It was a lazy Sunday. I was working at a small dive-bar (Jerry’s Bar and
Grill) in Brighton, CO and there were maybe two customers in the entire
place. I had been broken into the service industry at a multitude of
Mexican restaurants (contrary to any stereotypes, Mexicans work
extremely hard) and if it’s slow, it’s time to clean. Not to
mention that my brand new boss could easily see me working from his
office on a TV monitor. So, needless to say, I was cleaning. It looked
like the space under some of the lesser used glasses was a little
sticky, so I started moving everything and wiping the surface down. I
proceeded to wash all of the glasses and return them to their rightful
homes. Because I had nothing better to do and was on the clock, I
started on the glasses in the next row.
About this time, my boss, Linden Morris, made his way out to the front
of the bar. He asked how things were going and apologized that business
was so slow. Let me repeat that, HE, the boss, apologized to ME, his
employee, that business was slow. Clearly, he understood that when he
wasn’t making money, I wasn’t either. He went on to thank me for
cleaning underneath the glassware. I found this shocking. I’ve always
been a hard worker and I’ve always gotten along OK with my managers and
bosses, but never in all my years (at that point in time and to this
day) had I been thanked for cleaning. This is inclusive of 17 years of
housework, on my mother’s behalf.
Somehow, as hard as I found it to believe, my new boss had a bad rap
around town. People thought he was mean and mistreated his often
beautiful (although somewhat sticky-handed) employees. People thought he
was stingy (I guess a 2 for 1 happy hour doesn’t go far around those
parts) and a jerk (he made it clear that he would not tolerate bar
fights). I completely disagreed. Linden was anal. He was the first to
admit it. He wanted things done a certain way. If you could manage to
run his business and not steal from him, I found him to be pretty laid
Over the course of the next few weeks, Linden slowly showed me the
ropes. I gained confidence as a bartender and learned to spot problems
before they happened. The first time a bar fight happened on my watch,
Linden drove down at 1am to help me mop the blood off the walls. In
retrospect, had Linden been working, that fight never would have
happened under his watchful eye. It seemed that the people in this bunk
little town all had moderate to severe drinking problems. They drank all
the time, drank too much, and often had an array of personal problems
and social conflicts. Linden had been running bars for his entire life
and could smell trouble a mile away.
It wasn’t long before I was personally thanked for my hard work in the
form of a raise. Not to mention getting some better shifts. My bleak
Sunday mornings soon turned into late Friday and Saturday nights. I was
given the run of the place and I did my best to keep things running the
way that Linden wanted them.
After about six months, Linden informed me that he was selling Jerry’s.
The soon to be owners were a cool, hip couple from New York who were
going to “breathe new life into the place.” When I found out, I cried.
Linden was by far the best boss I’d ever had. I couldn’t help but worry
that the new owners wouldn’t have the experience or the dedication to
make my job the same. The transition proved far from smooth, but I tried
to make the best of it. My new bosses were rich people. They didn’t know
how to make drinks and they had never dealt with the sort of folks that
live in Brighton. They had never bartended before and weren’t interested
in learning. They were extremely bossy and only wanted to work mornings
(come on, you just bought a BAR). They fought with each other constantly
and simultaneously told me to do opposite things. They fired my coworker
on their first day and asked me to increase my already 50 hour workweek.
I never had any help behind the bar anymore and it seemed that asking
for a cocktail waitress on a Friday made me somehow inadequate.
I took a week-long vacation after two months and they remained closed
almost every day of my absence. Needless to say, I was not making very
good tips, and was stressed out and unhappy.
Eventually, I’m afraid I earned the same bad reputation that Linden had.
I stopped putting up with people’s shit. After literally wiping up
someone else’s blood for an hour and a half, it seemed worth it to cut
people off a little sooner, or kick them out a little earlier to avoid a
problem. When I no longer had a boss who wanted any sort of involvement
in their business after 10 pm, I had to make decisions on my own.
Probably the bitchiest thing I ever did was kick out a couple of guys
(and pour out their full drinks) for whistling when I had asked them not
I walked out one night when I was told that my meth-head coworker had
been made my official manager (I had gotten her a job two weeks before
the transition and no, I didn’t know she was a meth-head at the time,
she told me she was ill with cancer) and been given a substantial raise.
Linden heard the news almost instantly and called me early the next
morning. He was baffled at the decision they had made and offered to
help find me a new job. It was a nice gesture, but at that point I knew
that my time in Brighton was finally over. I turned in my keys the next
morning and haven’t been back since.
A couple of weeks before the transition in ownership, a big group rented
out the bar for a birthday party with karaoke. It was packed. Linden and
I worked the entire bar by ourselves. He was shoving cash in my tip jar
all night and I ended up making a little over $200. I was ecstatic.
Linden was happy because we sold a lot of drinks and hadn’t had any
problems. On my way out he thanked me for my hard work and handed me a
50 dollar bill. I still can’t get over this. I had a boss who not only
started me way over the minimum wage, but also gave me a raise and the
occasional bonus. I don’t think this kind of boss exists here in Texas.
Maybe Linden is the only one in the world. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I just
can’t work my ass off for $2.13.