurant job without a college degree

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On Account of the Weather ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Where was I? Oh yeah. Bad weather knocked out the electricity at my job. The owner decided we weren't going to try and open. Happy about the unexpected day off, I fixed myself a fat-ass cocktail and chugged it. Then the owner called and told me to go to our other location and fill in for their bartender, who was unable to make it in 'cause of the bad weather.
     I couldn't really decline. I had a car. The other location wasn't really all that far away. Most of the major streets were navigable. I was scheduled to work that day. But damn I didn't want to go! But I went, of course. Even though I'd just chugged a stout Jack and Diet on an empty stomach.
     I've been a pretty major consumer of alcohol over the years. But, although I've gone to work with some massive hangovers, I've got a personal rule about never consuming intoxicating substances before or during a restaurant shift. I probably shouldn't of had that drink, but my conscience is clear; when I knocked it out, I honestly thought I wasn't going to have to work the rest of the day.
     It wasn't like I was wasted or anything. I'd consume some gum and mints and nobody'd be able to tell I'd had a drink. I usually have some Certs or Trident with me and in those days I smoked a lot of Marlboro Reds, so the bourbon breath wasn't going to be an issue. But the downtown store was kind of the flagship of the organization. If I was going to work a shift there, I wanted to be at my best.
     Oh well. I got there and they'd already been open for at least half an hour. There was some big ordeal about getting me clocked in. I didn't care about it but you couldn't ring anything in if you weren't clocked in. I got my drawer counted and everything set up as well as I could and I was ready to go.
     Everything at that store was different from my store. The food was the same, but that was it. The bar was different. The cash register was different. The alcohol selection, especially the beer, was different. The ways things were done were different. The coworkers were different. The whole—what's a good word here?—ambience was different. Imagine what it would be like to start a new restaurant gig and be put on the floor solo on your first day, without any instruction or training whatsoever except that you knew the food. It was like that.
     It started out slow, which was good for me; I had a little time to get acclimated to things. But it got progressively busier. A lot of establishments were closed because they were without powers. A few of the barflies from my store made their way to this store. Which turned out good for me; they'd talk about what a good job I was doing under difficult circumstances and word got around that I was just filling in and that seemed to buy me some patience from the clients. Things could have run smoother, but overall I guess they went pretty well.
     Right after I got started, a goateed young man with long hair came to the bar and ordered a bloody mary to go. I politely told him we didn't do that. "Oh yeah you do!" he informed me, before storming off to converse with the manager. They talked pretty animatedly, thought out of my earshot, for a good couple of minutes and then dude left.
     Later that day another bearded white guy with long hair rolled into the bar. He ordered a snack and something to drink. He was pretty cool and it turned out that he and the bloody mary douchetard from that morning were bandmates, recording at a nearby music studio. I'd seen them a couple of years earlier at a club, opening for Bonham, a sort-of-metally band led by drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
     I figured out what was up. These guys recorded their mediocre tunes nearby and came and got mixed drinks to go all the time. The manager was obviously down, she had to be. The Nikki Sixx wannabe just thought he could get a cocktail going to the trailer no matter who was bartending. Some people are incapable of being cool.
     Anyway, the night bartender, probably on account of the weather, was hella late, so I got to work through happy hour by myself. I busted ass and harvested mad cash. I don't think I got a cigarette the whole time I was there, so that first couple of 'Boros I had after work were really good. And there was a liquor store open on the way home.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Damaged Cars and Buildings ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     There was a big rainstorm in my old hometown one winter's day about 15 years ago. It wasn't all that cold at first but the temperature kept dropping. By the time I left work about 11:30 that evening, the streets were covered with ice. Everything outdoors was covered with ice for a hundred miles.
     I was so concerned with navigating the slickened thoroughfares that I neglected to get drunk after work and I made it home safely. And I made it to work safely the next morning too. By the time I got on the road a lot of your major streets had been salted and driven on sufficiently to make them pretty easy for me to get around on. The day was overcast and cold but at least the precipitation had stopped. I bartended that day and waited tables that night. Business was slow that evening and since I was a double, I was out of there before nine o'clock. The streets were still as slick as a buttered insurance agent so I went straight home for the second night in a row. But I noticed that it had gotten warmer.
     I relaxed at home. I cracked open a quart of Budweiser. I put on a good CD. If I remember correctly, it was something by Led Zeppelin, featuring the late John Henry "Bonzo" Bonham on drums. Over the din of the stereo, I could hear branches snap outside. It had something to do with things warming up quickly, affecting the ice-encrusted trees. I noticed it, but didn't think too much about it.
     I awoke the next morning to a dearth of electricity in my crib. Fortunately, that place had gas heat, so I wasn't cold. I wracked my brain, trying to remember when I'd gotten a cut-off notice. I got ready for work, which took a little longer back then since I still had hair that I had to make look acceptable. I left the shed and got in the car.
     As I drove down my little street, I noticed that no one had electricity as near as I could tell and that lots of tree branches were down. Some of the branches were real big and had damaged cars and buildings. I found out later that because a lot of branches had fallen onto power lines, most of the city was without electricity.
     Including my work. Not everybody showed up, but those of us who did sat there in the dark. The manager told us to just hang out while he awaited instructions from the owner. We were supposed to open at 11:00. The owner called and said that if there were no powers by 11:30 he'd give up on the day and let us go home. We sat around, drank Cokes and smoked cigarettes. At straight up 11:30, the owner called. I answered the phone. He instructed me to send everyone on. And so I did.
     Not a lot of setting up had been done so it wasn't long before we were ready to bail. I fixed myself a stout Jack and Coke, which I intended to ring up on happy hour the next night I worked, and chugged it down. I was about to walk out the door when the phone rang again. Again I answered. It was the owner. "Joe," he said, "Gorman can't make it downtown today, 'cause the weather's got him messed up down there." Gorman was a bartender at our other location and he lived way out in the country. "Being as how they've got powers and y'all aren't going to be open, I need you to go down there and fill in for him today."
     Awww fuck!

     There's been a lot of devastion in America recently, mostly in the area roughly described as "the South." While you're on the computer anyway, why not check out and see if there's anything you can do to help if you're so motivated and able to. Lots of places have been hit pretty hard, just one of which is Tuscaloosa, AL. The phone number to their United Way down there is (205)-248-5045.