So this past Sunday was my birthday. I ate a lot of cheese balls, drank my fair share of tequila and hung out with my friends. Who could ask for anything else, really? I consider myself lucky. Although my birthday ended with me hanging out, it started with me being where I so often am: behind a bar. I exist behind a bar these days it seems. Sometimes I feel like I get off work and I am so happy and then I blink my eyes and there I am again. Behind the bar. Feet hurting. Feeling this intense sensation of helplessness and lack of control over where I am. It’s like being in the worst class. For me that would probably be 11th grade chemistry which was taught by this guy we not-so-lovingly called Coach T who always called me Frank Rebekah when he did attendance as if anyone in the world has the last name Rebekah (find me that person, I dare you) even though he understood that everyone else’s name was listed as last name comma first name. He also told us about the time he was maced by some lady in the park under murky circumstances and he threw a chair at me. Two completely unrelated events, by the way. Admittedly, I pressed his buttons on purpose but, really, dude was a ticking time bomb. The lady who maced him apparently was walking her GIANT dog when he approached her and she still didn’t feel safe with him nearby. So, yea, needless to say it was not hard to piss him off and seem entirely innocent of any wrong doing. I was a total asshole back then. Anyway, the point is that sometimes at work I feel as though I am sitting through Coach T’s terrible fucking chemistry class over and over and over again and there is nothing I can do to stop it. And I don’t even hate bartending! I’m just a little worn out. And sometimes it feels, similarly to Coach T’s class, although I am in some alternate universe where my name actually is Frank Rebekah and nothing is as it always seemed.
So, back to the story. On Saturday night I was working a relatively busy shift at work. It was challenging, as it always is, but slightly less challenging than normal. You see one of the places I work at is frequented by a lot of very demanding people. And by demanding I mean they demand for me to acknowledge their reality that, regardless of how it might look to the untrained eye, they are in fact the only people in the room. I might look out and see 3 deep at the bar but that would be entirely incorrect. I am, in fact, standing in a room that is entirely empty except for this one person who wants me to “make a drink for a female” while I am running a credit card and pouring a beer. And, to be entirely honest, I still am not completely certain what “a drink for a female” really is. Like, I drink whisky or tequila on ice depending on the season and, last time I checked, which was just now in the shower, I am, in fact, a female. So it stands to reason that “a drink for a female” is some sort of liquor poured over ice and sipped through a teeny tiny straw (it’s for style). But that, apparently, is not correct. I don’t know. It’s confusing. Anywho, in order to relay their needs to me the people at this bar do a lot of yelling of the words “excuse me.” I hear the phrase “excuse me” on average like 150 times a night. And it’s not any of the excuse me’s that I normally use. Like,
(1) Excuse me but would you mind moving that chair over?
(2) Excuse me! Coming through!
(3) Aaaaaa-choooo! Excuse me!
(4) Excuse me? I think I missed that.
(5) Excuse me but is that your credit card on the floor?
No, it is none of those excuse me’s. It’s like “Ummm excuse me?! I have been standing here for 30 seconds and you haven’t acknowledged me so I am going to wave my hand in your face and when that doesn’t work I am going to poke you in the arm and then get angry when you politely ask me to not touch you.” It gets tiring after a while. Because as it turns out, using a phrase that is generally thought of as polite does not pardon the behavior that comes after. Or the tone of voice used to deliver the phrase. As I am sure you can imagine as the night goes on these constant excuse me’s become more and more trying. And so in an effort to not entirely lose my mind, I try to stay business-like. I just listen to the order and make the drink and move on. No small talk, no jokes. Just drinks. I actually end up speaking very little beyond “Hi what can I get for you?,” “okay that’ll be $15. Card open or closed?,” and “thank you.” I try to use “thank you” as much as possible. I thought this was all very successful until Friday night this one dude told me he needed to talk to me about something. He wouldn’t tell me what it was about which left me feeling anxious all Saturday until I managed to get it out of him that night. After midnight. Which was technically my birthday. This is how it went:
Me: So what did you want to talk to me about?
Him: I don’t want to tell you right now
Me: Oh my god give me a break.
Him: Fine. Everyone thinks you’re a jerk and you walk around here like you own the place. They said you used to be so sweet and now you’re just a beast.
Me: (While reflecting on the fact that I am pretty sure I walk around there like I am trying to keep dudes from grabbing my ass) I’m sorry, what? A beast?
Him: Yea. They used to like you.
Me: They who?
Him: You know.
I didn’t know. And then I got really upset because who likes to hear that everyone hates you. On your birthday or otherwise! And then I remembered that the last conversation I had with this guy went something like this:
Him: When are you going to let me eat your pussy?
Me: You are disgusting.
So I don’t know, maybe he was upset about that. But even still, what a dick move. Like, “happy birthday, I know you think you’re a good person but the reality is that you suck. SURPRISE!” And I thought about it and I realized, I don’t really care if everyone hates me. And I don’t even think it’s true that they do. I am fairly certain that the only people who hate me are the people who for whatever reason expect free drinks and then get really mad when I won’t give it to them. And besides, you try being nice when you are yelled at for like 4 hours straight. It is not easy. And it sort of bleeds into the rest of your life and makes you feel like maybe you’re the asshole. Like you wake up in the morning and you think,
“Man, am I the worst or is everyone else the worst?”
and the only people who really get it are the other people who also wake up feeling that way. Feeling like they are assholes who yell and that everyone hates them. Anyway, so apparently according to this one guy, my anxiety was not misplaces. Everybody hates me. Happy birthday to me. Have some cheese balls.