Setting the Scene
Let me try and actually explain what Groovy Spoons actually looks like.
It is a predominately brown place. Wooden floor, wooden bar, wooden wall panels, wooden chairs, wooden tables, wooden doors, with brown leather sofas, and ugly yellow drink menus. There aren't more than four matching chairs in the whole joint, just an ugly mismatch of different styles and sizes.
One wall is covered in butterfly wallpaper and another is covered with Che Guevara wallpaper, which is very odd given that Groovy Spoons has no obvious connections to coloured insects or guerrilla warfare.
There is a large wall-mounted television for football matches or news coverage, which is usually played on a weeknight to distract from the misery. However, it is never put on with volume, or with subtitles, so its pretty pointless anyway. But another head-scratching occurrence is that the television sometimes gets left on after the pub/club transition. Most recently, Run Fatboy Run on the TV, while people were getting drunk and doing embarrassing dancing. It's all very strange.
There is a large sign out front that reads 'Groovy Spoons: Bar, Venue, Grill.' However, it hasn't been a grill in about three years. I asked Baz why they don't do food anymore and he told me that the chef won the euro-millions and left and they just never hired a new one.
The cellar is another atrocious part of Groovy Spoons. It looks as if it has never been cleaned, there are enormous piles of things stacked on top of each other, and the floor is constantly wet from a mystery dripping of a mystery liquid. On top of all that, the ceiling is very low. I'm a tall-ish man, so when I go down there, I have to do my best Quasimodo impression, so I don't lose my head altogether. It's not easy lifting up and carrying a crate full of bottled beer when you can't stand up straight.
Dodging a Bullet
T'was a quiet Sunday evening, and all was peaceful. The place was almost empty; I had the company of just a few sad middle-aged men, who were staring silently into their pints wondering where their lives went wrong.
One of these men was Builder Matt. Builder Matt is, you guessed it, a builder, and often comes in after a long day of building and stares silently into his pint of Carling. But, in all fairness, he is a pretty nice bloke, and he has a very infectious little chuckle.
I was behind the bar doing the crossword and in walks the most repulsive woman I had ever seen. She must have been mid-thirties and it looked as if she had never showered in her entire life. And it smelt as if she had never showered in her entire life.
"CAN I USE YOU TOILET?" She bellowed at me.
This is a situation I'm often very uncomfortable with, because official policy is that the toilets are for customers only, but I sometimes think it cannot matter and it's not my bar so why should care? But I muttered the official line "Sorry, it's for customers only." She continued to stare at me and suddenly Builder Matt chimes in with a big "IT'S ONLY FOR CUSTOMERS." This took me completely by surprise, as I could not see the foundation of his aggression. Sure she was very smelly, but I felt like he had gone a bit too far.
The woman gave him a very mucky look and then promptly left. This encounter had captured the attention of all the sad middle-aged men and the weirdness of the situation hung in the air, just like her smell. It was at that moment that Builder Matt realised nobody knew her story, so he looked up at me and simply stated "Last time she came in here, she shit on the floor."
Wow. I was hit with a wave of emotions; shock, relief, amusement. The men around the bar all had a little chuckle, a brief break from the miserable pint-staring. I just laughed it off too, but if Builder Matt wasn't there, I could've been scooping a big shit off the floor.
Due to the place's unpleasantness, staff don't tend to stick around for very long, so I have had quite a number of colleagues. Some aren't really worth telling you about, they're just nice people who ended up at Groovy Spoons and, like me, are completely out of their depth. I call these people 'the innocents.' Whereas there are some people who fit right in, and here are just a few.
Neil is a recent addition to the workforce. I am 85% sure he is a robot. He is very polite, very well spoken, and seems to have no emotion. I thought this was all fine and manageable; I'd rather work with a pleasant robot than a rude human. But one night, I was serving a woman some drinks, and she asked me, "Do you know Neil's backstory?" I thought it was an odd way to phrase it, but I was intrigued. But that intrigue quickly turned to fear when she told me that he was fired from his old job because a police helicopter was called out to a big field to arrest him for having a 'dangerous weapon.' She didn't tell me what weapon, and it's unclear whether I can completely trust her on it, but I am now very cautious of Neil.
Sarah is a veteran of Groovy Spoons, she has been working there seemingly from birth. She is a nice enough person, however she seems to have no idea about boundaries when it comes to sharing taboo information. For example, on a quiet Friday night, she looked at me and casually said "Did anal for the first time last night." What exactly does one respond to a statement like that? I was speechless. The only word I managed to force out was "congratulations." But instead of reading my discomfort, she continues with, "Yeah, I wasn't even expecting it. I haven't been able to sit down all day." I just nodded in agreement. Thankfully a customer came to the bar and I have never moved so fast to do work.
Similarly, she showed me a dick-pic that someone had sent her and it was the first time I'd ever seen someone impressed with a dick-pic. She then gave an eyebrow wiggle and said "I'm having that tonight."
Lucy was the person who trained me at Groovy Spoons. She was about five feet tall and could never shut up. She would talk and talk and talk, and I wouldn't be able to hear a word of it because of the loud music and the fact my ears were so far away from her head, because she was so short. I would just nod along and hope she was saying something nod-able. Lucy found out she was pregnant while she was on a shift and she texted her mum to tell her, but her mum didn't believe her until she sent a selfie with the pissy pregnancy test.
You'd think that becoming pregnant would stop you from smoking, given all the risks smoking brings to your growing child, however Lucy got very offended whenever people said she shouldn't be smoking and was proud of the fact she cut smoking 10-a-day down to 5-a-day. That poor unborn child.
Michelle is someone who just couldn't hack it. She quit after only three shifts and I can't really blame her. I'm not too bothered that she left though, because she did smell very unpleasant, like old sweaty socks. So much so that my manager, Kieth, came over to me once and childishly said "Don't you think Michelle smells?"
I like to think that I am one of the 'innocents,' however it's very possible that I'm one of the weirdos as well and that I've been at Groovy Spoons too long.
Quote of the Night
"Yeah, my baby's dad is dead."
- A woman, speaking very casually, to her friend.
There is a very odd man, called Robert, who comes in every Friday and Saturday without fail. He is stick-thin, spikes up what little hair he has left, and always has lovely painted fingernails. He looks like if Dracula were an ageing 80s pop star. Robert always buys a glass bottle of Coke and drinks through a straw. He has the most consistent and odd dance I've ever seen, which the power of words cannot do justice, but I will certainly try:
He spreads his feet about two feet apart, leans forward slightly, but arches his back to stick his bum out, then makes his hands into fists while keeping his thumbs half sticking up, and then sways his arms from side to side, in the opposite rhythm to wiggling his bum. It really is a sight to behold.
But the funniest thing about Robert is his job. He comes out on a weekend and sticks on the Coca-Cola, because he is absolutely fucked on a variety of other substances. But his job is a drugs rehab councillor. He comes out on weekends and does whatever drug is popular, or whatever drug one of his clients is struggling with, as 'market research' so he knows how to help them better. It's tough to say whether that is his genuine reason for doing it, or whether he is just a massive druggie and uses his job as an excuse. Who can say?
That's it for another round of tales. I hope you have enjoyed them and maybe realised that your job isn't so bad.
If you have any funny/bizarre/scary work stories then send them to me on Twitter. You can find me here.
I hope to see you again soon for another guided tour of Groovy Spoons.
Disclaimer: These stories and characters are 100% real, however all names and locations have been altered so I don't lose my job.