Tales From the Gay Bar – “But I’m The Chosen One!” or “How To Piss Me Off Royally”

Posted: August 24, 2013 in TFTGB
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Me, I am a planner. I plan things. Preferably as early and with as much detail as possible. I don’t freak out when things don’t go as planned. I adjust. This is partly why I plan. So that when something goes wrong I don’t have to make things up at a moment’s notice. Instead I have an idea of what is possible and what might work.

Now some people say I plan too much and being prepared for any thinkable (and some unthinkable) scenarios is complete overkill. I say there is no such thing as too much when it comes to planning and all the prep work has paid of more than once. These past two weeks, I find I have, once again, been proven right.

A week before I left to go on holiday, John, who was supposed to manage the bar while I was away, called me. His mum had gotten very ill and he would need to take a leave of absence to be with her. I had to find someone else.

In my mind I was already on the flight, flirting with scantily clad women, drinking mojitos by the pool, buying groceries from withered old women with missing teeth in crowded markets, that had that very specific sweet smell that always seems to frequent picturesque towns in southern Europe on market days, but I had to snap out of it. My options for a sub were limited. Severely limited. Out of five shift managers, three were away (one of them was John, keep up you guys). The two I had left were Laura and Harry.

Laura is sweet and kind and new. She’s quiet and I promoted her to shift manager to build her confidence because, someday, when I find her inner bad-ass, she is going to make an amazing shift manager and I might even consider having her as an area manager at the parties. For now though, she remains quiet and lacking in the bad-assery department. Thus, not the optimal choice to lead the troops for three weeks while the wicked witch of the gay bar was away.

Harry bears a striking resemblance to his namesake from the British royal house. He is tall, ginger, and always seems to stir up trouble. He is also, unlike his namesake, not a big fan of mine. (Prince Harry and I go waaaay back).

Harry (the one from my bar) was a shift manager when I was hired back in 2008. He was actually the very shift manager I wrote about in the Tale of Christina and The Steak. He was very opposed to me being promoted, every time I was promoted. And he was very verbal about my shortcomings (in his opinion there were many). Not really my first pick to sub for me either.

Given the choices it unfortunately had to be Harry.

I informed him of the situation and already I could see the power getting to his head. He wasn’t paying attention at all. He was busying his mind with visions of my speedy demise and his subsequent rise to manager. I’m pretty sure he pictured himself in a toga, wearing a laurel wreath and raising his arm in a salute to his adoring subjects. Ave Harry.

While this pleasant scenario played in his mind I was desperately trying to point his attention in the direction of the very detailed list I had made. This list contained emergency phone numbers, “what do dos” in different situations and also general “what must be done on which days” schedules. Things such as “roll out the bins on Tuesday because Wednesday is trash day” or “on Sunday make sure to check there is enough beer for the following week, if not Monday is the last day to order to have it before the weekend” or “On Thursdays make sure the timer is changed on the ice machine because of earlier opening hours on the weekend”.

Simple things he ought to know after 7 years at the bar, but I made the list anyway to make sure I would not return from my holiday, to a disaster area in dire need of 50 Red Cross volunteers to sort through the rubble.

I was supposed to return to work the 29th of July 2013 (07/29/2013 for the descendants of the pilgrims or 21 Ramadan 1434 for the Muslims). Three days earlier, on Friday, my phone rang.

(Ominous music).

It was Laura, she sounded like she was about a nasty comment away from crying. “I’m so sorry to call you on your holiday, but everything here is a mess! We have no more cokes, we’ve sold completely out of our normal beer and a couple others are running low. The timer on the ice machine wasn’t changed so I have no ice, the refrigerators were turned off when I got here and I open in an hour.”

I managed to calm her down a little. I got her to call Ray and have him empty a supermarket for what stock was missing. I told her I would be there as fast as I could and to keep me posted. I had been house-sitting for my parents after I had returned from my trip so at least I wasn’t in another country. Still it did take me some hours to pack up and get back home.

Lucky for me during these hours both Ray and Laura stepped up way higher than would seem possible. We’re talking light-years! Not only had they remedied the stock situation and gotten everything up and running so the bar could run as usual, they had also found the time to keep me updated on everything they found that was out of sorts.

The messages I got resulted in me calling the brewery at 5 till closing, calling the renovation company and begging for an emergency trash pickup (only managing to get them to come because one of the guys there is a regular of ours and he did it off the books if I promised to put a couple of beers next to the trash) and calling in a favor with an old friend who is an electrician who also happened to know a good plumber. All this while receiving, at first passive aggressive, then just straight up aggressive, messages from my mum (My parents were coming home that day and had a big family dinner planned).

I didn’t go home to drop off my bags. Instead I went straight to the bar to assess the situation. It was a mess. The backroom and the office were both overrun with piles of stuff. The stockroom was completely trashed; with empty bottles overflowing their bins, and liquor bottles just left in random spots like dolls forgotten on the bus.

I was upset to say the least.

My bar. My perfectly organized little corner of the world. My oasis. Lay in ruins.

It was Sodom and Gomorrah and I was forced to turn around and look back at it. As I’m standing in the rubble formerly known as my stockroom, slowly turning to stone, Ray calls me from the office. See it turns out that the fire and brimstone of biblical proportions, that had hit and left only debris in their wake, was not enough.

As I entered the office, Ray was starring at the computer screen with a very distinct expression. An expression I have seen a few times. An expression that says two things: 1. We’re fucked. And 2. Neo’s about to have a meltdown.

No, Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t enough. For in this expression I now heard the sirens of the London blitz wailing all around me.

Ray had discovered that Harry had not been at the bar since the day after I left (not surprising given the conditions it was in), but worse even; he had not scheduled ANYONE for the next two weeks.

Bombs were falling; Ray was running for the bomb shelter, I repeatedly stubbed my toe against the wall while screaming bloody murder. Luckily the sirens were still wailing so no one could hear the choice words that came out of my mouth, but let’s just say my mum would have been horrified.

Once I had calmed down and they had sounded the all-clear, I picked up my phone. I called that sorry excuse for a shift manager and I proceeded to tear him a new one. The moment he got a word in he didn’t even use the opportunity to come up with a terrible excuse. No, instead he called me a bitch who had no idea how to run a bar.

I was done.

I fired him on the spot. Goodbye Harry, you will not be missed!

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