I wonder sometimes if it is an inherently evil business, serving wine. You try to be accommodating to regulars, help them out with tastings, converse with them, take care of them, let them hang out as long as they want to, trying all the while not to over-serve, making sure everyone gets something to eat. What could be evil about it?
But a temple is a temple. There is, of course, a bottom line (which everyone respects.) But, jealousies arise, contrasts of styles. Customers ask servers, where's our wine guy, we want to deal with him. Servers tell wine guy, your friend wants something, retreating to a corner to fold napkins. Then it becomes a narrative, wine guy gives stuff away, free, which is not true. Wine guy has regular customers, yes, like a cop out on his beat, checking in on a neighborhood that is kind enough to check in with him.
Wine guy walks home, frustrated. He walks past shitty bars on the avenue at one in the morning, not even wanting to bother with them, but in a bad mood, needing human presence. A woman, gussied up, asks him a question at the street corner, maybe directions? A truck is rumbling, he can't hear, he takes his winter hat off, pardon me? She says something inaudible, looks at him funny, turns away, and he walks home, all the while conscious of sin and the evils of drinking too much. He goes home and turns on the television, does some dishes, wishes to go to sleep but can't. Jazz Night alone up at the wine bar, everyone high maintenance, taking time to aid an elder retired congressman up the stairs then finally down and out the door, all of which was a pleasure. Try to make people feel at home. Now there's no choice but to look for wine, and he already ate, and eating a meal will just keep him up further. Too tired to engage in words. Finally, bed, the good Christian mood and sense having turned into The Godfather, keep your friends close, and the Pharisees and Scribes closer.
Tonight, forecast for freezing rain on wine tasting night. And rather than having help, another server for moral support, there's a very good chance I'll have to do it all alone again, bar, back room, front room, wine chatter, explanation of discounts, specials.
New Year's Eve the boss, while we sat down for our family meal, asks, who's working upstairs with wine guy tonight? Wine guy makes a joke, as his help has come quite late, oh, I'll do it by myself, then mutters quietly, just throw me under the bus…. Boss goes, I'm thinking about it.
Well, it's time to burn some incense and light a Virgin of Guadalupe candle, walk through the woods to work. The boss was nice enough to thank me when I told him 'old people at the door,' as they weren't sure of which door to enter.
And I'll attempt to place Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Christianity conceals within itself a germ hostile to the church," in a proper Protestant place on the shelf.
Post script: I talk to mom on the phone as I walk through the woods to work. We talk of my coworker who has the habit of talking (talking shit) about everyone from the customers on down. Much of it is in Central American Spanish with other staff. Some of it is directed my way, during service, where she is laughing at customers and making imitative faces. So I shouldn't be surprised if she talks about my habits, 'my customers,' my 'friends,' and how I treat them (politely and deferentially.) "I'm sorry," my mother says. "That's really corrosive in the workplace." And gradually I feel better.