Recently I began exchanging my time and labor for money. Yes, I have a job, my first in seventeen months. (Seventeen months!)
Six weeks ago a friend of mine had a birthday party at the old bar I used to work at. It was three years since I stepped foot in there and I thought little about my six month stint as a bartender. It was just another job, and not a particularly skilled one at that. Towards the end of the night I get a tap on my shoulder. It was my old boss. He asked me if I was looking for work and I said not really but I’d consider something part-time. We kept in touch but nothing happened.
Last Wednesday after a couple drinks at the Reef I took the Metro home and who was in the same train car but my old boss. Serendipity. He asked me again if I was looking for a job and I told him the same answer. He gave me a start date and that was that.
The bar is patroned by a hyper-professional, sharp-looking clientele in their mid-30′s and up who constantly thumb their Blackberries. Hipsters or college students do not know it exists, and I often overhear political discussion with names of specific Congressmen and Senators. The average tip is 20%, even for mediocre service during the happy hour rush. Customers are older and more conservative so there will be no grimy bar stories like you might see from other bartenders, but maybe I will find an elderly lady patron who would like to subsidize my travel and writing in exchange for sexual favors.
It took me only a short time to get back into the groove of making margaritas, dirty martinis (“extra dirty, please”), and whiskey sours. Honestly I’m not very fast at making drinks but when it comes to personality I’m unstoppable. Two nights ago a couple pleaded with me to cut my shift early and go drinking with them. Little do they know that years of picking up girls in bars and clubs have given me an uncanny ability to build rapport with complete strangers. Or maybe I’m just an all-around great guy.
In just a couple weeks the pads on my fingers will be rubbed raw and my hands will be sliced with little cuts, but nothing a little lotion and liquid band-aid can’t fix. Every night I will take the stack of tips I earned and add that to my bum fund. I will not increase my standard of living one bit—if anything I will bust out the bike even more. Every six nights I work will mean another month I don’t have to. I think that’s a fair trade.