Whether we love it or hate it, most of us spend a lot of time out at the bars which means that bar employees get a front row seat to watch customers get excessively drunk and put on their best (or worst, depending on who is judging) Jordan Belfort persona. Bar workers stand back and watch as each individual is having either the best or worst night of their lives. We watch and judge as all the patrons around us get hammered, but often find ourselves raging just as hard on our nights off.
I’m no exception. I’ve been working at a bar for the past few months in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida and have spent my adult years consuming alcohol in Manhattan, Las Vegas, San Diego, St. Louis and Los Angeles…basically every other major city; but this is the first time I have joined the other side.
One night I was working the door… y’know, blankly staring at IDs pretending I give two fucks if you are over the age of 21. The usual. But this night in particular I was annoyed from the get-go. I patiently wait as I countdown the minutes to my shift ending around midnight so I can go home.
45-minutes left in my shift, a rather large bridal party shows up. Most are too belligerent to enter, but I let them in anyway. They begin to get rowdy and order a round of drinks for everyone in their party. The party turns up a little.
30-minutes left in my shift, a concert down the street ends and we now have a solid blend of Young Jeezy fans walking by (should’ve mentioned that I work at a bar with somewhat of a dress code: no baggy clothes, t-shirts/collar shirts preferred). I have to turn away some of the concertgoers, which is frustrating in itself because I don’t like being that guy.
15 minutes left in my shift, my buddy shows up and says that I am not going home when I get off, and instead I’m going to have a beer with him. I concede.
5 minutes left in my shift, the wedding party begins to bust out awful throwback dance moves. Someone inevitably drops their drink which sets off a chain reaction of about 7 other people spilling their drink… I went from almost being off to now spending 25-30 minutes cleaning up the mess.
At this point I am frustrated, sober, and just want to go home. I don’t even have the urge to drink. I even question the entire process. People are just partying for no real reason, nothing substantial is going to come from this evening. Nothing meaningful. Best-case situation, I get laid. But I’m not the one-nightstand type, which means all of this really doesn’t matter. I begin to look at everyone in the bar as complete trash. While cleaning the shattered glass I constantly get bumped into and every bump adds to my temper.
Finally, I am off. My buddy hands me a beer and convinces me to sit in the back of the bar and chat. We head to a booth and I take a big drink from my beer and take off my suspenders (I wear suspenders as part of my attire for the bar). A couple of girls come over to the table and we begin to chat, mostly because they notice the suspenders (gents, they are a game changer and conversation starter). I begin to relax and enjoy the conversation and company.
My buddy orders a round of drinks as we talk. We continue to chat and hangout and get to know one another. We have another round of shots, only these are doubles. I grab a beer to wash it down. A few minutes later a few champagne bottles with sparklers on top pass by. At this point I am fairly inebriated and decide to follow the light, the girls and my friend in tow. The sparklers stop at the wedding party and I raise my glass for the bride and groom and shout “Cheers!” Everyone yells and we toast to the newly weds.
A guy from the wedding party hands me a champagne glass and pours me a drink. I turn to my friends and hand it back like an assembly line. The guy notices, smiles and hands me three more glasses and half the bottle to share amongst us. We begin to dine and pass the bottle around, sipping away. We are now members of the wedding party, basically. After we finish our drinks a member of the party, which seemed to be the Best Man, approaches me and asks what other bars there are around here. I told him to follow me.
We leave the bar and continue to have a stellar evening. We drink, we laugh, and we nearly get arrested (obviously for indecent exposure). All of the guys in our large group lined up on a brick wall and took a piss in a back alley. It was a good time, from what I remember. I got the number from the girl I was hanging out with all night and made some friends that I will never see again.
The next day I woke up feeling like complete shit. I check if the essentials are still with me: phone, wallet and keys. Once they are accounted for I grab a Gatorade and begin to nurse myself back a tolerable sensation. I reflect on the night and chuckle to myself about some of the things that took place, trying to remember each and every detail. Obviously I don’t recall everything; if I had then I would factor it into the story.
This is what we do. We don’t learn from what we witness. A majority of us have to experience things in order to come to a definite intrinsic conclusion. My conclusion: I HATE BEING HUNGOVER. I also hate making a spectacle of myself and doing dumb things, which tend to happen much more when I drink heavily. Why though? Why do I put my body and mind through this brutality? Maybe it’s the “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?” cliché? Maybe I want other people to have to tolerate my bullshit for a change? Maybe that is why a lot of young-adults go to the bar, because they want to let loose and feel more important than they do at their entry-level position or classroom.
Sure, I know better. I know the “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun being the loud one for a change. It truly is a degenerative cycle, and since doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity, it makes this exponentially worse.
Not going to lie, it was a fun evening, and maybe I will hangout with that girl again (I hope she is as attractive the next time I see her). I am sure she will be, after all I was practically sober when I first saw her.
Overall, the entire experience/lifestyle is repetitive and senseless, though fun. But is it all really worth it? Maybe. Was it fun? Yes, yes it was. Am I going to change my ways? Probably at some point. Do I fit the bar-employee stereotype? Sadly I do. Hopefully reflecting on my decision-making can bring me a step closer to an eventual better existence that isn’t circled around managing and contributing to a party. I know my liver would enjoy the change, most likely my bank account as well.
[Header image via Shutterstock]