The mind thinks of a lot of things before a shift. It thinks of how Christmas night will be, having to work. Christmas Eve, fine, I'll work, no problem. But to pretend everything is fine missing Christmas dinner, to be at the table with standing rib and his old mom and his brother's beautiful family, a good wine, the kind of thing you've been preaching about all year, the sanctity of family and the good dining experience, because I have to go in at four in the afternoon and wait on the people who show up on Christmas... then that last hour, just close the damn kitchen, lock the door, to hell with the drinkers, we served our prix fixe menu and that's it and now it's time to go home, and the boss is there with his family as they were on Christmas Eve, 'why don't you sit downstairs in the main dining room tonight,' as the last few minutes tick down to nine o'clock on this worthless shift that makes me look like an asshole and America is about religious freedom, don't you get American culture Frenchy? The mind picture the guy who shows up and sits there with a smile on his face waiting to be fed right as you get in, and sits there, and sits there, and is going to take his time over the four courses... 'Here's Kermit Lynch's wine trail adventures, entertain yourself, buddy.'
And then there is the worst bar customer of 2014 contest, a consideration of the people who talk about themselves, turn every conversation their own way, and us in the service business, we're usually pretty tolerant, willing to try kindness out of a goodness based in the heart but fuck it it's not working.
And I'm some poor bastard literary bachelor of the kind that human history spits out upon occasion, Chekhov, Larkin, but that they had a plan, a way of survival, means to fall back on, which of course you need if you're going to attempt anything so Sisyphusian.
You get there, it's not so bad. The busboy has disappeared, tinkering away beneath the garbage disposal down in the kitchen as you set up, lug up mineral water yourself... change a lightbulb, the first customers already at the bar.
3800 in sales later, you eat your piece of liver alone with your iPhone propped up against a bottle of Chiinon, clean, dust, restock, replenish the olive supply, the citrus, the odd bottles gone through, get home past bar closing, have another glass of Beaujolais over some vintage hairy erotica while making good relaxing use of a Fleshlight to keep nature in good working order--ginseng, swear by it--go off to bed just as it gets light out, get up when the alarm goes off after two in the afternoon, fold a shirt, make green tea, reheat a hamburger, grass fed, with caramelized onions, a bit of green vegetable, shower, dress and do it all over again, all without a retirement plan.