The usual arrangement when I look after the pub is that I do the dayshifts and then sit upstairs watching back-to-back episodes of The Wire until called upon for help by whoever has agreed to do the evening shift. The hypocrisy I felt in running a business and telling staff what to do was balanced by the fact that I really like The Wire and my boss has the complete boxset.
But recently the usual order of things has been upset. When my boss took his family away this summer, I did my first dayshift and went upstairs excited to restart season 4. The boxset was gone. Turns out it was never his in the first place. He had just borrowed it from a friend and kept it for two years. During which time, I had looked after the pub only enough to times to view three seasons.
People think that if you run a pub then you spend all your time drinking. But it's nothing like that. I enjoy a drink in my free time, but when you run a pub you have no free time. But then who needs to drink when they have felt the joyous ecstasy of locking the bar door after the boors have bolted. The echoing silence of an empty pub after a raucous night. Slam the toilet windows shut. Kill the slot machine and the pool table lights at the socket. Double check the doors are locked, then tap each light-switch on a large panel of switches to its 'off' position until only the back bar is illuminated. Zed the till. It's 2am. Ten hours until opening time.
As if the disappearance of The Wire boxset wasn't enough to contend with, in my most recent stint of management I couldn't hang out in the flat upstairs at all. The pub had been adopted by an enormous group of Swiss students so I had to work the evening shift as well (this is referred to in the trade as an AFD - I'm sure you don't need me to spell out why).
The Swiss are a raucous bunch. Our ones I mean - the students who've been drinking in the pub - not the nation. I'm no tabloid journalist but even I know that the national characteristics to be ascribed to the Swiss include fastidious bank-accounting skills and devotion to accurate timekeeping. Not raucousness. But this lot are young enough to just want to get drunk and hook-up with each other. However, they do react with astonishment when the our British taxis don't arrive exactly when they say they will so there is hope for them yet.
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