When I get to work, there are a few people there eating and watching sports. Amy, one of the waitresses, is talking a table of guys as she sits their beers down. When she sees me, she shoots me a wink.
“Football game tonight, girl. It’s going to be busy.”
Football nights are by far out busiest nights. I personally love them and hate them. Love the tips. Hate the customers. I get groped and hit on more than any other night. I’ve had to punch guys in the face because they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. I’ve never been one to be a fighter, but after getting this job, I took a few self-defense classes.
Behind the bar, I turn on my computer and grab my waist apron. I hear Phil in the back yelling about spilled beer. I don’t need to see who he’s yelling at to know that it’s Jennifer, the new girl. She’s a 28 year old mother of 2. She is newly divorced and needed a job because her husband took everything.
I pay attention to signing into my computer as they both appear from the back.
“If you can’t carry the trays without spilling shit everywhere then maybe you shouldn’t work here!”
Behind me, I hear Jennifer mumble something and when Phil walks past me, he throws his hands up. “Teach the girl, Lina! I don’t want her wasting my damn money all over the floor!”
“Yes, Sir.” I nod and Jennifer comes to stand next to me.
“I really didn’t mean to.”
Sighing, I raise an eyebrow, insensitively. I know I shouldn’t act snobby because I was once in her shoes, so I quickly readjust my attitude.
“I’m going to help you one time and that’s it. Don’t let this place or Phil intimidate you, Jen. It’s just a bar.”
She nods quickly and while my bar is still empty, I grab a tray to show her how to balance her drinks on top and how to carry them. I demonstrate by delivering one of her orders for her while she watches how I move around people and their tables. By the time I give her back the tray, she has it down perfectly. Well, almost, but it’s better than before.
My first few days here, I was her. I wasted so many drinks, my first pay was $10, because I had to pay Phil back for all I spilled. I hated being a waitress, but after hours, I’d play around behind the bar and make drinks when the old bartender was out. A few months in, he left so I asked Phil for the job. Now I only waitress when there’s a huge crowd. Which will be tonight.
As time goes by, I go through all the woes of starting my shift. In between, I make a few drinks for the first comers. The beginning of my shift is always nice and quiet. I like to think of it of the calm before the storm and I can already see the clouds rolling in.
On cue, around 6:45, the crowd starts moving in, taking up all the tables. People fill up the bar stools and what was once a quiet bar is now a screaming match between customers, the tvs, and me. The game is due to start in 15 minutes and everyone is ordering wells of beer and wings.
“Yo baby! Lemme get three Angry Orchards and a large order of wings at table 5.” A guy shouts from the end of the bar.
At my computer, I punch the order in “That’ll be $15.29!” I shout back and he holds up his debit card.
He comes down to where I am and I take the card, swiping it. After handing him his receipt, I pass him his two drinks, telling him that his order will be out soon. And by soon, I mean eventually. The house is packed. He shouldn’t expect to get it in under 10 minutes.
A few guys sit down at the bar and I put on a smile. “What can I get you?”
They all look at the drink list and while they try to decide, I see two women out the corner of my eye.
“Whatcha need?” I point to them.
“Uh, can we get two Malibu Sprites and a well of beer?”
I nod and pull out a pitcher and two cups. “13 even, honey.”
As she holds up a 20 dollar bill, the guys in front of me finally decide.
“Can we get a vodka coke, a whiskey coke, two Bud Lights, and a small Guac dip with chips.”
Memorizing the order, I sit the girl’s drinks in front of her and hand her the change. She pulls $3 out and hands it back. “Here’s a tip.”
“Thanks, babe! Enjoy your drinks.” I shove the tip in my front apron pocket and punch in the order for the guys. “$22.89, boys.”
I fix their drinks, sitting them in front of them and the guy in the middle leans forward.
“What’s a guy gotta pay to get with you, baby?”
Smiling, I wink. “You can’t afford me, sweetie.”
He gives me his credit card to pay and on the receipt, he writes me a $20 tip. He probably thinks he’s made some great impression, but he doesn’t know just how many times guys have left large tips thinking it’s the ticket to getting in my pants. I do appreciate the effort though.
As the game gets started, everything shifts into high gear. Waitresses are running around, I’m fixing drinks left and right with the help of the other bartender, Jonathan. I’ve peaked over at Jennifer a few times and she’s maneuvering through the crowd a lot better than before. She’s even smiling, most likely getting better tips now that she isn’t dropping people’s orders. I’m happy for her.
In the back, I hear no complaints from Phil. Everything is going smoothly…for now.
I can’t complain because with the crowd comes tips and I’m getting a lot of them. It definitely makes up for how sore my feet are.
Halfway through the football game, a fight breaks over and our in-house security guard, Buck, breaks them up and drags them out without no one getting knocked over. For once, I start to think that this night will go perfectly, but God knows I’m wrong.
When orders get overwhelming for the girls, I leave Jonathan behind the bar and start waitressing. I’m delivering a plate of wings and fries to a table of known douche bags. As I’m sitting their food down, one guy wraps his arm around my waist, pulling me down on his lap.
“Why don’t you take a break, sexy?”
“Why don’t you get your hands off me?” I try to pull away, but he tightens his grip.
“Oh, come on, I know you like the attention you get. I see the way you walk around here, showing off all this skin.” He lays his hand on my thigh and tries to slide my dress up. With my elbow, I thrust it back and hit him in the chest.
“I said get your hands off!”
I go to stand up and he pushes me. “Fine then, bitch!”
Stumbling over my feet, I think I’m about to fall when suddenly, two arms catch me.
When I look up and an older guy is staring down at me.
“Are you okay?”
I want to say something snappy, but all my words are lost looking into this man’s eyes as his mildly concerned gaze burns into mine.
“I’m fine.” I finally mumble as I stand up straight.
When I’m upright, the first thing I notice is that he’s significantly older than me, with silver all through his hair. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s the most handsome man I’ve seen in here in a long time. I don’t know how I feel about myself finding an older man attractive. His eyes are hazel with specks of green in them. They are kind, but something else I can’t pinpoint. As I’m analyzing him, I notice how large his hands are. Just from having him catch me, I can tell he is built under the black button down and jeans he’s wearing.
Brushing off invisible dirt, I see Buck hauling the rude patron out of the bar. Good riddance.
“I should get back to work. Um, thank you.” I smile softly, suddenly feeling very average in his presence.
“No problem.” When he shoots me a wink, but I brush it off as him just being no different than the others. Before I get too far though, I stop and turn around.
“Um, wait. How about I get you a drink on the house? It’s the least I can do.”
The man smiles at me and nods. “I’ll take a Scotch on the rocks.”
“Coming right up.”
Back behind the bar, I quickly fix his drink and ask Jennifer to take it to him. When he receives it, his eyes find mine and he gives me another wink. Either he’s flirty or he has an eye problem.
Getting back to my shift, I don’t have time to think about the man. I’m human and sometimes the guys in here seem charming, but I never give into it. This is my job and if I slept with every patron who made me smile, I’d be forever feeling a cool draft between my legs from my inability to keep them closed.
By the time 3am rolls around, my feet are aching and I haven’t had a break. I’m starting and tired. However, as I’m counting my tips in the empty bar, I realize I’ve made over $300.
“Thank God,” I mumble, grabbing the hand cloth so I can finish cleaning up. Everyone has left expect me and Phil and he’s in the back doing late night inventory for shipments this weekend.
Behind the bar, I turn the radio up and start singing along to this horrible catchy song that they won’t stop playing. For some odd reason, I get into it and end up singing into my hand. I think that I’m alone, but when I hear a soft chuckle coming from the front door, I freeze.
When I turn around, I’m more than shocked to see the gray-haired fellow that save my face from smacking the floor earlier.
“What are you doing here? We’re closed.” I start to think that the man is crazy. Every blue moon, we get the occasional mental case who comes in here and makes a scene. I’m about to call for Phil when the guy holds his hand up.
“I’m sorry. I just came back, because I left my jacket earlier.”
I eye him for a moment before reaching under the bar for the lost and found box we keep. Immediately, I see a black leather jacket sitting on top. Picking it up, I hold it up for him and he nods.
“That’s the one.”
I come from behind the bar and he meets me half way to get it. When he takes it, he again lets out fingers touch. It was not a coincidence the first time. He definitely did it on purpose.
I quickly pull back and smile.
“Thanks.” He smiles and I nod. “No problem.”
“Do you like working here?”
I’m taken back by his question and I don’t say anything for a moment.
“What?” I frown.
“I said do you like working here? It can’t be fun getting shoved around for scraps of pay.”
For some reason, I sense arrogance rising off of him. Where does he get off asking me such a question? He doesn’t even know me.
“I don’t think that any of your business. Now, I think you should leave, now.”
“I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m sorry. I just saw how hard you were working and it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it. You deserve better. That’s all I’m saying.”
He steps towards and holds out his hand. “I’m Carter.”
“Lina.” Instead of shaking his hand, I just look at him. When he realizes that I’m not going to shake it, he lets his hand fall to his waist.
“Is that short for something?”
“No.” I lie. I don’t know anything about this man so there’s no way I’m telling him my name.
He’s about to say something when Phil comes from the back.
“All done, Lina. Are you ready to leave?”
Phil doesn’t notice the man standing there until he looks up from his inventory clipboard.
“Aye, bud, we’re closed.”
“It’s okay, Phil. He left his jacket. He was just leaving.”
Carter smiles and nods. “Yes. Thank you for returning it. I guess I’ll see you around.”
“I guess.” I shoot him a forced smile and he turns and leaves as Phil is shutting the lights off in the back. Once he’s gone, I help Phil finish closing and we both leave.