The parking lot is mostly empty. Plenty of spots. It doesn’t feel good. Neither does my head. I tried not to drink too much last night, but we all know how that goes when you work behind a bar. The clo-pin. It’s a right of passage in a way, but I miss my bed.
My feet carry me up the back steps, clomping heavily on the rain worn wood, pulling my weight on an unreliable hand rail. I take a deep breath as I clock in. I don’t know why, but I need it. I hope it will give me energy or a more positive attitude. It doesn’t.
I begin setting up the same bar I broke down several hours ago. Uncapping, unwrapping, refilling, washing, wiping, all that shit. I try to suck down a terrible cup of coffee just to keep going. My body craves water, but I don’t usually listen. Why the fuck am I here right now? I won’t get a customer for hours. I’ve been here too much lately. Fuck this place, fuck work. What kind of life is this?
I burp and fart my way through the set up. No one else is happy to be here right now either. It’s the morning dregs. We all get them. The evil eye that says just leave me alone for a while, let me set up in peace and get this coffee in my system before I have to be civil. I curse the existence of the restaurant, for not paying better attention in school, for the failures of a city that owes me nothing.
I wander to the back to get ice for my well. The dish washer is one of my buddies and he looks as bad as I do.
“What’s up man?” he says, spraying a dish down.
I shovel a scoop into the ice pit and begin loading up my bucket. I groan as he talks, “Ugh. You’re looking at it.”
“Yeah,” he said, his smile slowly fading as the realization of where we are and what we are doing set it. “Yeah,” repeating, much more solemnly this time, going back to washing another dish and I continued shoveling ice in silence.
We were where we were and there was nothing at that moment that could change it. We could dream of a fire burning the building down, giving us a free day, but it wouldn’t happen. It never does. Our day would go on and we would quietly hate the world for a while, hungover and miserable, shoveling ice and washing dishes in one way or another until it was time to punch the clock once again.