Moving Through Some Changes
After a while we all settle down, and Lanie stands up to make some announcements, all of which are surprises.
The first is that they're closing the kitchen, probably for good. Even with the extra alcohol sales the lunch specials bring in, they've been running a loss in the early afternoons for a while. The "kitchen staff" was already down to just one guy by attrition, and he only worked a few lunch shifts a week, but they have to let him go, which is kind of rough this time of year.
Second, Lanie announces that with lunch "off the table," so to speak, the Bar will now open at four in the afternoon every day. That's going to require fewer shifts to cover. Jocelyn and I glance across our table at each other in a mild panic, until Lanie makes her third announcement - that Amy is moving back to Oregon. Her dad is sick, and apparently she's been thinking about going back anyway, so now just happens to be the right time for her to do it. And this means, if anything, that the rest of us might even be working a few more shifts. Certainly, I'm likely to end up working more often with Kira and Sophie, the two barmaids who up until now have been working mostly daytime shifts.
But this also means some changes for the managers. Instead of Pat being the day manager and Todd managing nights, Pat's going to manage Sundays through Tuesdays, and Todd will manage Wednesdays through Saturdays. From the looks on their faces, neither of them is too thrilled about the arrangement, but something tells me it's a better idea than just knocking Pat down to part-time.
That's it for the big changes, but then Victor stands up for one more announcement. "Ladies, you have got to start reining in the buybacks." Seeing us start to protest, he holds up a hand. "I know, I know - it's good business, it develops regulars, it encourages more spending and not less, you get better tips, yes, that's all true. But it's gotten out of hand, and we just want you to use your judgment a little more. You're not supposed to spend our money to buy drinks for your friends, you're supposed to do it to help us make new and lasting friendships." In my peripheral vision I can see Maya roll her eyes, and I wonder if Samantha has been the beneficiary of some over-enthusiastic largesse.
"So from now on, every buyback on the night's receipts needs to be accounted for with a buyback note," Victor says, holding up a reporter's pad. The entire room groans. "You'll live, ladies, trust me. This is a business, we're just trying to run it like one." In my head, I go over my recent buyback habits. Former B-List Actor can certainly afford to buy his own drinks, I was just cultivating a minor celebrity semi-regular. I bought Warren a few drinks, but that was in the name of romance - or at least sex - and given that Lanie was known to throw a few buybacks Victor's way back when they first met many years ago, I don't think they can begrudge me those. But the round of drinks for Bria and all her friends from the TV station the first time they came in was probably excessive.
The official business part of the meeting is over, and dessert seems a little bit less festive, but we stick around. I flag Amy down, and give her a hug. "How much longer do we get to keep you around?"
"I'm leaving on January 5," she says. "I got a much better fare than I would have if I'd gone home before Christmas like I planned to."
"I'll be praying for your father," I add.
"I know you will," she says, and moves on to accept good wishes from other staff members.
Somehow I imagine her farewell party isn't going to be quite as festive as Jessica's party was - especially not if we have to throw it right after the New Year - but we'll do right by her.
Lanie catches my eye and waves me over. "Congratulations, Debra," she says. "You're about to be the senior barmaid." That can't possibly be right, I think to myself, but then I realize it is. With Jessica gone since September, Amy is the only one left who's been tending bar here longer than I have. Suddenly I feel very old.