Friday, August 30, 2013

Clocking Out

One of the most unsettling aspects of today, in addition to the stormy weather and unbearable late summer humidity, is conjuring up a somewhat convincing answer to the most frequently asked question posed to me all week; 'What's next?' It's Friday, but not just any Friday... Today is my last day behind the bar of my summer job.

I suppose I have mixed feelings about today.  But overall, I am relieved.  It has been a grueling assignment: serving up a few thousand cocktails to some extremely demanding tourists,  a dozen old school regulars and a handful of unhappy happy hour patrons.

Generally speaking, I like almost everyone I encounter in life: strangers both young and old, rich or poor, of every culture and background.  Perhaps it is because I am a writer and I get some sort of bizarre pleasure out of examining the eccentricities of human behavior.  I've always been eager to ask questions of where people are from and what has brought them here.  It is one of the most interesting aspects of my job behind the bar: the people.

That was, until recently... 

About a  month ago, I came to a rather disturbing realization: I didn't like people as much as I used to.  I was like an old shoe, steadily worn down to where very little soul remains... And in that analogy, if I was actually a shoe, I would have enjoyed drop kicking a few hostile patrons right upside their heads.

If I hear one more person complain that the blender is out of order, or that food is not served outside, or demand lime wedges as if it were a heart transplant, I might actually lose it.  There are some things I can help you with, and many more that I simply cannot.  Sorry.  And to that end, is it right to take your frustrations out on me?  I ought to write on the specials chalkboard tonight: "Don't Shoot the Messenger, Thanks."

As I wiped down the bar last night, I shook my head in disgust over the state of my beloved country; Miley Cyrus' ridiculous circus act on the VMA's last week was enough to make any American citizen nauseated.  And the way I am spoken to on a regular basis as a bartender is appalling to say the least.

What has happened to us?

A blender out of order is nowhere near a crisis; the unthinkable acts of warfare and violence in our country and abroad more aptly fit that description.  I think about all the people suffering in Syria, having lost a loved one and who are struggling to survive.  It makes me really sad and all the more impatient when I face the guy who acts as if the broken blender is appalling and outrageous.  I can't help but think; Dude, you are outrageous and a complete waste of space.

What is happening to me????? My own distain is beginning to reflect theirs... and I just don't need to stoop that low.

This is coming from the girl who genuinely used to like people!!!  So you see, that is where the overwhelming sense of relief stems from today; knowing that I will have a break from the bar and in that, a break from forcing a half-smile when faced with some of the most obnoxious people I have ever encountered.

I truly stand by my belief of providing excellent customer service.  I think it is imperative to treat people as if they are your guest and employ hospitality and gratitude toward that aim.  When it is no longer possible to exude these qualities,  then you can be sure it is time to get out of hospitality: if only for a short while.  

And that is where I'm at; knowing full well that I need a break from service.  I'm turning in my keys and clocking out after one last Friday night behind the bar.

To answer that frequently asked question honestly, I would have to produce an equally unsettling response: I don't know what's next just yet.  I guess that is going to have to suffice for now...

With that, I am headed off to work (if the rain subsides) and will clock in, ready to serve with a smile.

I will miss a few of the people I have worked with over the summer.  It was almost like being in the peace corps together: calming the nerves of the after five o' clock crowd.  But I won't miss the repeat offenders who sit on the other side of the bar and think that a good tip somehow justifies ongoing blatant sexual harassment.  Nope, I won't miss that one bit.

Alas, two things to remember tonight: don't forget to smile and don't forget to clock out.


Long Beach Tea

1/4 oz Vodka 
1/4 oz Gin
1/4 oz Rum
1/4 oz Tequila 
1/4 oz Triple Sec
Splash of Sour 
Splash Cranberry

Garnish with a lime wedge

No comments:

Post a Comment