Updated: Jan 13, 2021
As always, it was my first day back to Bub City after a long absence. It was decided that I work the end of the shift in the bar where it wouldn’t be so busy on my first shift back.
I was given a table with the last two diners of the night who placed their orders and dinner drinks just in time for last call: two burgers, fries and beer.
I placed the order at the terminal and went to find a bartender when one of the female staff approached and introduced herself telling me that things had changed quite a bit since I last worked there and that we had to pour our own beer.
So, I grabbed two large glass beer mugs and just as I was about to begin filling them, the young woman rushed over and stopped me. Apparently, there was this new procedure of rinsing the glasses before filling them and she kindly showed me how to do it. It was a strange routine that involved first thoroughly “sweeping” the inside of the glass with what was akin to a branch with dry leaves infused with some aromatic, floral oils. Then I had to submerge the glass, by holding it awkwardly upside down, into a metal, pail-like container filled with a blue liquid I assumed was some kind of disinfectant.
She did the first one as an example and let me try the second one. When I had finished, she took both glasses and placed them into a dirty dishes tub and told me to start again, but “for real” this time, which I found a bit frustrating and a waste of time as my customers had been waiting for their drinks.
A few minutes later, my guests called me over to the table where I had noticed they polished off their beers in record time and asked for another round. As their burgers had just been served—and noticing my pesky co-worker to be nowhere in sight—I decided to bypass the glass preparation ritual and simply pour the beer directly into the frosty mugs I removed from the cooler. Just then, another unknown colleague came by and caught me in the act, asking if I knew about the glass preparation policy, offering to show me how it was done. I told her I used to work there and she said she had guessed that by my age and the fact I was wearing an old uniform with an old logo.
Just as I was about to pour the beers, the entire restaurant staff began pouring into the bar as their shift was over and they were eager to greet me. The first two to approach me were John Frebes, Edgard Silva and someone who spoke to me in Spanish though I didn’t recall remembering who the young man was.
Then I woke up.
[PHOTOS: Edgard Silver and me. Bub City, Chicago, December 1994]