Five to nine

Have a drink.

December 17, 2004

The trade in attention

A few weeks ago I had the fortune of working behind a bar with a new face. Whenever working with a new colleague, I always err on the side of caution and over-direct the show. At some point he asked why i thought he needed so much direction, i explained to him that I was just being conservative. He told me that he was a career bartender, and all this was second nature to him. He was 50 and didn't look it, and had been keeping bar for thirty years now. Goddamn I said! He still had all his hair, and had it dyed jet black. He kept showing me a picture of how fat he used to be so that I'd be impressed at how much weight he'd lost, and telling me about all the broadway plays he'd been in.
My original skepticism about his talents and intentions returned near the end of the night, when he left me to take care of the (admittedly short) line of customers while he shamelessly flirted with a comely old matron who was drunk and very taken with his age and appearance. it occurred to me that he was not a career bartender, rather a career failure at something else. Despite his adequate mixing skills, he didn't understand one of the basic principles of bar-tending. We are not just here to serve your drinks. We are also (sometimes especially) here to trade that most valuable of our human commodities. Attention. While you're at the bar, you should feel like the bartender is looking at you, liking what he sees, and happy to be there lavishing you with attention, so that the one moment when i pick up the cocktail napkin, hug your glass with it and hand it to you with a smile, you may as well be the only person on earth cause no one else is getting this drink right now. And we do not go unrewarded for our efforts. Every time I get you your drink, for those 30-90 seconds it's gonna take me to prepare it, I have that feeling that for now, only I have the thing you want. These feelings add up, like good tips. Now, to chit chat with a bored partygoers at a slow or empty bar is one thing. Part o'the job, as they say. But to demand the attention of a specific customer while ignoring your bar is a severe dereliction of duty, and an abuse of whatever power is bestowed upon you by the booze.
The bar as a microcosm of human societies as a whole works real well here. Take a minute to think about what category of person you fall into, and appraise what your attention is worth.
Beautiful, charming young woman: It's worth your weight in gold. Wether you know it or not, your attention is what makes the whole world go round and round! The desire for your attention is what has motivated mankind to work and produce from day one. Like the song says, "This is a man's world, but it wouldn't be nothing, without a woman or a girl" or the much less eloquent, but no less right on the money mister dave chapelle "If a man could fuck a woman in a cardboard box, HE WOULDN"T BUY A HOUSE!"
beautiful young woman: Almost as valuable as the former, but only in the short run. And as we all know, solid investments require time to grow. Getting your attention is important, but keeping it, less so.
confiden't wealthy man Once upon a time, survival was not guaranteed to the masses, and you were at the very top of the list. the world is different now, and the womenfolk can provide for themselves, still we have evolved faster than our neandarthal pre-dispositions, and there's still a lot to be said for the lasses who want you to like them best of all.
Pretty woman How much longer can you keep it up? looking good like that? the uncertainty will lower your stock.
Wealthy woman: This is a tough one. They intimidate me personally, but that's just cause I'm not much of a man. They're more of a niche market.
Horny, uncouth bums Fuckers like that are a dime a dozen and everyone is sick and tired of meeting them. They don't inspire anyone to do anything of value, and they'd better have some good "game" (i.e. sexual trickery) if they want the attention of anyone who matters to anyone else.
Unattractive women: Sorry ladies, you know where I'm going with this one.


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