Some might think it takes someone amazing to be a bartender. Someone who has a high level of patience, or someone who likes to watch a good fight.
I think I'm pretty average.
I can't quite explain what attracted me to the job of being a bartender. I mean, I'm not obsessed with alcohol. In fact, somedays I get sick of the smell and hate it. And I don't do it for the stories, though I must admit some pretty amusing characters come through here. And I certainly don't do it to practice playing therapist.
But I'm Bob Turner, I'm 34, and this is my career: bartender to the Lucky Four.
Most people come in here hollering and hooting, ready for and anticipating a good time. They don't pay much attention to me. I doubt they even recognize my face the next time they look at me, reaching for their beer or martini. I'm just the gateway to their good time, whether they're off to celebrate a birthday or a holiday, or just blow off steam on a free Friday night. I don't hold it against them. Before I was one, I didn't pay any attention to my bartender, either.
Tonight is one of those Friday nights. It's slowly getting packed when a group of college kids come stumbling in. They aren't drunk yet, but it's sort of like they're prepping their body for what's coming. I swipe the counter with my trusty white rag real quick, then smile and wait for their orders. The men order beers for everyone, though one or two ladies in the group don't seem too happy with the decision.
Once I give them what they want, they're off to the dance floor. A tall boy in the group has only taken one sip of his beer, and he's already slipped, crashed into a table, and dragged the poor girl he was trying to make a move on down with him. I hear a strangled cry and assume that the poor girl's four inch heel has been driven into someone's ankle.
"Crazy kids," an old man sighs from his spot at the bar with me. He sits here every Friday night. Sometimes he talks to me. It seems like now is one of those times. He scratches at the white bristles of his beard. He hasn't shaved in a few days. "How do you think them lasses learn how to walk on stilts like that? I mean, clearly that lass didn't know how, but the other ones."
I shrug my shoulders, helpless for an answer. "It's a talent known only to women, it would appear."
The old man shrugs back and returns to his drink, seeming to have gotten the need for conversation out of his system.
I offhandedly return my eye to the dance floor in time to see one rowdy soul steal the microphone stand from the lead lady singer. The owner thought live entertainment would be nice. Now it's turned into karaoke.
For the next 30 seconds, I listen to someone belt out a poor rendition of "Stairway to Heaven". Then there is breaking glass, a thump, cheers, and a new pair of vocals singing a more popular pop song. Since they aren't doing too bad, the bouncer doesn't make them get down off the stage when they jump onto it. He just grabs the unconscious body of the terrible singer and half-drags it away, his friends following like ducks in a line behind him.
It's the kids who just came in, to my surprise. The tall boy is the one passed out and having an EMT called for. I guess he tried to impress his date. She doesn't look impressed, with her black eye, broken heels in hand, and night ruined.
As I listen to the sirens approach, I shake my head and sigh. Most people coming here as a prelude to the real night on the town don't run into trouble.
Some, evidently, cause bodily harm, prove that certain people should not audition for American Idol, and waste a $3.00 beer in the span of two minutes.
But that's a bar for you. We have a diverse and potentially dangerous society on our hands.