My First Day at the Dive

She’s probably 55, maybe 60. Her brassy yellow dye job is topped with a crown of silver roots and what I can see of her skin is leathery from sun and cigarettes. Most of her face is buried in a hole at the edge of the sidewalk in front of the bar. She heaves into the hole but still manages to spray the sidewalk with chunks. I’ve got a bucket of hot water ready to rinse it off when she is done.

“My teeth!” she yells after one last spray. “My teeth! I lost my teeth.”

“You what?” I ask, trying not to laugh.

“I lost my teeth! Down there,” she points into the hole. “Do you see my teeth?”

So this is my new job. I’m looking down a hole for some drunk lady’s teeth. I see them too, a partial of white chompers in the gravel, along with chunks of vomit at the bottom of the hole.

“Do you see my teeth?”

“No,” I lie. I can already see what is coming and there is no way I am digging them out!

“Can you look again? I have to have my teeth!”

“I don’t see them. Maybe you should come back tomorrow when it’s light out and look for them. Now move so I can clean up your mess.”

She stumbles back a little but not enough and water and vomit splash back on her shoes. There is some guilty pleasure in the thought that the water is probably burying her teeth further in the gravel, and she will be digging for them in a pool of her own vomit stew in the morning.

It has been like this since I got here, with three different patrons already cut off. The manager, Sandy, is pointing them out to me when a girl who looks like she is twelve in her school girl bangs and pink glasses stumbles over to the bar. “I need a shot of Fireball. That guy over there said he’d pay for it.” She points in the general vicinity of the lottery machines where a group of five guys are drinking Bud Light in bottles and talking in Spanish.

“Yeah, no, you’re done,” Sandy says.

“What do you mean I am done?”

“Done. As in no more alcohol for you.”

“What? But it’s only like seven! And I’m not even drunk yet!”

“You’re wasted.” Drunk Girl tries to argue but Sandy turns to me instead and says, “No more for her either.” She is going to show me around the kitchen when she sees another drunk with a fresh full drink. “Shit, where the hell did he get that? I cut him off like an hour ago.” She folds her arms over her chest and smirks, “Well Newbie, you get to go take his drink.”

“What’s his name?” I ask as I go to follow him.

“You can just call him Mooch.”

“Mooch?”

“Yeah,” she laughs.

Mooch has a blond crew cut and a serious booty that waddles as he walks. His drink is easy enough to take. I just pick it up as he sets it down on a cocktail table. “Hey what are you doing? That’s my rum and Coke.”

“Sorry Mooch, you’re cut off.”

“Hey how do you know my name?” He frowns, his eyebrows overtaking his gray irises. “Someone just bought me that, you can’t take it!”

“Actually, I can. I have to. It’s my job,” I say as I turn and walk back to the bar to dump his drink.

He follows. “No it’s your job to pour my drinks, not take them away.” I ignore him and dump the drink into a yellowed five gallon bucket next to the dishwasher. “Well then do I get a refund?”

“A refund?” I laugh.

Sandy cracks up too, “Where do you think you are? McDonalds?”

“She took my drink!”

“The great thing about working in a bar,” Sandy says as she turns a deaf ear to Mooch, “Is that the customer is never right.”

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