At some point last night, as I tried valiantly to meet the demands of my customers — an act which feels, more and more, like a Sisyphean endeavor — I took a few precious seconds to observe my co-workers. Thankfully, they appeared to be as frantic as I was. It is always nice to know, in the throes of madness, that one is not alone. If even one of them had been, say, leaning up against the coffee station enjoying a snack, it is quite possible that I would have lay down and let that big rock that I was, metaphorically, pushing just roll right over me. Flat Jackie.
I will admit to taking a few precious seconds and flirting with the idea, as I rounded the service bar to replace the third dropped steak knife for one of my clumsier guests, that instead of heading toward where we keep the cutlery, I could take a hard right and walk straight out the front door. It is a lucky thing that my belongings were in the back storeroom and that the temperature outside was a balmy -2°F — a temperature no doubt colder than the proverbial witch’s tit. (Those poor little witchlets!)
Having no desire to become a human popsicle, I remained indoors. Life is full of tough choices. Better, I thought, to be ornery and warm than light-hearted and frozen.
In the midst of attempting to access, from the dark recesses of my brain, recipes for the Bahama Mama, Planter’s Punch, and something called a Jack Honey Tea, I noticed that other thoughts were hovering around the edges of my consciousness. I pushed the most obvious ones away. (Who orders this shit in February? What kind of an idiot drinks this nonsense at any time of the year? What in God’s holy name is a Jack Honey Tea? Who ever heard of such a thing?) Using what felt like the last shred of mental acuity that I had left, I did what any decent bartender in my position does, I made them up. I have a theory, borne of experience, that if it’s the right color, they’ll drink it. They almost always do.
Having, at least to my satisfaction, successfully navigated the drink recipe dilemma, I remained troubled by a much larger question, “What”, I found myself asking (possibly aloud) “the fuck am I doing here?”
Fortunately, my job being what it is, there is very little time to engage in deep, philosophical conversations with oneself (or anyone else). If things were different, if time was not of the essence in my line of work, I fear that I would spend most of my shifts pondering such questions and, as a result, that I would find myself, on an all too frequent basis, awash in a puddle of my own tears.
It is probably a good thing that bartenders cannot expend energy on things as esoteric as philosophy; that we must, instead, use our time to concoct dumb drinks, recite the beers on tap to the latest in a long line of literacy-challenged cretins (the flavors are on the handles, you beer connoisseur, you!), or to muddle mojitos for the groups who want to fool themselves into believing that the mere act of consuming this silliness will magically transport them to South Beach. It will not. Get on a plane.
Such is the life of the lowly restaurant worker. Such is my life.
I fear that one day soon I will be flattened by my own rock. Flat Jackie.