Friday, August 13, 2010

The Bartender

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Many moons ago I regretfully was employed at a bowling alley. Shamrock Lanes in Airdrie to be exact. I hated that job. I wanted to smash my face against the candy counter every single night I worked there. Why, you ask? Allow me to go off on a tangent.

As a pin jockey, I was expected to do a hell of a lot of things. Well over what I should have done for my measly $5.25 an hour or whatever minimum wage was back then. I was expected to run tangles (fix pins when their strings tangled), sweep the lanes with a huge broom, wash the stairs leading down to the bowling alley, clean the bathrooms, clean the lounge, clean behind the counters. Ugh. Oh and I also had to clean the pins once a week. That meant going into the back, sitting down on the hard lane, and cleaning each pin by hand to clear off the scuffing from the balls. Not only that, but I had to rub oil on the pin decks as well (which I usually didn't bother doing because it was stupid and I hated my job). That particular task took forever. Five pins times twelve lanes times about two to five minutes PER pin to clean.

But the worst worst WORST part of the job was serving the stupid fucking riff-raff that came into the bowling alley every night. I worked "league nights," meaning I didn't deal with the general public. I got to deal with the hardcore crowd. Each night had a different type of group of bowlers. Tuesday was youth bowling, and Wednesday was the "light beer" crowd.

I hated them all. They were all so cheap and rude and loud and made a huge mess that I had to stay late to clean up. They bowled regularly (every week) yet still often brought their nasty ass rental shoes back to the counter to exchange for another pair. They were usually fat, obnoxious, and the type of person I wouldn't want to be around. Hell, there was one dude who had been convicted...yes...CONVICTED of raping his own daughter (the daughter and he made amends several years after and she was allowing him to babysit his granddaughter at the time I met him).

The most terrible of all the bowlers, however, were the Thursday night gang. Dubbed the "hard liquor" league, these ugly, high-ball soaked nutsacks drank until they could barely stand. As the blood alcohol rose, their throws became harder and more violent, thus causing more tangles for me to fix. They became louder and more annoying as the Thursday evenings went along. They frequently pissed in the ashtrays in the washrooms and smoked like chimneys.

As bartender, I can say the tipping was atrocious at best. Most didn't tip even a penny. Those that did tip thought it was acceptable to tip the bartender a nickel or a dime. Thanks! On a good night (this being about 7PM to 2AM), I made about ten bucks in tips. These cocksmoking fuckbags were the worst living creatures in the world to me.

Now, when you have seething contempt for someone, you don't want to be around them. You don't want to chat with them and you don't want to be their friend. I frequently became grumpy due to their stupidity paired with my boredom, and so I wasn't in the mood to play nice.

Enter Paul. Paul never was seen without a drink in his hand, except for when he first entered the alley at the beginning of the evening. Paul was a scrawny little pissant of a man, with his outdated specs and tattered hoodie-jacket thing. Anyway, Paul was a fairly sociable fellow and seemed to be liked by his peers. Though that's about as cool as being a stupid kid liked by even stupider kids.

One night, Paul walked up to me and leaned awkwardly against the counter. He ordered a rum and coke which I quickly made so to send him on his way. He instead decided to take a seat at a stool while I was cleaning some glasses and tried to engage me in conversation. In a buzzed slur he said to me:

"Come on, man! Youuuuuuuu gotta come party wish us."

He didn't know my name despite being told easily twenty times in my tenure at the bowling alley...and "wish" was "with," but he was slurring. Savvy?

I told the teabagging crapsack that I was working and so I was not allowed to join the group. Unfortunately, Paul had spoken with my boss and my boss said it was all right to do so. Of course, my idiot boss would have expected me to stay EVEN later to help close if I had joined them. I still said that I didn't think it was a good idea to join them until I was done with my work. Paul smiled, looked me up and down like he wanted to rape me, and said:

Dude, you gotta lighten up! LIVE A LITTLE!"

What I said in response was pure poetry. It not only was witty. It not only scared Paul. But it succeeded in ensuring that none of the Thursday night browneyes would ever bother me again so long as I worked there:

"Paul? How am I supposed to live a little when I feel so dead inside?"

Deadpan delivery. Paul's jaw dropped and he stumbled off the stool without saying a word. Paul never talked to me again, and it seemed as though all the bowlers on Thursday nights treated me with "respect" and handled me with kid gloves.

Moral of the story? If you want someone to leave you the fuck alone, just make them think you're batshit friggin loco. Oh, and never work at a bowling alley if you want to keep your soul.

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