One day back at work, walking there, up the avenue past the embassies and the mosque, over the bridge and down into the woods where it is quiet and the air is different. I get in the door, just a few minutes early, and the waitress downstairs as soon as I walk in says, as she always does, here, take the phone, it's you and Martin tonight, and Hugo (the busser.) The restaurant has been closed since New Years Eve, and I find the bar a bit of a mess and not restocked at all well. The low tables are askew. Some haven't been wiped off. Are there silverware set-ups in the drawers? I get a slight cut from the foil from the new Macon chardonnay on my thumb. And then reaching to restock the Kronenbourg I get a paper cut on my right thumb from the six pack holder. The phone rings, I answer. Hugo gathers I need help as he arrives with two buckets of ice. I'm stressed out a bit, yes. Latex food handling gloves extra large size are down in the kitchen, though not easy to work with. Cats hate anything placed over their paws by mischievous schoolboys.
I look into the cooler again, nope, not enough champagne, not enough mineral water. The downstairs guy finally comes a few minutes before opening. He worked the bar on New Years Eve. Later I mention the lack of restocking to the boss in passing, and he reminds me he had to do inventory at the end of the month. Hugo helps me out earlier by putting the bottles I put out on the cellar stairs, Sancerre, Champagne, Bordeaux, in a big bucket, as I load up a milk crate with soda and tonic, lemons and limes, a few Rosé, beer, a few towels. Lug lug lug.
The night progresses, busy at happy hour, the hairdresser at the door wanting her glass of wine right when the door opens, and I've barely tied my tie, people to welcome back to town, the boss sits down for dinner, and right before nine a familiar gentleman comes in, and the boss nods, of course we will serve them. Reinforcements are coming, one the French guy who finally got his visa approved, and another guy who's gone through hotel school back in Switzerland and how has real experience tending bar.
The late trio tells me stories of eating at classic places on a trip to New Orleans, and of a visit over to Lafayette, a famous humble place where they serve chili dogs, chitlins, boudin, basically a gas station. They are enjoying the Beaujolais, and I pour them a sip of the 2016 Nouveau. They leave without taking dessert or coffee, and the couple in the corner, having savored their second round of Gran Marnier in snifters, they depart too. And then I am alone. I've ordered a couple of appetizers, rushed, not really thinking, not wanting to push the kitchen at closing time.
I have some Beaujolais as I clean up, a bit here, a bit there. There's no one to talk to. The two are cleaning the kitchen, pushing water all over the floor, and I get them a soda for the lady, a healthy glass of red for the guy. Thank you, they say. Do my checkout, count the money, wipe off glasses from the machine, like I've been doing all night, and finally, wipe the bar clean.
The wine professional must be careful. Nutrition is very important. Stress and anxiety are to be avoided.
At the end of the night, turning off the lights, setting the alarm, my courier bag slung over my shoulder, I lock the door and cross the street. I'm on foot tonight, and past midnight, feeling a little bit lonely, wanting to be around people. I walk up the hill to the basement bar. They have a decent French pinot by the glass, that with a soda water and I take out my notepad and write, because that's what I aim to do these days.
The next day, tired, the familiar feeling, a bit, I don't know, shaky, voice dry, etc. I am the sick man, the ill man once again. No spring chicken. I revive quick enough, green tea, a little dandelion root tea, a decent homemade meat ragu I'll eat without spaghetti to reheat, then I will shower and shave, take a vitamin, and get ready to go to work again, and feeling ready, fine. The guilt of not having done much with the day, and already back to a familiar routine, much as I participate in bringing relaxation to the guests, but you need your sleep, such a job. Reinforcements, professionals, are coming.
The shower, the yoga, a bit of self-honesty, such as comes through writing, which includes its risks of the confessional, does one a bit of good. And I could wonder now, what have I done with these years, but nervously wasted them, not teaching children, not having much to do with the fields of reading and books. But this is why writing is good, healthy, as is seeing the therapist.
Better if I'd been a sort of Kerouac bum, living with his mum..