I am sitting in a pub in Bedford, England, having just consumed a microwaved fish and chips and a questionable pint. I placed my order at the bar, and my food materialized in front of me a few moments later, delivered by a waitress that said only ‘fish and chips, table 62’, before disappearing, never to be seen again. No ketchup, no brown sauce, to vinegar to be found with my fries, and no one to ask if I wanted some. That was no chef-prepared meal, and this pint of John Smith’s, my friends, is no Belhaven Best.
In short, I am missing my pub.
I arrived in England today, will attend Tamara’s wedding tomorrow, and will fly back to Edinburgh on Sunday. Then, I will start my very fancy ‘shift supervisor training’, which means I get to change kegs and lock the door. And a raise!
I started working at my pub about three days after arriving in Edinburgh. It was mid-festival season, and was insanely busy at all hours. I made mistakes with the orders, didn’t know where to find anything, and generally felt that I was in the way. Now that I’ve settled in, and I don’t make mistakes, and the pace is much more manageable, I’ve come to feel comfortable there. It’s a wee family-run pub, and it starts to feel like the staff is family: The other girls there who are going to uni, and the boys who work in the kitchen; the owner and his (French-Canadian) wife who on Sunday had their first baby. The regulars.
We have two ‘pairs’ of regulars: John and John, and Bill and Bill. John and John are in almost every day (one drinks a pint of Belhaven Best, the other a double Famous Grouse with ice and a straw). Bill and Bill are best friends who come in every Friday. Chris is in at midday, every day, for two quick pints, and again later for another before heading home on the train. Stuart drinks white coffee and does the crossword puzzle, and goes outside for frequent cigarettes (I mean, uh, fags).
We have a chef, who makes good food from scratch. Haggis. Fish and Chips. Cullen Skink. Crofter’s Chicken. We have good wait staff, who are friendly as all hell, which is good because our customers are mostly tourists.
My favorite American tourist story, so far: