The Bartender’s Contribution
If there’s one place you’ll end up seeing just about everything in, it’s a bar. It’s where you’ll see people at their highest and lowest. It’s also where someone may find an idea. Oftentimes, bartenders double as stand-in shrinks. They can say the exact right advice to get the gears of inspiration spinning in someone’s head and this story will begin with such a person.
Quincy Spence was a relatively simple man. If there was a word to describe him, it would be methodical. Wake up early, stretch, exercise for an hour, get ready, go to work, go home, do whatever for a bit, and then go to bed. Rinse and repeat. That isn’t to say, he didn’t diverge from his schedule ever once in a while.
It’s more that he never did so unless prompted by outside forces. His profession was managing the dive bar that had belonged to his family since the 40s. It was first opened by his great grandfather who eventually showed his son how to run it. Then he showed his son how to run it. Then finally, he showed Quincy to find it.
The exception to that finally being if he decides to or ends up having kids of his own who want to get involved with the family business. For him, he didn’t see any point in pursuing any other career paths when there was already an established business he could run. He’d gotten the hang of it pretty quick and began working there under his dad’s supervision at eighteen. Although, he received training for the job before then. Something happened to him two months after his twentieth birthday that would change his life forever.
His dad passed away. He found out by receiving a call from his mother in the middle of the night. The news, of course, hit him hard. Usually, when someone is in some type of grief, it’s their bartender they’ll vent to, provided they can’t afford a shrink. If that’s the case, who do bartenders go to when they are feeling that way? Other bartenders?
Perhaps. Then again if they’re making enough money, they can see a therapist occasionally. The issue with that is, finding the time to make an appointment. Quincy was not in such a position and for the most part dealt with the death by putting his nose to the grindstone. It was only during the times he was alone did the reality of the situation really dawn on him.
Quincy never cried, but he did fall into slumps of depression. He never resorted to drinking away his grief. His dad warned him early on about that.
His words to him were, “If you drink every time something bad happens, you’ll end up like your poor bastard of a great-granddad”.
The same one who started the business drank himself the death sometime in his early forties. Quincy heeded that advice and kept his drinking to a minimum. Shortly after his dad’s funeral, he met four people that assisted him significantly with coping with his loss. It wasn’t that they were super friendly or gave him some profound wisdom that put everything into perspective. Rather, the way they helped him can be described with the following question.
Have you ever seen someone so miserable that it instantly made you feel better about any problems you were dealing with? If your answer to that is no, then clearly you haven’t met people like them. For a long while, they didn’t really engage with him beyond ordering drinks and snacks. From listening to their conversations, Quincy realized they were siblings. The female among them exuded a sort of bear trap beauty.
It was the kind where if you asked her out, the chances of her saying yes would be less than a snowball’s chance in hell. She wouldn’t be mean about it. However, the rejection would stick with you for quite some time. Quincy knew this and therefore kept his relationship with her mostly professional. Her brothers could be described as handsome in a similar way. Their appearances are hard to pin down.
I say mostly because it is known that regulars of a bar tend to get familiar with their bartender. It was a slow process, taking over a year before she and her brothers really began talking with him. They always came in an hour before closing every Saturday and Sunday. What was odd was that the bar would never have any other customers during this time. It was as if there was some unspoken rule that during that duration of time, they were the only ones allowed to be in the bar.
Quincy stood, cleaning the dishes and every so often checking his phone for the time. When the time changed to one, he glanced at the door. Sure enough, in stepped his four familiars. They were looking more down than usual which was saying a lot.
“I take it you’ll be wanting something stronger than usual tonight?” He said to them.
“You’d be right about that,” the woman, Jo, replied.
“And a lot of it,” her brother, Gabe added. “Jeremey, Mike, what do you guys want?”
They too said they wanted the hard stuff and so Quincy served them each a shot fo whiskey.
“No, the hard stuff,” Jo emphasized.
“Wow,” Quincy replied. “That bad huh?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.”
He got out the strongest drink in the bar, Spirytus Stawski which contains ninety-six percent alcohol.
“Are you sure about this?” Quincy asked them. “I’ve seen just a sip from this stuff put down men the size of a garbage truck.”
“We’ll know when we’ve had enough,” Jeremey said.
“Yeah, now pour our drinks,” Mike ordered.
Quincy shrugged and then poured them each a shout. Another thing noteworthy to mention is that of all the customers, they were the ones who could handle their drinks the best. He chalked this up to them simply having strong genes. Truth be told, he wasn’t far off. They’d already each been through four shots by the time he figured he should see what was making them so glum.
“Just out of curiosity, what exactly do people like you have to be upset about?” He inquired.
“What do you mean like us?” Jo replied, a little offended at the question. “Do you think just because we’re pretty that means we don’t have problems like everyone else?”
“That’s not what I meant, but I have a feeling the ones you all have are a bit unique.”
“You’d be right about that. If you must know, we actually have connections all over the world.”
“And what do you do?”
Quincy poured them more shots, preempting them ordering more and hoping to get them drunk enough to indulge in otherwise well-kept information. Normally, he wouldn’t pry. However, there was something about them that made one curious. If you saw them, you would get the sense that they’d been everywhere and could tell you plenty of stories about various places they’d been to.
It wasn’t only that. It was also their eyes. Despite their young appearances, they held glints of wisdom that could only be acquired from years of experience.
“We’re mostly in communications and security,” Gabe explained. “It’s not an easy job we can tell you that.”
“I’m at the head of it,” Mike said, drunkenly proud.
“Why dad thought putting you in charge was a good idea, I’ll never know,” Jo told him.
“Wait, you work for your dad?” Quincy said.
“He has eyes everywhere,” Jeremey told him, grabbing a handful of pretzels to snack on.
“Yeah, but today is one of his days off.”
“Is it your day off too?”
“No. technically we’re still on duty. We come here to take a break before getting back to work.”
“Why here? Just wondering.”
“It’s quiet. Plus your drinks really hit the spot.”
Quincy glanced at his phone. Only ten minutes had gone by since they entered the bar. What was odd, is that it felt a lot longer. This would’ve seemed strange to anyone else. However, this was a phenomenon that he’d gotten used to.
He decided it was better not to question it. After all, the more time they spent there, the more drinks they ordered. As long as they didn’t go overboard, who was he to try and stop more money coming into the bar?
“If you all don’t like it, why not change jobs? I mean, you seem like you can afford to.”
Mike laughed, taking another shot.
“Because if we don’t do this, nobody else will.”
“I see. Well, have you thought of…Forming some kind of union?”
They all stared at him blankly.
“You know. A union?”
“No, we don’t,” Jo replied. “What is that?”
Quincy was puzzled at that briefly. He chalked it up to them, simply not having much of a concept of it where they are from. That was something he’d been trying to guess. Their accents suggested they were definitely from out of the country. Yet he couldn’t think of anywhere with people that talked similar to them.
He explained the definition to them as best he could. He was by no means an expert on the subject.
“I have a friend who’s part of one. He says it’s helped a lot.”
“So basically we refuse to work until we get treated fairly ?” Mike asked.
“That’s the sum of it. It’s no guarantee, but it might work. Although, it might get complicated with your boss being your dad.”
“Still, I think it would be worth a shot,” Jeremey said. “Actually, now that I think about it, our brother tried something similar once. It didn’t work out well, though.”
“How big is your family anyway?”
“We have relatives all over the world. We even have some brothers and sisters who work in The Middle East.”
“What do they specialize in?”
“Gardeneing and security.”
Quincy glanced at his phone again. This time it read half an hour to closing.
“Are you going to need any more drinks?”
They replied for him to keep them coming. He decided to get the rest of the dishes done as they were talking amongst themselves. He couldn’t hear most of it. However, he could make out some parts.
“Do you think this could work?” Gabriel asked. “I don’t want to end up like Lou.”
“It might,” Jo replied. “I think we’ll need help, though. The question is, who would be right for this?”
“What about Sam?” Mike suggested.
“Sam?” Jeremey said. “I haven’t seen him in a while. Do you think he’d be willing to help?”
“I think there’s a chance if we can get a hold of him.”
“Then I suggest we get on that as soon as possible.”
When closing time came, at last, they made sure to leave a generous tip. What was unusual after, is that during the next few months, they didn’t visit the bar. For some reason during that time, Quincy saw a sharp increase in the number of customers he received. Part of him wondered how things were going for Mike and the others. He hoped it was going well.
The downside to getting more business is that it means having to do more work. Quincy considered himself the workhorse type. However, even he can only take so much. He felt he could use a vacation. The problem was that he was the only one running the bar. As he was pondering this while cleaning the last of the dishes, someone came in.
“Hey, sorry,” he told them without looking. “I’m about to close, but if you want I can pour you a quick beer.”
“I’m not here for that, Quincy.”
This prompted him to turn around. Standing before him was a man who seemed oddly familiar.
“Then why are you here?”
“I understand you’ve become familiar with my brothers and sister?”
“Oh, yeah. How did the whole unionization thing go?”
“It wasn’t easy. We can tell you that. Our father is quite stubborn. Fortunately, we were able to make him concede.”
“How’d you manage that?”
“By convincing him that if he were to replace us, it would eventually lead to the same outcome. He didn’t want to deal with it so he agreed we’d be getting two days off.”
“Good going. Is there anything else you have to tell me?”
The man stepped closer. Looking into his eyes, Quincy got an intense feeling of awe.
“I’ve come to take over for a bit. After all, you’ve been meaning to take a vacation for a little while now. Right?”
“How did you…?”
“I have my ways and besides it’s obvious from the way you look. Maybe those circles under your eyes will clear up in the meantime.”
Quincy considered his words.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’d appreciate it, but have you ever worked in a bar?”
“I know a thing or two about mixing drinks.”
He gestured to some of them behind the counter.
“Be my guest.”
The man skillfully blended a martini with the skill of someone with decades of experience.
“Well, I guess we’re good then. Why do you want to do this, though?”
“Honestly, it’s a bit too quiet back home and while my brothers and sisters enjoy that, I prefer to keep myself busy. Do you mind if hire some people while you’re gone?”
“If they’re right for the job.”
“Don’t worry. I have an eye for quality. Anyway, enjoy your vacation.”
Quincy nodded and headed for the door. Something dawned on him when he opened it.
“Hey, I never got your name.”
The man now stood behind the contour, cleaning the dishes. He faced him.
The name seemed familiar somehow. In fact, all their names did in some manner he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Where had he heard them before? He shrugged, figuring that the answer to that was less important than enjoying some well-deserved time off.