Friday, December 02, 2005

On Duty

Nick was a better asset than I had ever imagined. He was a veritable library of research on this business. However, I was facing a tough decision about him. Should I try to get the information out of him indirectly, keeping my cards close, or should I trust him and tell him what I want to know and why I want to know it? Crazy Angie and I were in a delicate position. We didn’t exactly have the law on our side. True, we had the necessary paperwork and licensing and they were all legal, but it wasn’t exactly legal for us to have them. If we weren’t careful we could loose it all or even end up (GASP!) incarcerated. Trusting Nick could be dangerous. He would have quite a bit of leverage on us and could do serious damage. Still, we needed to open soon. We needed to get this thing going. I didn’t have time to develop trust or to winkle information out of him. I decided to consult my partner since it affected her too.
“Ok, we need to figure this out. What do you think of Nick?” I asked her.
“Hmmm.” She frowned and cupped her chin in her fingers, deep in thought. “I think he must wear large shoes, which suggest big feet.” She said it as though she was being especially insightful, which no doubt, she thought she was.
“Yes, I’m sure he has large feet. But what do you think of him as a person? Can we trust him?”
She paused. “Well, you must have thought so on some level or you would’t have hired him. So if you trust him, I trust him.” With that, she went back to her broom.
Crazy Angie is an amazement to me. Sometimes the things she says are so strange, they make me wonder if there’s even a brain in her head. Other times, she makes so much sense that I have to remind myself of her illness.
So that was it. Trust him. Grill him. Pick his brain. Make him assistant manager! What a brilliant idea!. Yes, that was it. Perhaps then he might not think my inquires so odd. Perfect!
The next morning, Nick arrived right on time. I decided to give him the grand tour first, which took all of ten minutes. I saved the lab for last so we could talk privately.
“Ok, Nick, here’s the deal. Our little bar here is part of an experiment. Crazy Angie and I are attempting to gid the cure for bredom. We’re convinced that this is it. “I paused for effect, also giving him time to soak it all in. “Unfortunately we have a few disadvantages. The most obvious is our age. How can two fifteen year olds have a bar? I must confess, I didn’t think we’d make it this far. But, luck has smiled on us and here we are. Luck aside, we still have the fact that neither of us have any clue how to run a bar Lets face it, we haen’t been to many bars in order to observe them. That’s where you come in.”
“Sure. You’ve done this sort of thing. You know whot it all works. You’re way ahead of us. That’s why we need you.”
“I’m not sure I understand. What exactly do you want me to do?”
“Teach me the bar business! Give me your insight. Let me know if I’m making a monumental mistake. Can you do that?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment. I suppose he was absorbing what I’d just said. I could understand his position. Try to picture it—here was a guy, about 24 years old, being hired by a teenager, eight years his junior. A sixteen year old asks him to teach her the bar business. It wasn’t exactly something that happens every day.
Finally, when he’d had a moment to think, “Yeah, sure I guess.”
We got started right away. Nick showed me the ins and outs of stocking the bar. Within a few hours we’d found a supplier and scheduled our first delivery. The rest of our day was spend ordering glasses and traditional bar snacks. They all sounded boring to me and I told Nick as much. We argued over it for a while. In the end, I pulled rank. It was my bar and we weren’t serving beer nuts. They’re boring. No potato chips, no corn chips, no pretzels—we’d have to come up with something better than that. I passed that chore onto Crazy Angie. She protested at first, insisting that she had her hands full with the drink menu, but when I promised to help her she gave in.
After the first day with Nick, I finally felt like I’d accomplished something. Over the next few days we were going to go over OSHA rules, accounting, business operation and the opening. As the days passed, things were really taking shape. By the end of June, the construction was finished, except for the bar stools. The Reverend had finished painting, our ar wa fully stocked and I felt like an old pro. Crazy Angie was hard at work in the lab, mixing and testing.
“Well Nick, are we ready?” I asked.
“Almost? What’s missing?” His face grew stern and serious. He looked at me—straight in the eye and with one word, made me understand his severity—

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