Evolution of a Pub Worker


In an attempt to thwart the advances of Monday, we decide to head to my local pub Sunday evening. Though philosophical concepts often remain outside my grasp, the duality of man becomes brutally clear to me while at a bar on a Sunday night.

The dueling men are those who sit at home, read, cook, visualize my morning with depressing detail and his very present compadre, who lives for the moment and will deal with tomorrow when it arrives and not a moment sooner.

The waitress is new. She’s bouncy and borders on bubbly. She is on top of her tables with a smile, she’s friendly and eager. When I don’t order a second Becherovka she gives me a look and says, “And why not? They’re good for your health!”

Burke and I look at each other. We exchange a well, how long will this last? look.

When the waiters and waitresses start at the local, they are often like this one. Ready to serve, eager in a new atmosphere. I have received so many friendly jibes in a waiter’s first two weeks. Pretty soon, however, the long repetitive hours in a bar and its demanding patrons take a toll and the eagerness disappears, the jibes are replaced by muttered queries and long faces.

Having worked in a pub for years, I totally understand. Anyone who thinks pub work is easy or relaxing has never done it. You are essentially at the beck and call of people who are drinking. Just imagine what you’re like when you’re drinking and then deal with yourself and then add forty other drinkers to the mix. How do you now feel? Even the most harmless, pleasant drinker can become slightly more needy, more loquacious, more time-consuming for a waiter with ten other tables of drinkers. And it’s not your fault, you are there, after all, to drink and enjoy yourself, which is another aspect of why waiting tables at a pub can be a drain. Waiters work at a time when others are relaxing and exactly where they are relax. So everyone in their workplace is letting off the stress attained at their workplace.

The evolution of the pub worker finds them leave behind bright-eyed and bushy-tailed relatively quickly. Their eyes get tired and long. Their greetings become neolithic grunts. They start smoking. They snap at customers and complaining about them to their fellow coworkers behind the bar. I only hope it’s never about us. They often snap. One woman walked into the dark night (apron and everything) and I never saw her again. One waiter continued to walk around the pub, but flatly refused to serve people. His coworkers were alerted (and a bit peeved) when customers had to walk up to the bar to get their beers. I ran away to Europe.

When I first starting bartending, I thought I had won the lottery. Work three nights a week at a place with booze and bring home a good amount of money. I had it figured out! But after a while I began to hate the fact that my patrons (and friends) were finishing work when I was starting work. Even though I started work at 5 or 6 at night, I obsessed about it all day. I wouldn’t go out and enjoy myself, I wouldn’t go to lunch, go to a baseball game, watch a movie. Soon I came to dread the very thought of walking through the doors.

Seems I’ve always been dealing with my duality about being in the present moment vs. worrying about future obligations. Maybe I should get that looked at. Or perhaps when our waitress comes back, I’ll let her talk me into another shot. I’d like to take advantage of her jibes while they’re still coming. And plus, she says they’re healthy.

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