If only I had known the secret sooner, who knows what might have been these past few work weeks.
Had I had known that leaving my house at 26 minutes after the hour meant that I would reach the draw bridge just as the gates went up and the lights turned green, I never would have considered leaving home a second earlier.
Had I had known that clearing the bridge at just the right minute also meant that I would breeze through the school zone without the crossing guard stopping traffic for endless minutes, I certainly would have always made the effort to do so.
Had I had known that clearing the bridge and easing through the school zone also meant that I would be well ahead of the multiple school buses that seemingly stop every dozen feet, I would never have deviated from such a precise–albeit late–departure time.
Ah, to have known about this trifecta of perfect timing, say, yesterday.
Yesterday, when, at 10:30 a.m., a woman pulled the collar of her friend’s shirt, dumped her drink against said friend’s bare chest and then unleashed a barrage of such vulgar insults that even my toughest male customers blushed. When, at noon, a beer distributor I’ve never seen before rushed through the front door and began yelling at me in Spanish, pointing and cursing at our taps as I tried in vain to find out what he wanted before he stomped out again. When, by 2 p.m., my only other customers were those who wanted to write post-dated checks or turn in free drink chits. Yesterday, when, by shift’s end, I had made $28.
But, if it’s true that timing is everything, then today the stars took it upon themselves to align in perfect drive-time harmony and grace me with a work day at number-one job unlike any other I’ve experienced.
My first customer–a somber, enormously frugal regular–laughed and chatted with me as he sipped his cocktail, plunking $3 down on the bar when got ready to leave, saying, “I thoroughly enjoyed your company today, RG.” Huh? Huh.
Moments after he left, my bar steadily filled–locals I’d never seen before introduced themselves and bought rounds for my regulars. They were followed by multiple groups of tourists and out-of-towners, who also mingled with the new locals and befriended my regulars. When a group of bikers pulled in, I didn’t have enough standing room for them inside, so they happily sat outside even though we had no server, sending one person in to buy rounds as they needed drinks.
My first bar boss in the Keys suddenly appeared with a friend, and we laughed as we remembered that horrible first day I tended his bar, and how all he could do was glare at me as I made mistake upon mistake, repeatedly muttering, “You should know how to do all of this!”
“RG, you’ve certainly come a long way from then,” he smiled, waving his beer bottle around at my packed bar. Wow, thank you. Really. That means a lot coming from you.
When I looked up minutes later, my great guy and his pal were casually walking in, squeezing by customers who numbered more than I had ever seen in my bar at one time. I was dumfounded. My great guy never comes to my bar; I don’t expect him to. It’s a long drive for a beer, especially when he has to work a dinner shift after driving an hour back down the road.
“We came to see how everything was going,” he laughed looking around.
He knows how challenging number-one job has become. He knows that’s why I took number-two job and why I am now always tired and cranky and sometimes give in to the despair that I will never again catch up financially.
“I can’t believe you guys came to see me here!” I said, giving his pal a hug across the bar.
“You’re packed in here!” said my great guy, stating the obvious.
“I know!” I smiled. “You have no idea how crazy–good crazy–this day has been.”
I introduced my great guy to my former boss, my favorite regulars, a few of my problem children, and the rest introduced themselves. I poured beer, mixed drinks, washed glasses, made change, answered the phone–all the things I do every day at number-one job–but never, ever, had the atmosphere been so vibrant, so positive.
And never before had I made the kind of money that I made today. Because when the stars decided to dance for me on this amazing Thursday, they twirled and sparkled, missing no one and nothing as they cast their glittering spell over us all. My problem children took note of the generous new locals who, in turn, took note of the beyond-generous tourists. I was shocked. Utterly, happily shocked.
“What do you suppose prompted all that?” asked my great guy when we met for a quick bite to eat before he had to go to work.
“I don’t have a clue,” I said.
Except I do: I cleared the bridge, waved at the school and bypassed the busses. And for one funny, fun, wonderful day, the stars held my hands, and we danced and danced.