The Chief Chancer

As is often the case, he seemed a really nice guy when I met him. As is less often the case, it turned out that he was a lot less nice than he appeared at first glance. Don't get me wrong, he never really did anything all that bad to me. But in the end he managed to fuck me over, and that is something that pisses me off to this day.

I don't like to be fucked over. Hell, who does? I like it even less when the person doing the fucking is someone that I thought was a friend. I know for a fact I am a better judge of character than that. So how did I put myself in a position where I allowed myself to be shit on? Especially by somebody that I thought I could trust.

That's something that, no matter where I have been over the years, I have always been able to avoid. Having people that I trust let me down. The reason for that is simple enough. It takes a hell of a lot for me to trust somebody. Only this time I was wrong, and so deep down I'm not sure who I am most disappointed in.

Him, for treating me like a piece of shit. Or me, for letting him.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I haven't even introduced the guy yet, and already I'm bitching about him. Let's rewind a little and see what this is all about.

It wasn't a new bar so much, as a new owner. I had met the previous owner once, a year or so before, when I had gone into the bar, and to be honest I hadn't been overly keen on the place. It was a little too small for my liking, the kind of place where regardless of which table you sat at everyone else in the bar would be able to listen to your conversation if they were that way inclined.

And I'm a guy that likes my privacy, sometimes anyway. So, as I said, when I had been in there previously, I hadn't been a fan of the place. But there was a new owner, and my friends kept telling me what a cool bloke he was, so I figured it wouldn't harm me any to go round and have a look.

The bar was still the same size, which was no great shock, as unless he had dug through to one of the buildings either size, it was always going to be that size obviously. But he had installed a television, and told me he was going to be showing the football. And the place had a dart-board. A real one, not one of those shitty electronic things that register your dart even if it just hits the board and falls out.

He was also a Liverpool fan, which was a bonus as it meant that I had someone to talk crap about football with.

We were pretty much the same age, and had both spent most of our lives working in bars, so we had plenty in common. He was Irish, which can be a problem sometimes, as not all Irish people are friendly towards the English, but there was no animosity between us. Even though he would get drunk and play Irish rebel songs late at night, I never really minded that much.

Like most of the English, I'm part Irish myself. This is the thing that the IRA always seemed to forget in the 80's and 90's when they were bombing us. We're all related at the end of the day, and seriously, even if he pissed you off quite badly, would you ever consider planting a bomb in your cousins bedroom?

But never mind that. This isn't about politics, it's about the Chief Chancer.

He was married to a Czech woman and had a couple of kids with her, and had apparently spent the last 6 or 7 years sat at home raising the eldest daughter while his wife, or War Office as he always referred to her, went to work. He finally got bored of this, and decided to do what any other Dublin boy who had spent 6 years stuck in the house would do if they could.

Open a bar so he had an excuse to go out drinking every night.

When he first opened the bar, he did make a real effort with the place. As I said, he installed the TV and the dart board, got all of his friends coming around on a regular basis, stuff like that. He was even doing food, stuff like full Irish breakfasts, at a fraction of the price they would cost in the Irish bars in town.

With winter rapidly approaching, and me working in a call center down the road, I approached him as to the feasibility of him doing hot sandwiches for the lads in the office in our lunch-break. Now this, had we been working in a normal office, would have been a no-go from the start, as he didn't like to open the bar until about 6pm. But then he would stay open for as long as people were drinking.

So there was no way he was coming in at 11 or 12 to make a few sandwiches. But like I alluded to, I wasn't working in a normal office. We worked from 1.30-10pm, and took our lunch-break at 5. This would mean him coming in at 4 to get things organized, but that was okay as it gave him a valid excuse to give the War Office for leaving home early. And time for a few beers and a few practice games of darts before he opened, of course.

For a while, this was working well, until the interest at work dropped off. I tried to keep it going, most days ordering two sandwiches for myself, but in the end there just didn't seem any more point in continuing with it, so the lunch-time deliveries stopped.

And gradually, so did all of the other food in the bar. He basically got lazy, and couldn't be bothered working any more, and so he employed another friend of mine to work instead. But he was still telling his wife he was working, of course, as otherwise she wouldn't have let him out of the house.

After a while I quit my job to go and do some stuff with some friends, but that didn't work out, and I spent a tough three months with no work, no money, no food, and no beer. Okay, that last one isn't quite true, as the Chancer allowed me to run a tab in the bar, knowing that once I was working I would be good for paying it back.

By now he wasn't even bothering to make sure he had beer most of the time, and I regularly heard my friend give a litany of complaints about how hard the guy was to work for. But hey, I had a bar-tab, so I wasn't going to criticize him!

After three months I was desperate for work, and so I went back to my old job, cap hovering somewhere in the region of my hand. I had been good at my job when I worked there before, probably better than everyone else. Better than everyone who was doing the job properly anyway.

It was a sales job, and I had broken the individual daily record 4 times in my stint there. So I knew they would be happy to have me back. It was just that I didn't particularly want to go back to the crappy, unsociable hours, the negative management team, and the ludicrousness of having to wear a shirt and tie to talk to somebody on the phone.

So we reached a compromise. I would go back to work for them, on the conditions that I worked the hours I felt like working, that I didn't have to wear a shirt and tie, and that I didn't have to deal with management. In return, they would only have to pay me for sales that I made. If I came in and made no sales, tough shit. That day, I would work for free.

They jumped at the chance to have a full time employee for free, knowing that they could feed me crap data through the system and severely limit the amount of sales I could make. Enough to live on and keep me coming back, not enough to make any decent money.

But I was good, damn good at that job, and so they were a bit shocked when I made more money in 40 hours that month than the top salesman made for four times that length of time with all of his bonuses. Then I did it again the second month, and the third. All this time, of course, I was paying off my bar-tab, and my rent arrears, as I had fallen behind with that too, and not saving anything up for later.

Why bother? I was making plenty, and I was just about free and clear of the debts I had run up while I wasn't working. It was all good.

And then I got fired.

Around the same time, my friend quit working for the Chancer, and he asked me if I wanted to work a couple of nights here and there to help out.

Sure, I thought. I need to get some money from somewhere. And I knew I was going to end up working full time, because I could see how lazy he was. As far as I was concerned, if I could pay my rent, get drunk a few nights a week, and eat when I remembered, then that would be all that I needed.

And that was how things went for the next six or seven months. All this time I could see the Chancer becoming more and more unraveled. He was drinking a lot more than previously, smoking weed almost non-stop, taking cocaine far too often. He also got hold of a load of magic mushrooms, and started eating them like they were candy.

His friends encouraged this behavior, as he was a funny guy, even more so when he was wasted. As far as they were concerned anyway, because when he got wasted, he liked to share and get everyone else in the same state. He was also having an affair, which wasn't the first time, but it was much more public and blatant than all of the others.

It got to the point where I would have to kick him out of the bar around 2am, otherwise I would be there until lunch-time the next day. So he would leave, and go across the road, get more wasted, and then invariably come back to the bar to get a few hours sleep, before taking all of the money from the night before and spending it.

Then I was coming into work to find no beer and no money to pay for it, and yet somehow I kept muddling through, keeping the bar going, even though he clearly wasn't interested in it any more.

By the start of February he was no longer speaking to me unless it was bar related. If I needed beer ordering he would organize it, but other than that he wouldn't speak to me for anything. Even though he would be sat in the bar for 6 or 7 hours each night, he would act as though the person working their ass off making him money wasn't there.

It was starting to piss me off, but I needed the money, what little there was anyway, and if he wanted to go into a sulk over some perceived slight then so be it. I wasn't going to let it bother me too much.

The main turning point though came around the time of my birthday. I had told him a month in advance, and reminded him repeatedly, that I was taking the weekend off to go away for a few days with my flat-mate. After all, by now I had worked 7 days a week for over 9 months. Who could argue with me taking a few days away to celebrate my birthday?

He never paid me much, just enough for me to do the three things I was interested in;

Pay rent, get drunk, eat….

There was never anything left over, but two weeks before my birthday I began to save up for my trip. Not much, just a little bit each night. A week before my birthday he sent me a text to tell me that the bar was struggling, which had been clear for some time, and so he was going to work for the rest of the week to 'raise some revenue'.

Which pretty much fucked over my plans to get away for a few days.

To say I was a little bit annoyed would be to imply that the Queen might be slightly privileged, but I didn't give him the satisfaction of letting him know how much his actions were affecting me. I replied with a non-committal 'no worries man', and scraped together what money I could from a few side projects I had going on, but I was still short, and so in the end I called a friend and asked for a loan.

The Chancer was not going to stop me going away and enjoying myself for a few days. I had worked fucking hard for his bar, and I more than deserved a few break by that time, and, thanks to my friend coming through with a loan, I was able to get away and just chill out.

When I came back, I found myself never knowing from day to day if I was working or not. Some nights I would be in the bar cleaning, getting ready to open, and he would text me and tell me to leave the bar closed. And then he reduced the opening hours of the bar to weekends only, which was making it almost impossible for me to make enough money to survive.

By now his War Office had gotten pissed off with his antics, and had put him under almost complete house arrest.

He still wasn't speaking to me apart from text messages telling me whether I was working or not.

Then he went to Dublin for a few weeks, and told me to leave the bar closed. There was no beer anyway, so I didn't have much choice in the matter, but as I was in serious shit for cash I took the decision to try to prove to him that the bar could actually make money if he stayed away for a little while.

I figured that seeing as he wasn't being decent enough to talk to me, he couldn't really be pissed off at me. After all, I could always tell him I never received the text telling me to keep the bar closed for a month.

I borrowed the money for a keg of beer, and got all of my friends to come round. With the money from that keg, I bought another one and paid the loan back. That keg gave me a third and some money for spirits, and so on and so on.

In all, he was gone for three weeks, and when he came back, not only had I managed to get the money together to pay my rent, but there was also some stock in the bar and some money left over.

A few days after his return, I again went into work to pick up something I had left behind the previous weekend, to find that he had apparently sold the place. At least, that's what it looked like to me. It was completely spotless, whereas it had always been dingy before. All of his personal belongings were packed up into boxes, clearly ready for him to get them out easily.

I called him to ask what was going on and got no response. I checked to see if there was any beer. Not only was all the beer gone, but also all the empties had been returned, obviously for the deposit owed on them.

I tried calling him again, nothing.

It was clear to me now that the bar was closed, and in all honesty that wasn't a huge shock as such. The fact that he was ignoring my calls, and had decided to close the place up without actually speaking to me, after everything I had done to try and keep his business going, was a real kick in the teeth.

A month or so later, I saw him in another bar, and walked up to him and offered him the keys to the bar. His response was to look at them, nod his head briefly, and put them into his pocket. He didn't even have the decency to say "Thank you" to me. For giving him the keys, for working my ass off for his business, for anything. Not a word of thanks.

Had I been a violent person, I probably would have punched him then, but fortunately for him I am one of those rare people that never sees punching someone as a viable option, regardless of the circumstances.

Since then, I have seen him on maybe a dozen occasions, and he hasn't spoken to me once. The last time I saw him was in July, which made it a full six months of him not speaking a single word to me, and for four of those months I was working for him.

I've referred to him throughout this as The Chief Chancer, or just Chancer, but in reality, I should be calling him The Chief Wanker. After all, you don't call a fork a spade, even though you may use it to shovel food into your mouth when hungry! Yes, The Chief Wanker is a nice, appropriate moniker for him.