In just under 5 hours, I’m going to work. I took vacation from Job 1 today so that I could work at Job 2. I’m salaried, so I still get paid for Job 1 even though I’m not there, and I can walk away with a boatload of cash from Job 2.
Because it’s St. Pat’s Day. And I work in Dogtown.
By midnight, my shoulders will be cramping, my feet will feel like bloody stumps in a pair of sandpaper shoes, my knuckles will be raw, and the sickly sweet stench of Irish Car Bombs will be in my nose. People, I know you say they taste like chocolate milk, but you are all crazy. They cost $6 (which is a lot to me, but friends outside of St. Louis, sorry for rubbing our dirt cheap cost of living in your faces). They’re a pain in the ass to make when you’re slammed. And cleaning all that curdled mess takes at least 2 passes through the sink, which tears my hands to shit.
Anytime someone hears that I’m a bartender, they say “Well, at least you make money.”
To which my response is “Sometimes.”
I mean, today I will make money. Some other days, I make money. But some days it’s just me and the televisions. If TBS didn’t run The Office for 3 straight hours on Tuesday nights, I don’t know what I’d do.
When I do make money, it’s not like it’s easy. People act like bartenders are the rock stars of the service industry. All I have to do is crack beers, be charming, and rake in the cash. Um, okay. Your planet sounds nice. Can you buy me a plane ticket there? I can’t afford it right now. My money comes from 8 hours of hustling on my feet. I’m constantly moving, constantly calculating, lugging buckets of ice, cases of beer, watching out for drunken brawls and your odd vomiter. It’s fun, certainly better than waiting tables, but it’s hard. Even though I only do it twice a week, bartending is absolutely a second job.
Especially on St. Pat’s Day. I go in at 4, so everyone will be shithammered by the time I get there. Within the first 30 minutes of my shift, I predict at least 10 people leaning over the bar and slurring, “Hey, are you Irish?”
Fucking hell. I used to love being popular on St. Pat’s. Red hair, green shirt, stupefying tolerance for alcohol beverages. Free shots and no bar to tend, WOOOOOOO! But when you bartend in the city’s Irish neighborhood on the Irish-est day of the year, everyone wants to be your fucking cousin. Yes, if you could not already tell by my hair and my eyes and my name and the tubercular shade of my skin, I am Irish. Partially. But I am also other kinds of Caucasian, too, and I don’t feel any particular connection to you because our families are drunk Catholics who sing at funerals. That Irish Car Bomb is 6 bucks, and don’t forget to tip.
As much as these northern European cultural stereotypes can annoy me (you know, because it’s so hard to be white in America), I will concede that Susie Bright-by-way-of-Bill Monahan is onto something, though.
Being Irish, particularly being Irish Catholic (as if there’s any other option), means you will forever carry a mental cross. The long beam is guilt. The short beam is dread. Something is always going to go wrong. You will always be poor. Someone will always drink too much. That sense of duty you’ll always feel to your family – the ones who will never let you forget how hard it was to come over here, because they love telling stories and want you to know that they will haunt your ass if you lose the bible with the family tree in it – cannot ever go away. Which I’ve heard is a lot like being Jewish, so it’s good that I’m working with Liza tonight. I may be Irish, but she’s the Jew with a green streak in her hair.
TEAM GUILT AND DREAD, FUCK YEAH!