I had to crane my neck just to see his face. Were there people this tall? He must have been near eight feet. Aside from his height, he looked normal. Thin but not skinny, neat in appearance, clean cut, but slightly forbidding. He was intimidating enough to anyone shorter than him, but his expression seemed to say ‘mess with me and I will step on you’.
I was sitting on the floor, going through the books.
Being especially low to the ground, I felt unbelievably short. I decided to take charge of the situation and mustered up my most confident, authoritative voice.
“May I help you?”
He looked down as if he just then noticed that I was there.
“Oh! Yes! I’m here about the job.” His own voice wasn’t nearly as intimidating as the rest of him. That alone made me feel better, if not taller. I stood up, increasing my confidence.
“Great. You are?”
“Oh, uh, Nick. Nick Hortnorter.”
“Ok, Nick. I’m Robin, the owner. My partner, Crazy Angie is over there. I motioned to where she was inspecting a broom, no doubt looking for defects or some explanation as to its apparent malfunctions.
“You’re the owner?”
“Yes.” I said, trying not to sound annoyed while still sounding annoyed. He looked at me skeptically, as if I’d said the strangest thing he’d ever heard. I suppose it’s possible that me, a fifteen year-old telling, him that I was the owner of this bar might just be the strangest thing he’d ever heard, but I was determined to brush it off as though it were only natural for me to own a bar.
“You say that as if it sounds strange.”
“Oh, well, it’s just that I expected someone older.”
“I see. Well, I hope that’s not going to be a problem for you.”
“Oh, no ma’am. Not at all.”
Nick sounded to me like someone with uncharacteristically good manners. He was very polite and addressed me as his superior despite his height and apparent age.
“Well, then, shall we start the interview? Step right this way.” We walked over to the bar where I had planned to offer him a seat before I realized that there weren’t any. I walked around to the back, looking for paper. Finding none, I settled for a nearby napkin. Removing the pen I had lodged behind my ear, I prepared myself to write something. I hadn’t figured out just what yet, but I was sure that would come to me.
“So, Nick, tell me about your work experience. Have you worked in a bar before?”
“Oh, yes ma’am. I have a resume here detailing my experience.”
“Wonderful. That should be helpful.” I took the piece of paper he handed me and looked it over. It was actually quite impressive. He’d worked at several area bars, most of which I’d seen in passing. Having no idea as to what they were like on the inside, I didn’t consider myself to have any valuable knowledge of any of them, but at least I knew they were actual bars. “Hmm,” I said, trying to sound as if I was thinking something specific. “So, why did you leave your last job?”
“Oh, I was just there temporarily to help out with the busy seasons. I didn’t work a regular schedule—just filled in when they needed me.”
“Yeah, sure, like the playoffs, Superbowl, Sumo Wrestling Championships, the Daytime Emmy Awards—things like that.”
“I see.” I certainly did not see. I had no idea there would be busy seasons. It just then occurred to me what a valuable resource I had standing in front of me. This man had worked in several establishments such as my own. He probably knew more about the business than I did. He’d worked in several other bars and would likely have an idea as to how they were run and what sort of allowances to make. Still, I couldn’t hire him just yet. I had to at least make a pretense of interviewing him. I continued on with my questions.
“So, then you’re looking for something more stable?”
“Hmm. You’ve been a bartender at these establishments, correct?” He nodded. “What would you say is the most important thing about being a bartender?”
“Oh, well, you’ve got to know how to make everything and make sure you collect the tabs, keep the bar area clean—I guess there’s no one important thing. It’s all pretty important.”
Not bad. Good answer. Ok, now I had to think of something else to ask.
”When can you start?” It seemed like the most natural thing to ask, perhaps a bit premature, but natural.
“Uh, well, anytime really.”
“Great. How about tomorrow?”
“Fabulous! Be here by 9am. It’s gonna be a long day.”
“Really? Oh wow! Thanks a lot.” He was genuinely grateful and so was I, for that matter. I could see the possibility of this being my greatest business decision yet.