Dive Bar Nepotism
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if Charlie is trying to run this place into the ground on purpose. Between charging for tap water and beer backs, catering to regulars who don’t spend any money at the expense of new customers, and the condensation I find in countless bottles of vodka, it is really no surprise the parking lot is empty when I arrive for my shift. I am surprised, however, by the new face sitting at the bar.
“This is my nephew, John,” Charlie introduces us. John also goes by the name Peyton Manning… just in case anyone calls the bar asking for him.
“Um, ok,” I say, confused at why this near 40 year old burnout with yellowed eyes and pants three sizes too big has adopted the moniker of a famous quarterback.
“I’m putting him in charge,” Charlie says. “This place needs some new life and this kid, this kid right here, he’s got some great ideas.”
Kid? This “kid’s” hairline recedes, but instead of rounding out at the back like a cul-de-sac, the baldness continues down the back of his head to his neck, so that what hair he does have left exists as strips down the sides of his head kind of like a reverse Mohawk. “Yeah, what kind of ideas?”
“You know, like ladies night, getting a DJ in here,” the aging wangster says as he takes a long pull off a well drink.
“Right…” I say, my blood seething in my veins. Like no one has told Charlie he needs to get with the basic staples of the bar business already. Like I haven’t written out lists of real ideas that Charlie promptly ignored…
After the owner leaves I ask our new “manager” about the last bar he ran. “Oh I ain’t never ran a bar before,” he says.
Okay… “So where have you bartended?”
He shakes his head. “I ain’t a bartender, I’m a hustler,” he says with a proud smirk. Further digging, a little asking around, and the full picture is painted: John is a high school dropout; closest he ever got to a real job was raking leaves on a work crew during one of many stints in prison. He starts talking about how he’s going to run dollar shots tonight and I’m thinking I might have to break the Visine out again if this place is going to keep from going under.