September 1st, 2022
Today is my two-year anniversary at Harry’s.
(This is not a photo of us celebrating my anniversary. This is from a wedding a few weekends ago where I was the minister-bartender. Barnister? Minitender.)
In 2020, a lot of people lost a lot.
I lost more than I ever had in any other year of my life.
In the spring of that year, I lost my job of almost thirteen years at Old Chicago. I’ve talked about my “ex” a lot, but it’s fine and isn’t the kind of talk to inspire jealousy, because she’s dead.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do past that. I considered leaving the industry. (I work in an industry where I consider leaving the industry every day.) Over the summer, I scanned the job sites and would occasionally throw a line to a job I wasn’t qualified for.
As fall approached, I decided to get serious and I put in an application to just two restaurants.
Harry’s was one of them.
My interview went very well; the current GM there worked with my former GM at OC. I don’t know what he said (but knowing Joe, it was at least half sarcasm); instead of calling me the following week, I got a call that day and I was hired.
Two years ago today.
Two weeks later, my sister called. Something was wrong with my mom.
Exactly one month after that call, I lost her, too.
I think about this all the time. What happened next could have gone a million different ways. I could have run. I could have closed myself off and built walls a hundred feet high. I could have disappeared.
Instead, these weirdos at Harry’s held onto me as hard as they could.
When I got back to work, my co-worker Kelvin said simply, “I’m glad you’re here,” and it was most comforting thing I ever heard; they became the four words I use the most when someone tells me they lost someone, usually followed by two more: “It sucks.”
This group of people had the unenviable task of meeting me at my best and my worst; we’ve spent the last two years working in an industry that is perhaps the hardest it’s been in decades. Within just a few months, the rollercoaster of the pandemic turned my serving job into bartending and then rose into management, too; I’m not great at any one job, but I can do many of them.
And I would rather do this with nobody else. My friends are bright and charming and obnoxious and strong and kind and stupidly funny and I get to be one of them, with them on their best and worst days, too.
Okay, I’m done talking now. Get back to work.