Everybody wants to feel like they’re doing something important; that what they do makes a meaningful and positive contribution to the world around them. It can be hard to think this when you work in a bar, it’s traditionally a low-skilled, low wage job, used as a way for students to make a little pocket money or last resort attempt for the financially challenged to pay the rent. I spend my evenings making drinks for the great and good – harried parents who’ve stolen away from the kids, hospital workers who’ve spent the day saving lives, teachers, plumbers, managers – people who make the world go round. Alongside this, cleaning tables and pulling pints can seem horribly insignificant.
Last Tuesday was rainy and grim, one of those days when no-one in their right mind would head out of doors unless absolutely necessary. So I settled back onto my charity shop sofa with my candy-crush-esque game and tried to extend my day off that little bit longer. I didn’t bother with the candles, the table arranging, the chit chat, the popcorn, all the bits I usually try to do to make the evening memorable for customers, after all there were only two tables. Slowly, from my position of indolence, I came to realise that one of the people on my sole table of patrons was here to celebrate their birthday. They’d taken time out of their busy lives and domestic drama to come together as a family for this birthday celebration and I hadn’t even bothered to light the candles. Im sure they had a nice time regardless, after all they were here to see family, not admire vintage light fittings, but I still felt terribly guilty. I may be here six days a week but for my customers, these are special moments to be treasured and remembered during hard days at work and long commutes in the rain.
Because it’s in these moments of relaxation that people find their sanity and gain the courage to fight another day. These stolen moments away from kids and work, where someone else does the washing up and your eye is not continually drawn to the bag of dirty laundry, they add sparkle to life. People come to the bar to meet lovers and friends, indulge in family and celebrate their best selves. They come to celebrate big occasions as well as small, celebrate promotions and completed races and the fact that it’s a Tuesday. By making those treasured moments as special as possible I can begin to make as valuable a contribution to society as that of my patrons. Because no matter who you are, time is short, recreation time is precious and how you spend it should be absolutely golden. At least that’s what I chant to myself as I light the candles and set out the tables just so.