Well, California is on fire, and I’m back outside the Wolfhound breathing in all that terrible smoke through a filtered mask. Yes, I’m moonlighting at the bar I used to work at in 2015 . . . the last job I ever had in Oakland before I left to spend a dismal and forgettable year of absolute poverty in Portland.
Why am I doing this again? I guess I want to finally be able to save a little money, and do some reading. That’s really all there is to do outside on that stretch of San Pablo Avenue: read books. Thing is, everyone who comes outside to smoke will invariably start talking at you, even if you’ve got your head down in a book, and it’s miserable as hell. They always need someone to talk to, and I indulge them out of some misguided sense of diplomacy. I protect their feelings when they don’t care much about mine. It’s fine. It is, I have learned, just part of the job. If you’re a certain kind of person, you go to a bar to talk to the bartender or your neighborhood friends or even total strangers about what you got going on in your life, most of it being little sadnesses. And when you go outside to puff on a cigarette, you confide in the doorman, and tell him how lousy your life is, and reveal all your personal politics whether you mean to or not. Sometimes you say, “What book are you reading?” and then no matter what his (my) response is, you say, “Yeah, I read a book one time. It was pretty good.”
(Let’s not even start questioning the wisdom of smoking a cigarette while the city is engulfed in wildfire smoke, by the way. We’ll get way too depressed!)
I wrote an essay about being a doorman one time. I wonder what ever became of it. Maybe it wasn’t any good, and so I trashed it. I tend to do that. Oh well. It really doesn’t matter, truth to be told. It’s a boring job through and through, even when people are screaming in your face or tossing your book in the street, or racing out of the bar with a beer in their hand, or pissing on the wall, and on and on. You’re crowd control more or less. You just go around telling adults that they can’t do things they ought to have had enough sense to know they shouldn’t do in the first place. Sometimes they get angry. Sometimes they just sheepishly walk away. I like it when they do that more.
(Twice in this post I have used the second-person pronoun ‘you’ to describe both bar patron and doorman! Whoa~)
I’m not worried if anyone gets in my face anymore. I know the entire bar. Some of the bigger dudes have told me: “If anything happens, you come and get me.” Sometimes the other doorman, this big bastard named Chris, is already drinking at the bar even though it’s his night off. He told me no matter how drunk he gets he’ll come and help me push someone out the door. You can’t buy that kind of fealty! (Or is it more of a ‘fraternal bond’, given that we practice the same trade. . . ?)
Anyway: If you’re in the neighborhood come on by. It is such a joyless job, being a door sentry, but the money is too good to pass up. I already have a full-time job, though hell, I sure do show up at night and do this thing too. I feel like it keeps me out of trouble, and anyway like I said I get to read as well. I’m always worried I’m not reading enough. The other night I read half a book. I could have kept going and probably finished the whole thing, but I got so cold I had to get up and move around every so often to keep from freezing, and so it kind of screwed up my momentum. I need better winter clothes for this shit. It’s five god darn hours out there on the street, man. It is a lonely street. Please, for god’s sake, come keep me company.