Last night I had an interesting conversation. I left work early, being the opening bartender on a night where my once typical crowd of cocktail enthusiasts were probably home watching cnn and considering their long term plans of financial savings, and I had dinner alone at the bar of a restaurant down the street. Next to me sat the overly flamboyant manager of some business located blocks away from my restaurant. He engaged me in conversation about random politics of the town in which we both reside, and in hearing that I was a bartender at one of the most prestigous restaurants in town, the topic of the global economic crisis inevetibly came up. He asked me, in an overtly skeptical way, whether or not I was personally being affected by the economic downfall. Being the honest man that I am ( for those of you who know me personally, please be kind ), I told him that I was in fact making significantly less money than I was a year ago. He then asked me the classic question that I have been asked over and over again by every ignorant fool who has had the luxury of keeping their job and salary throughout this situation, "Okay, well do you think it's just the media hype that is causing people to go out to restaurants less? I mean, I am still making the same money that I was last year, or the year before, and most people I know are still making the same money. It seems to me that everyone is just falling into this trap of freaking out because the news programs are telling us to."
Several months ago, perhaps, I would have taken that question seriously. I can actually remember a time in the not so distant past when I blamed Dan Rather, or whoever the fuck, for scaring people into not buying $16 glasses of wine from my bar. Ha.
Earlier today, as I was having a few cocktails(beers and shots of whiskey), I ran into one of my old regulars at a local dining and spirits establishment(shitty bar). He was drinking guiness and doing shots of jameson, as opposed to the expensive scotch and premier cru wines that I am used to seeing him ingest, and yelling obnoxiously about how he wanted to just get tanked because he couldn't deal with the fact that he just laid off a hundred or so employees from his company. He made ridiculous drunken claims, like it was all his fault, and that he had ruined the lives of countless families, and of course, talked about how much he loved everyone that had worked for him, "even the guys that swept the floors of my warehouse. I knew where they all lived, and I would bring bagels to their houses in the morning and meet their families. I thought of them as my families."
Yeah. So that sucks. As much as I hate being the guy who took this enormous pay cut as a bartender, I would hate even more to be the guy who feels guilty about drinking good scotch, even if he could obviously afford it, because of the people that he had to send to the unemployment line. Even more than that, I would hate to be the guy in the unemployment line. And even more than that, I would hate to be the ignorant fuck who is asking questions about the legitamite nature of this financial crisis to complete strangers, in a public place, just because his or her salary has not been compromised. Yeah dude, this stimulas plan, the unemployment rate, and the millions of families who are struggling to make normal human ends meet, are probably the result of some "hype" being sponsored by the media.