How hazardous this business

I’m not entirely sure why, but we all worry about Pete. Probably because he’s the smallest and youngest of us at the Bar (strangely, although we’re more protective of her, we worry less about Mariel), but maybe it’s because he’s also the nicest.

JP, Garth, Tyler — they’re all scrappers (Tyler less so these days, but still…). They love to get physical. I’ve seen many nights where Garth is all but itching for a fight to start in his vicinity. It’s dangerous, sure, but that’s maybe why he’s behind the bar instead of working the door these days. Better to have his hands full of beer cases and clean glasses than working the security angle.

Jason and I — perhaps due to age, or experience — are less apt to fight. Not that we won’t or haven’t, but only if we don’t have options. Pete’s the same way. He’s not afraid — I’ve seen him step into the middle of two guys who both towered well over him and had enough alcohol in them to make logic and reason as incoherent and unintelligible as their pickup lines were. He’s just quiet, unassuming — and damn it, nice. I don’t say that in a bad way, I should add.

Garth and Pete are the first ones that people tend to turn on at Bailey’s. If surrounded by the six of us (sorry, Mariel, but I’m leaving you behind the bar for this), they’re the smallest of the two. And the other night, there was a guy who had the option of turning to face me or Pete, and he chose Pete. Words commenced, and it was here that I saw Pete’s only problem: inside a bar, late at night when the alcohol has already flowed freely, talk gets one chance, and then it’s gotta go outside.

And so as I hear Pete telling Joe Schmuck that if he’s gonna give him grief about leaving, then he can say it to his face — that’s the point where I start to put the drink that I’m making down and head for Pete’s position, surrounded as he is by what may be innocent bystanders or possibly friends of the Schmuck. Before my glass hits the bar, and before Jason can head out (well, over is really the direction that Jason takes) from behind the back bar, Garth zips by, a flash of blue jeans and black tshirt and cigarette still hanging from his mouth. Schmuck has an arm behind his back and — to quote Garth, at least — is being led out to the sidewalk by his mop of hair.

Jason and I laughed. It was funny. You have to trust me on this one.

It’s moments like this, though, that make me feel ultimately comfortable in my bar (not to mention the sheer volume of regulars on any given night that will stand behind us in a tense situation). No matter what happens, no matter what goes down, I think that any one of us (including Mariel, thank you) is more than capable of taking care of not only ourselves but each other. And there’s a good balance, too — not just between the readiness to jump into the fray, but among personalities, as well.

I thought about this today because my sister asked how I was enjoying my return to the world of bars, and it made me think about the past jobs I’ve had, the past crews I’ve run with, the past contexts. All things considered, I can’t imagine ever working a better bar with a better group of folks. I’ve certainly never done so in the past.

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