Saturday, October 24, 2009

They served wine at the Last Supper, right?

I work at the liquor store. Stores actually. I manage a small chain of liquor stores that are owned by members of my family. It is a good job and I enjoy it 95% of the time. But oh, that 5% can make you want to drain a shelf or two.

On the surface it seems like it would be a fun job. Bag a little beer, push a little wine, recommend a quality scotch. The reality doesn’t go down quite so smoothly. In this state it is illegal to sell alcohol between 3:00 am and 7:00am. So naturally we have a store that opens at 7:00. And every morning there will be customers standing outside at 7:00. In the morning. Before sun-up. Yikes.

Now a few of these souls will be night-shift workers looking to relax at their version of 5 o’clock happy hour. I get that. But others, trembling, shuffling, twitchy others will be looking for something to make the bad go away. My heart goes out to them and their struggle.

The next few hours will be filled with the unemployed, the retirees, the wives shopping for the weekend, the construction guys rained out for the day. They are familiar faces and some have become friends. I moved to this small town for this job after my divorce. I was the stranger that was in charge of their beer. It took awhile but I earned their trust and learned their favorite jokes.

It’s been over three years now, and a few times I have been confronted by outraged people for my career choice. I’ve been accused of poisoning the community, and instigating the downfall of others. One woman publicly accused me of being the reason her uncle died, despite the fact that I have never poured a drink down another person’s throat. (The exception would be that one time in college when we invented a drinking game that involved shot glasses and nudity, but that’s a whole different story. And I was drunk. And possibly nude. And no persons or animals were harmed in the playing of that game.)

I see my regulars at Wal-Mart, the gas station, sitting on the bleachers at the local middle school basketball game. Rarely am I greeted in these situations. Why? Because no one wants to admit that they are in the liquor store often enough that the employees know them or their lives. They won’t admit to their friends or their preacher that I know the names of their kids, that their boss is on vacation or that their wife just had her bunions removed. I get it. I hate it, but I get it.

To the few that greet me warmly and ask about my family, thank you. To the self righteous soccer moms that sneer through the windows of their SUVs as I pick my kids up from practice wearing a shirt with a beer logo on the front – fuck you, Barbie.


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