Every Tuesday night for the past two years, I have doled out $4 Miller Lights and margaritas at a hole-in-the wall pub next to my apartment that doubles as a karaoke bar. I cannot count the times I have wanted to quit. Now, I cannot thank the manager enough for giving me extra shifts. I always thought I was better than the other employees at the bar because I had a "real job" and was only there to make some extra cash. These days, I don't talk back to the angry customers who think I put too much olive juice in their martinis and I silently pray that the drunk men who stay until closing time will give me good tips because they like how I fill out a pair of jeans.
Before, the bar was my second job, and it's very strange to think that this is now my primary source of income. Sometimes I wonder how my parents would feel about it — but I'm too afraid to ask them. Surely they did not drop $100,000 on my college education to see their only daughter get hit on by men twice her age while wearing an outfit half her size. I had gone to college to become a journalist — a word that symbolizes international expeditions, Pulitzer Prizes, and bylines in important magazines; a word that still gives me goose bumps, despite the fact that things haven't worked out so well on that front.
For all my initial complaints about bartending (the long hours, the obnoxious customers, counting soggy dollar bills at the end of the night), I have developed friendships with the cast of characters who make regular Tuesday-night appearances. There's Jade, the 40-something single mother trying to re-enter the working world, having spent the past five years as a full-time mom and the past two in a bitter custody battle with her ex. Then there's Mark, the civil court judge who loves ginger ale and comes to the bar with the sole intention of singing Buddy Holly. He confides in me about his wife's multiple sclerosis, which, according to his most recent update, is getting worse. The bar and Buddy Holly provide a brief escape from his fears, and I like being the person he lets his guard down with.