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.


Published by dennisvogen

I'm me, of course. Or am I?

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