Scouting for managers between two five-and-a-half-foot cup racks by a dimly lit storage corridor, I gulped the last piece of a crab cake. I wiped my face with my apron and darted to the freight elevator. Scurrying through the kitchen staff and between waiters, I stuffed my pockets with rolled up silverware. I glanced at the food tickets for the next order up and dashed through the swinging doors. Guests at the bar make eye contact with me to serve them, but I point at the bartenders and kept it moving. Speed walking into the wine room to refill soda containers, I look over my mixology book, wiping my forehead with my stained and damp button shirt. Being a bar back sucks! Five years at this waterfront restaurant and still no break. I have greater chances sneaking up behind one after a shift, gagging him, cementing his feet, then throwing him into the river! Not one of these guys will offer up their reign at the throne.
Later, I learned that downsizing began at the company. In that same week, I bumped into a buddy of mine that knew a manager named “Jerry”. Jerry told him of a bartending opportunity at a brand-new baseball stadium, home of the N.Y. Mets. My buddy gave me the appointment details, and I was excited! This was it, my chance to become a bartender!
Job opening day arrived! After two hours on public transportation, a tall man in a brown trench coat with a clipboard was directing people outside the stadium. Brown trench coat man asked for my name, slide his finger through the list and said,
“Son, your name is not on the list. Are you a new hire?”
I thought, well, I’m new. I am seeking to get hired, then replied,
“Yes! I’m a new hire.”
“So, stand on the line to the right,” he says.
After we arrived at the processing room to receive employment confirmation. A lady with a list asked for my name and searched that list.
“Which manager did you speak too?” she asked,
“Through a manger by the name of Jerry,” I replied.
“Jerry? Well, what’s his last name?”.
” I’m not sure”, I replied.
Suddenly, another manager projected above the others, pointed at me and suspiciously said,
“You didn’t fill out an application at all, did you? Like, an actual application, right?”
Everyone turned my way in dead silence. I looked straight into his eyes and calmly answered,
“No, I did not fill out an actual application.”
“That’s because you went online and applied, right?” stated the director of operations.
“Yes, Yes, that’s what I did! I went online and applied there.
“Let’s go to the main office and check,” she replied.
For ten minutes, nothing popped up, she again asked me,
“What’s the new hire position that you’re applying for?”,
I repeated, “Bartender”.
A male presence intervened and added,
“Bartender huh? Come over here. Let me make a call and give this a try”.
I walked over to this tall, slender, boyish looking, gentleman who was sitting on the edge of a table. He kindly introduced himself as the head director of every bar in the stadium. He flipped his phone open and proceeded to dial. Upon connection, he asked to spell my first and last name, while repeating it to the person on the phone.
He paused then says, “uh huh…ok…yea…uh huh… ok, good”.
He closed his cell phone looks over to me and says,
“Well, you’re definitely not in our system”.
My eyes squinted, I shook my head, threw a heavy sigh and said, “Wow. I came all the way from Jersey and”.
“Wait”, he interrupts
“Your name is now on the interviewing list for ‘new hire’ bartenders. I’m going to be conducting the interviews along with three other managers tomorrow at nine a.m. sharp. I apologize for any inconveniences, I’ll see you then”.
The following day, amongst the sea of new hires, a lady manager calls me over to have a seat. After seven minutes of naming drinks she says,
“Ok great. lastly, I’m going to name a type of food and you’re going to tell me which red wine pairs best.”
“That’s not a red.”
“And that’s a trick question. You need a high level of acidity to cut through the fat. The sugars in Rieslings also help counterbalance lactic tang. That’s the reason why dried fruits and jellies are served with cheese. The answer is Riesling.”
She slowly smirks at me and says,
“Go to that gentleman over there, for your final interview.
Before I knew it, they gave me my hourly pay with a start date included and a warm welcome to the brand-new ballpark, as a Bartender!