Thursday 20 Oct 2016

Storm Work
AJ Robinson

When you’re a bartender, you want to work as much as possible. After all, you don’t earn Federal Minimum Wage. You get much less. You also want tips.

When given an assignment, you take it. Well, that’s usually the case. For me, there was one time when that wasn’t the case. I would have gladly gone home, but it wasn’t an option. The manager told me to go out and open the pool bar, which I did.

What was my reason for balking?

It was during a tropical storm! Yes, that’s right, the manager ordered me to open a pool bar, which, by definition, is outside, in the midst of a major storm. It was quite the experience. I went out. I didn’t bother to take my umbrella, as it would have just blown away.

I managed to get inside the small building, which holds the poor bar, without too much trouble, but with a good deal of drenching! The setting up process was simple that day, as I didn’t bother putting out napkins, straws, plastic cups, or anything else that might blow away. I set out the premium liquor bottles, as they were heavy enough to stay put and the rack they set on was well back from the edge of the bar.

When all was in readiness, I raised the grates that kept the bar secure when closed. The storm hit me square in the face. The rain was moving almost horizontally and I was a bit surprised that it was able to reach me. While the bar was out in the open, naturally, as it was a pool bar, it had a nice roof on it that had an eight foot overhang! I thought the rain wouldn’t reach me.

I was wrong.

I stood there, the rain stinging my face and waited. I had a long wait, as there wasn’t anyone around. To pass the time, I turned on the three flat screen televisions in the bar. They were up high and far enough back from the counter that they didn’t get wet. I put on some sports and one news programme, so I could keep track of the storm’s progress and then waited to see if anyone would actually appear.

Lo and behold, a family of four did! They were in their swimsuits, no towels, and they got in the pool. It turned out they were from a northern state, on their last day of vacation. They were determined to swim in a pool.

I felt for the life guards.

I felt sorriest for the two lifeguards who had to be on duty to protect the family. Normally the lifeguards had a pretty routine, you could almost call it a stereotype, job. They sat in their chairs under a big umbrella, wore sunglasses and often had white cream on their noses.

They didn’t have umbrellas, which would have blown away. They had no sunglasses on, as the sun wasn’t out and the glasses would have blown away, too. The two just stood and held onto the steel poles that usually held the umbrellas.

This little scene continued to play out for a couple hours, until I heard the televisions shriek. It was one of those storm warnings, which air when there’s big news and you should pay attention. It was big. There was a tornado warning! That was pretty much the last straw. Management saw the value in “calling it a day.” He said to close up and go home. Never was I happier to close a bar.

Although it was most definitely not my most profitable work day, in terms of money, it was my most profitable when it came to having a great story to tell. To this day, that story gets the most laughs when I tell it to customers gathered around the bar. All in all, it wasn’t such a bad day.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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