Saturday, December 22, 2012

When Morning Comes I'm Just A Fool Who Repeats His Mistakes

Since it's almost that time of year again I figured that I would throw up a post that had all of my thoughts on Christmas.

This post is going to seem hilarious and jaded and hypocritical because a few years ago I wrote a post for this blog about how much I enjoyed Christmas and how it brings out the best in people. Since then I've completely changed my outlook on it. It's not that I don't enjoy Christmas, it's just that I'm indifferent to it. I still get to drink with some cousins I don't get to see enough and eat what is probably the best meal of the year, but it's just one day.

Obviously the reason most people go bananas for X-Mas is because they receive gifts. You can't really knock people for this, I mean who doesn't like receiving gifts. They're tokens of appreciation and usually things that you will really enjoy. What goes along with this is that most people also enjoy giving gifts because you get a great feeling when someone who you care about becomes happy as a result of something you've done. It's all pretty simple.

So while giving and receiving gifts is great, get over it. Haha. I guess that's all I really have to say about it. I mean does anyone really care that much? Be a nice and good person and do things for people the rest of the year instead of just late December?

What an anti-climax!

Nah, just kidding. Christmas is alright but people get way too worked up about it.

Later, gonna nurse this hangover and watch a trillion episodes of Farscape.

Monday, December 3, 2012

You'd Drink The Ocean And Ask For More, So Chalk It Up To Poor Judgment, And I Misjudged You

From Thursday to Saturday morning proved to be two of the weirdest days of my life. So much so that I really feel like I need to write it down here because I feel like it is a sort of hilarious anecdote and also so that I can get it all down in a place so that I won't forget because man was it odd.

I suppose this sort of starts on Wednesday of this past week. I had just worked at an Irish pub the weekend before as extra staff during the zaniness that was the Argo's winning the Grey Cup while it was held in Toronto. While the work was very tiring and busy, it was a good way to make money and I figured that working in a bar would be the best way to make a large sum of money fast enough to move away come January. I perused craigslist for service jobs and eventually got a call-back for a busser/bar-back position at a bar at College and Bathurst. I also had to rush out to Waterloo that day because Beat Noir is in the process of recording an EP and I am obviously part of that process.

The bar told me to come the next day to interview and drop off a resume between 2 and 5pm. I went downtown for 2 and got to the bar without a problem. I went in for the interview and the bar seemed like a bit of a run-of-the-mill hipster bar that is pretty common (and great) for the Bathurst and College area, though a little more high class. I definitely figured that this would be the type of spot that I would love working at and also have a load of fun being in that area pretty often. The interview went pretty well and the manager told me that the position would be for "upstairs" and involve "being there late" (This is important for later). I was pretty stoked, but had to rush out because I had a ticket for the 3pm Greyhound to Waterloo and it was already 2:30.

The next series of events can be described as this: College streetcar>walk down Bay>board Greyhound>Great Gatsby>get off bus>eat tacos and watch Buffy at Duff's>Mark records guitars>sleep.

The next morning I woke up and Duff and I watched 13 episodes of Parks and Recreation in a row. Near the end of it I got a phone call from the manager of the bar asking me if I could work that night. He had asked me this the day before but I had figured it was just a way to weed out lazy or unreliable people. Anyways, he says "Can you come in for 4?" I say no, because it is 2:15 and I am in Waterloo. He says seven then and I go and buy my ticket and get on a bus back to Toronto elated that I finally have a job and it is at a bar that seems like a pretty hip place at arguable the hippest intersection of the city.

Unfortunately the GTA (Greater Toronto Area for my apparently modestly sized Russian readership) got its first snowfall that morning. It is unfortunate because the first time it snows everybody suddenly drives like it's that scene at the beginning of the first X Men movie where Wolverine and Rogue get attacked by Sabertooth in Alberta and Cyke, Storm and Jeannie come to save them (Fuck that movie). So the bus that is supposed to take about an hour and a half ended up taking 3 1/2 and I got into Toronto at 7pm. Naturally I was pretty stressed out about being late on my first day of this job. Fortunately several episodes of the How Did This Get Made? podcast (Do you love watching really bad movies? I sure do.) made me laugh hard enough that I was able to forget about this awful traffic for most of the trip. So as soon as the bus got in I rushed off, ran into the Eaton Centre Old Navy to buy a black shirt for the shift, ran up Bloor to College and got on the streetcar.

I rushed into the bar, saw the manager and apologized profusely for being late on my first shift. I explained the predicament of the bus and he seemed like he understood. My mood about working at the bar at this point could be described as "Okay, work hard to make him forget you were late." He took me downstairs to show me where to put my things during the shift and said "Like, don't leave your money." (That is what I should've recognized as an "indicator") I went upstairs and began sweeping up all the staircases free of debris. The first thing I realized was that the upstairs was very far from what I thought it would be. There was a huge open area for dancing and a bunch of booths that were obviously going to be used for bottle service. The bar was also having some type of one year anniversary for some house music blog. My mood about working at the bar at this point was "Well, just see how everything turns out." I spent the next half-hour sweeping up a bunch of random staircases in the back of the bar.

I feel like I should explain the layout of the building to give a better understanding of the story. There are three levels to the building. The main floor is the bar I was interviewed in. There is a pretty large bar, a nice and well-maintained kitchen a huge dining area where the tables are made out of front doors (You can see where I got the hipster vibe from right?) and a pretty large stage which the manager says he tries to get cover bands and the like to play. It's a pretty big bar and could probably seat 200-ish people. Then there is the upstairs. I know many people probably won't understand this reference unless they went to the University of Guelph (or grew up in Guelph I suppose) but it is a larger, slightly higher-class (not really, just a little nicer and probably more expensive) version of Apartment 58 or Tabu. There is a basement where coat-check is done, the office is and a bunch of random shit is kept.

So, after all that sweeping I went upstairs and the bartender told the other bar-backs and I that we need to go downstairs to get all the 24's of beer and bring them up. I thought this sounded like a reasonable request at first until realized that it was like 40 24's we had to walk up three flights of stairs. There is an elevator that is broken in this bar. Does the management not realize that fixing this elevator could easily save them 2 1/2 hours in set up time? We spent 2 1/2 hours walking up and down stairs with cases of beer and then filling up wells with beer and ice behind the bar. If the elevator worked this could have easily been done in 30 minutes. Also, it was around this time that I realized that the bar had no draughts upstairs. It was only bottles of Corona, Heineken, Alexander Keith's and tall cans of Stiegl put into metal wells behind the bar that were then filled up with ice. So you only serve bottles in this bar and have the only beer fridge in the basement. And you have not thought of either fixing the elevator or building a beer fridge upstairs? Again, all you serve is bottles. You may need to re-think a few things about how you run your business.

We also to clear an enormous amount of shit out of the top floor of the building, carry it downstairs (because again, NO ELEVATOR. THE RESTAURANT I WORKED AT BEFORE HAD AN ELEVATOR FOR THIS REASON AND IT WAS TWO FUCKING STORIES) and then put it where they kept the rest of  their garbage which was of course behind a big white curtain in the coat-check room. Where else would it have gone right? Something I noticed this night was that there were little to no garbage cans in this building. Like two behind one of the bars used for Red Bull cans and water bottles but no actually garbage cans and no dumpster anywhere for the bar. Is it just me or it that really weird? I started to get the impression that the top floor of this bar had been opened like the fucking day before or something, because we were clearing some really random shit out of this place.

Around this time I found out that the other two bar-backs who were working with me were also on their first day and also interviewed for the job the day before. I realized around this point that the position was pretty bullshit and they obviously have an extremely high turnover rate for bar-backs because it doesn't take people long to realize how bullshit it is to pointlessly haul all that beer around. My feelings on the job at this point were "I don't think that I am going to come back. Let's just get through this night." The bartender who was showing us around and telling us the things we had to do before opening initially seemed like a pretty nice guy, but I realized after a while that he bartends in a club and is very good at putting on a facade and has a way of speaking about the position that makes it seem far more reasonable than it actually is. Having some experience in the service industry (albeit very brief) I could see through this and just tried to finish as quickly as I could. I realized most of the people I worked with fucking sucked (minus the three bar-backs I was working with) and were probably on cocaine. For example:

Bartender: Okay, put another layer of bottles in the wells and top them up with ice.
Me: Okay. *Go about doing exactly that*
Bartender: I thought I told you top them up?! Did you hear me?!
Me: They are full
Bartender: *Looks in the wells* Oh.

First I thought this was going to be a Bathurst and College Toronto hipster bar like downstairs. Then I thought it would be something like Dance Cave. Then I realized that it was a club in the most awful way and there were going to be house and EDM (According to Wikipedia: Electronic Dance Music is electronic music produced primarily for use in a nightclub setting. Fuck that shit so much. I won't even get into how much I hate and how little I respect this type of music.) playing. Fan-fucking-tastic. Around this point I kept muttering "This place sucks" to myself and realized that there was no way in hell I was coming back the next day. We were told that at 2:30 we have to go out and bus everything in order to get all alcohol off the floor by the legal hour. We would then have to clean up and the bartender told us that we'd be lucky to get out by five, but it could be as late (early?) as 6 or 7. I'd pretty much had enough.

One of the other new guys and I were charged with bussing the main dance floor area for the duration of the night. He was a little younger than me and was a really nice guy, but this was his first ever job in the service industry so he didn't realize how outrageously bullshit this job was and figured it was just the way it went. Around 10:30 a few people started to filter in, but it wasn't so busy. I mainly shot the shit with the other bar-back for a while a bussed a few things. By this point I knew there was no way in hell I was coming back again and hated the bar with a fiery passion. The music being played, the type of people coming to the bar and the general atmosphere of the environment is the entire reason I got into punk rock in the first place. I hate these dicks who come to flash their money and try to hook up with whatever girl is drunk enough to go home with them, all to the worst fucking music I've ever heard in my life. I;m so happy my music scene  is (at least mostly) free of these pretentious and arrogant assholes. I was extremely tired as I hadn't eaten since about 2, had gotten on a bus for three and half hours and then come right to the bar and not gotten any type of break. I was running on a bowl of Reese Puffs and half a bag of Ringolos and having one of the worst times of my life.

Then at about 12:30 the crowd start to really fill in. The bar got packed (despite the bartenders constantly telling it was "such a chill night") and the crowd looked more or less like this. My job consisted of walking through an extremely crowded dance floor filled with these losers and picking up empty beer bottles and glasses and taking them to the bar. I didn't even get a bin to put them into; I just walked around and picked them up. It was awful. I really started not giving a shit at all at this point; I would bump into people on purpose and if they gave me any trouble I would just say "Fuck off", I would routinely pick up drinks that weren't even close to finished and had my phone out for a good portion of the night. It really takes a lot to get me actually pissed off. I'm usually a pretty meek and mellow individual and things don't really get to me and roll off my back pretty easily. So with that in mind, consider this: I was actively trying to make everyone's night there worse. I was so pissed about the bullshit job I had been given under false pretenses that I was working with no energy (FUCKING NO BREAK. GOT OFF THE BUS, WENT STRAIGHT TO THE BAR, AND COULDN'T EAT AND WORKED FROM 7 UNTIL 5) that I just didn't give a shit at all. Everyone there was an asshole and condescending and seemed like the type of person that I would enjoy punching in the face. At one point I took a drink and some 'roided up, badly-tattooed asshole told me he wasn't done with it so I stuck my hand (covered in bar grime) in it and gave it back to him. I really didn't care at all. There were two scenarios if something happened: Either he does something and gets immediately tackled and thrown out by security or I get fired. And I really actively wanted them to fire me. I put a lot of thought into maybe just bailing out on the night because it was so terribly shitty, but came to the conclusion that if I was going to go through a night this awful then I was going to get paid for it. I also felt bad for the other bar-back I was working with because it was his first service job and him having to cover all my bullshit responsibilities as well would have just killed him.

Also, none of these guys ever finish their drinks. They just buy bottles of Corona and Heineken (Don't you know? Those are the two best beers in the world bro.), drink them about 4/5 of the way and then leave them once they get warm. Remember, with these assholes it's all about being seen with a beer, not actually drinking it.

Since last call was at 2:00 am, at 2:30 all the bar-backs had to go out on to the floor and take away EVERY DRINK so that the bar wouldn't get in trouble for having alcohol on the floor at an illegal time.

Yes, that was actually something that they required us to do.

It was around this time that I started to think "If they really want everybody to put down their drinks and clear out, why don't they just stop the music? I'm sure if the DJ stopped the crowd would clear out pretty quickly." So I thought this at 2:30. And then I thought this at 3:00. And then 3:30. By this point the job of all the bar-backs consisted of carrying all the cases of empty bottles from that night back down all the stairs and then afterward doing the same with about a dozen cases of beer that weren't even used. So for the record my job consisted of walking a very large quantity of beer up three stories, shoving my way through MDMA-powered clubrats for four hours and then walking that same amount of beer back down all the stairs. I already knew the whole deal was bullshit and that I was done with it, but this was really the icing on the cake. On top of this I eventually saw a schedule for the night and the last DJ played from 1 to 5 am. 1 to 5! Fortunately for the owner of the club, at this point I could not possibly give less of a shit and do a worse job than I was already doing. I just really didn't care about anything!

Towards the end of the night the owner asked if I was good to work the next night at 7 again and I told him no, obviously. He said it was fine and that it happens pretty often. Of course it does, fuck. They must hire these bar-backs every week or two, have them work for a night, or a week tops, and then start the process again. It sucks that they take advantage of people who need jobs like that, but they've clearly figured out a way to run their business without taking care of the lower-level employees and exploit it. Fuck you guys too.

The shift finally came to a close at around 5:30. The owner asked me if I could come back the next day at 8 pm to pick up my wage and tips. It was kind of ridiculous that he was still making me work my schedule around this stupid bullshit establishment, but fortunately for him I was already planning to go see Such Gold at Sneaky Dee's, so I would be in the area and able to come grab it.

So I walked out of the club for the first time since 7 onto College street at 5:30 am with no thought in my mind except "Fuck the world. I'm smoking a bowl and getting balls deep in McGridles." And that's exactly what I did while in the company of several homeless people who had passed out in the dining room. I proceeded to catch the first eastbound subway home. One of the few funny and positive parts of the night happened on that ride. There were two guys around my age who looked like they were finishing up a lengthy night on the town. I had music playing and was working that day's crossword but was stuck on one of the longer clues. He asked "What's the clue?", solved it for me, handed me a condom, winked and then walked away. This is the type of smile-inducing event that is necessary in you keeping your sanity after that shitty of night. Not everybody sucks, you know.

I ran into my Dad, as he had just woken up and was taking our dogs for a walk, while I was walking up our street. After giving him the gist of the situation he told me to get inside and get some sleep. I shot myself a quick glance before hitting the sack and I looked worse than I ever had in my life. I had stayed up entire nights during university in order to finish assignments, but had never had this type of combination of lack of sleep, exhaustion, broken spirits and anger. My nerves were shot, my legs felt like spaghetti but also ached in all the worst places, my throat was sore and my mind didn't even know what it was doing. I looked like I had shiners under both eyes, they were so black and both eyeballs were about as pink as they could get.

I had figured that by this point I could put the whole affair behind and all that was left to do was quickly pick up the money owed to me and then go and cleanse my Axe-body spray/awful electronic music-drenched palate by seeing a fantastic punk band and remind myself that there are good things in my life.

But instead it just didn't end. I walked into the bar at about 8:05 and ask the owner if I could get paid. He says "You're early." I say "No, I'm not. You told me to come in for 8." He proceeded to tell me that the owner who has all the tips and money from the night before isn't in yet and then asked "Do you live in the area, can you come back in an hour?" I said I don't but again, fortunately for him I had plans in the area. I came back an hour later, waited for 10 minutes and then was taken downstairs where a group of people who looked exactly like this were counting up the tills from the night before and told me that it would take 20 minutes for them to do. I gave them a stare of disbelief and said "20 minutes?" while snorting  with raised eyebrows and said I wouldn't wait that long for them to count about $200 dollars in fives and divide that number by five to determine tips. I walked out 5 minutes later with all the money owed to me, happy that I could wash my hands of the situation and then take some of that money given to me by them and buy a t-shirt from a band, who works very hard and deserves far more than what they receive, with it.

All in all it really was one of the worst nights of my life. Very easily in the top 5.

But at least I got a sort of funny story out of it, right?