The 45 minute drive through Houston traffic to Shamrocks, the Irish pub I where I work, seems to be the most relaxing part of my day at times. When life gets stressful, working in such a welcoming place seems to be the perfect fix after such a long day. This may not be your average person’s idea of a typical job, but after a long day of school and being a mother to two young boys who are filled with energy, working in this pub with coworkers who are more like family is the perfect escape from my everyday routine. I get to experience new and exciting things everyday working with great people while I can provide for my family at the same time.
I love when I drive up to work and the parking lot is still empty, and the only cars there are my coworkers. That means we get some time to talk before the rush starts. When I walk into the dark pub I’m usually greeted by Siri with another funny story about her oldest son. I feel like we can relate with each other so well, both being mothers to young boys with crazy schedules. We always end up caught up in conversation, exchanging stories of our days and making dates to get together with our kids when we realize we should be getting ready for work. Arthur, our manager, likes us to get to work right away even if were early for our shift, so we take our conversations straight to the break room to get ready. Its takes us a while to get “work ready” so it’s good that we always arrive early. He would probably love it if we came to work wearing our kilts already, but we wouldn’t be caught outside of work wearing them. In public we would probably get so many weird stares wearing our kilts but at work its necessary to wear for our uniform to be complete and we fit the look of working in an Irish pub.
Once we’re all ready, with our hair and makeup done, it’s time to get to work. The bartenders start setting up the bar for the night, making sure the beer tubs are fully stocked with ice and beer, the glasses are clean, and the margarita machine is turned on. And the waitresses get the floor and tables ready, all the menus must be clean and wiped down, the ice bin full, and there has to be plenty of silverware rolled. Meanwhile, the cooks, Victor and Jaime, are also getting ready for the night, they have to start prepping the food. While they prep one of us girls always try and convince them to make us something to eat. Since it’s an all-female staff that’s always pretty easy. We also use the excuse that we need energy for the rest of the night so we must have something to eat. We put in all kinds of crazy orders, but they always end up making us the same thing, a plate of Cajun lemon pepper buffalo wings. At least they put our favorite sauce and make them extra crispy just how we like. We all have to do our part to make sure the pub is perfect in order to have a good night, it’s really a team effort. Slowly the crowd starts to come in.
Our first guest is almost always Ms. Michelle. She’s at Shamrocks so much she has a special glass just for herself that she leaves at the bar. She’s also friends with our owner, and a business owner herself, so she’s always there with a new client on a lunch date, or just working on her laptop enjoying her glass of chardonnay. When she’s sitting at the bar it’s never quiet, even though she’s a very successful woman that doesn’t stop her from being loud and sometimes crazy after a few glasses of wine. There’s never a dull moment with Ms. Michelle around. Even when she comes in alone she has no problem making friends with our other customers, telling them all kinds of crazy erotic stories. With her being so comfortable with herself it makes all our other guests feel the same way and once the liquor starts flowing everybody is talking to everybody and the music slowly begins to take control of the night.
Our Saturday nights are always the busiest. First we get a dinner rush which usually consists of families enjoying dinner or guys just getting off of work wanting an ice cold beer. The dinner rush is always pretty calm and quiet with the juke box playing whatever the guest want. Sometimes they can get upset when we’re short staffed and it’s a really busy night. But when it gets really busy our guests aren’t the only ones who get upset the cooks do also. Victor, our cook, always reminds us to tell our customers not to order the Shepherd’s pie. That’s his least favorite thing to prepare, but staff telling the customers not to order a certain item doesn’t look good, and I’m sure our manager Arthur wouldn’t like that. When they choose to order it the cooks and I always bump heads. And once in a while we have guests that send food back because it wasn’t prepared how they like, Victor gets so upset with that also. Especially when they send back a steak to be cooked longer. We can both agree on our steaks being cooked medium rare, but we always have some customers that are disgusted with any pink in their steak and would prefer it cooked well done, or dry, like Victor and I call it.
After the dinner rush, our DJ sets up and we get the party crowd. The music is so loud at this point, you can barely hear each other without yelling, but the whole staff has practically mastered reading lips so it’s not an issue for us, our guests are having a great time laughing, dancing, and of course drinking. Couples start making out in front of everybody, and the quiet lady who first appeared very shy and reserved is now the best one on the dance floor. As long as the guest are having a good time the staff is also. Then the attitudes come out. We always have at least one guest that has an issue with how long the food takes. I think it’s because the alcohol. When they order food almost five minutes later they complain about how long it’s taking but I don’t think most of them realize it’s only been five minutes. Working with customers that can sometimes be rude is part of the job and is something that the rest of the staff and I always expect. But we all work together to make sure they don’t get too crazy. Some guests try and drink more than they should by alternating between the bartenders and waitresses to try and get the most drinks or shots possible.
We can usually tell when somebody is becoming too intoxicated so it doesn’t become a big issue, and we also have our security Dorian to help with situations like that. When I asked him how he would handle that situation he said it’s usually easy for him because it’s his job to keep an eye on customers who start to act differently. He also said since he’s usually one of the biggest guys in the bar most guests don’t have a problem leaving if he asks them to leave. Also, the staff getting along so well with each other helps a lot too on crazy nights. We work in sync to attend to every single guest making sure they have the best experience possible and keep coming back while making sure they don’t get to drunk. When that happens they don’t notice what they’re doing because they’re so intoxicated and when it’s time to pay the tab some people forget to tip. Or worse, they can become so drunk that they won’t be able to drive themselves home.
We can always tell which ones are the most drunk by the way they act. Their dancing becomes offbeat or sometimes drinks begin to spill. That’s when we must let each other know not to serve that guest anymore or make sure their friends don’t sneak them any drinks. Either we give them water or offer them some chips to sober up. Usually the most drunken guests are with friends that help them home so it’s never became a big issue.
By the end of the night, I’m so exhausted and sometimes question how relaxing the job is, but when I hear the DJ announce last call, I feel a sudden sense of relief and have another burst of energy. At this point, the crowd knows it’s their last chance to order something to drink before we close for the night. Instead of rushing to serve them I’m rushing to close out all my tabs and clean up.
The lights turn on, and all there is in sight are empty beer bottles, dirty plates, and glasses all over the empty tables and the crowd slowly making its way towards the exit. We all hurry up and wipe all the tables and push the chairs back in place. And once again make sure the beer is stocked, glasses clean, and silverware rolled, making it look like nobody was ever there at all. After everything is clean, we all sit down at the empty bar to count our tips and of course tip out the bartenders, bus boy and bar back. We laugh and exchange stories about our different customers throughout the night. The whole staff smells like alcohol and were more than ready to go home and shower but we still can’t help to talk, more like laugh at our crazy nights. Leaving work, we always feel satisfied knowing we all worked together and the night turned out to be a good one and we always leave ready to come back again.