A Day's Work

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May 2001 / a day's work :: email this story to a friend

I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night
By Sherri Lucas

The alarm goes off at 8. Why did I think that I could get up at 8 in the morning? I'm a bar owner — I didn't get to bed until 3:30 a.m. Oh, I remember. There's a big church sale at 8:30 this morning and we're going junking.

Sherri Lucas

We own a bar. Not a big bar or a fancy bar. It's got what I like to think of as a Mom-and-Pop, down-home family vibe. When my husband, Bob, and I opened our bar seven years ago, we filled it with the stuff we found from going to garage sales. Since opening, our junking days have been few. Owning a bar and going to garage sales is like playing in a band and working 9-5. This had better be a good sale.

Bob and I make it to the sale by 8:35 a.m. and people are leaving with their hands full of what looks to be the best stuff. Bob and I pick through what's left and come up with a few things — some nice picture frames, a fishbowl glass, some shoes, and two vintage blouses — too small for me, but I know who'll like them.

We're ready to get in line and pay but the line is so long that we keep on looking for stuff. In the back of the church is a table of baked goods guarded by two church ladies.

We buy coffee, a crumb cake cupcake and a piece of sour cream apple cake. If we had seen the donuts hiding under napkins we would have gone for them. Devout doesn't mean you know how to bake. We choked down our purchases lest we hurt the feelings of the baker, who could have been one of the two guardians of the baked goods.

We're sitting, eating, when this one little old lady, looking very Edith Head-ish, tres chic in a faded flower kind of way, approaches the baked goods table. One of the guardians squawks, no rummage on the table! No rummage on the table! Miss Head's laid a tablecloth she's purchased on the table. Both of the guardians continue to cackle, no rummage on the table. No rummage on the table. The offender looks around, smiles sweetly, and says I only need a cup of coffee. Bob and I smile at each other knowing that the WWF can't stage a fight as savage and fierce as the word play and one-ups of the senior crowd.

The line is getting smaller — time for us to go. We leave. It's 10:40. I need a nap. We've got deliveries scheduled at the bar at 1 this afternoon.

It's going to be a busy day for us. Deliveries at 1 p.m. Metropolis is holding their monthly meeting at the bar tonight at six. We normally open at 8 p.m. with live music starting around 9. Must remember to buy snacks.

The Way Out Club

We're lucky that our orders aren't huge today. I don't know if Bob planned it that way — fewer orders means more time for cleaning and making the bar look good — but I'll give him the credit. Then again, Bob always delights in telling me how he keeps J.I.T. inventory. Just In Time, a concept we both learned when we worked at Chrysler, meaning you don't keep a lot of product — liquor, food, tires, fenders, whatever — on hand, you order and receive it Just In Time.

We're getting a fence installed in the back of the bar, creating a small patio. The lead guy of the team building the fence tells me that one wall of the fence will have to be put inside facing out because of our neighbor's fence. I put on my Margaret Thatcher face and tell him that's not what the contract said. He walks away and makes a phone call. When he comes back, he tells me it'll be a little harder to do, but that it can be done the way it's supposed to.

The fence goes up really fast until they run out of boards for the last 8-foot section. Darn, I was hoping to have tables and chairs out there tonight.

Bob and I are working hard to clean the bar and stock it from all the deliveries. It's Bob's turn in the barrel; he'll do the bathrooms and I'll sweep and start mopping. People always ask us about a job as a bartender. We're waiting for the day that perfect person comes in and says, "I want to make your bar shine. I want to clean the toilets and empty the trash." That person will wear the crown at the Way Out.

It's an hour before Metropolis arrives. Need snacks. I run down to our neighborhood grocery, Food Land, for cheese doodles and ding-dongs. When I get back to the bar, Bob's finishing the last of the four toilets and wanting to talk about everything he found in them. It's interesting, really, but we've got to sweep the sidewalk. With Big Bite wrappers, unlucky lottery tickets and empty cigarette packs, our sidewalk is the trashcan of the 7-11. We put our two big palms outside — our welcome mat.

Back inside the bar, I'm sweeping the last pile of dirt and I notice a blank space on the wall. Oh no, someone's taken the big wood and orange plastic drum from the wall! And it had been screwed to the wall. I feel violated for a moment. Who and why, I want to know. Bob opines it was probably some drummer. A knock at the front door and it's time to open for business. No time to think about my missing junk. I'm glad I got up at 8 this morning. I've got some new junk to replace the old.

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