Politics & Other Mistakes: Honky-tonk nightmare

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I don’t worry much about annoying people.

Politicians? If they don’t have thick skins, they should find another hobby.

Readers? If it wasn’t for hate mail, I’d get no mail at all.

Editors? A mutant variant of homo sapiens that believes “State House” is one word and “friggin’idiot” is two.

There is, however, a class of human beings I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid provoking:


Until now.

In the past year, I’ve had little opportunity to interact with the dedicated folks on the other side of the beer taps, but I have some hope that will soon change. Once again, I’ll push through those (figurative) swinging doors to find people who are intoxicated enough that they don’t mind being seen in public with me. Once again, I’ll be able to slide onto a stool and order a cold draught and an ill-advised shot. Once again, I’ll be greeted like a long-lost relative (as one of my favorite barkeeps put it, “I’m always happy when you come in, because I don’t have to be nice to you”).

So, it’s with great trepidation that I risk destroying decades of cordial relationships with a profession I’ve always placed on a par with such essential personnel as doctors, nurses, and plumbers when the septic system backs up. But my journalistic integrity (was that the oxymoron alarm?) compels me to take a stand at odds with those of the masters of the cocktail shaker.

I don’t think bar and restaurant workers should be allowed to jump the line to get coronavirus vaccines.

You can call me a hypocrite. Under the Mills administration’s age-based rules, I qualified for my first jabbing last month and will receive my second dose in a couple weeks. That’s because I had the foresight to have been born a boomer, making me officially old. Most bar employees are Gen Xers and millennials, meaning they’ll have to wait months for their doses.

That system is annoying the hell out of people in the hospitality industry who have to work without sufficient protection from the ‘rona. Briana Volk, owner of Portland’s Hunt and Alpine Club, took to Twitter (as quoted in the Portland Press Herald) to challenge the state’s (and my) double standard:

“By allowing restaurants and bars to be open for indoor dining and not vaccinating the workers, Maine is telling all of us that the people who are the reason for one of the largest industries in our state aren’t as important as that sweet, sweet out-of-state tourist cash.”

A few words in my defense: Without these shots, I won’t be able to safely visit (hey, editor, did you catch that split infinitive) my local watering hole. That means I’ll keep on drinking at home, with my sweet, sweet in-state cash flowing to the local beer shop and packie.

I won’t be infecting any bartenders. I’ll just be starving them.

In order for Maine’s saloons to once again pour alcohol down my neck, I first need a vaccine in my arm. And in the arms of a lot of other folks I used to hang around with (wake up, editor, that sentence ended in a preposition). Without that, it doesn’t matter if the hospitality industry gets dibs on shots, because it’ll be bankrupt, anyway.

Me first. Then, maybe, you. After teachers and day-care workers. (Note to editor: sentence fragments.) Because I really do miss you, and I intend to tip enough to make up for all those times I was too drunk to properly calculate the amount.

Still, I can’t help but worry that my future as a dive-bar denizen was foreshadowed by an encounter right after I got my shot. Everyone had to wait 15 minutes before leaving the clinic to make sure we didn’t have a reaction. I was doing my time when a volunteer approached.

“Would you like a bottle of water?” she asked.

“I don’t suppose you have beer,” I replied.

She laughed and walked away.

I expect I’ll be getting that same treatment from lots of bartenders.

I’ve gone dry, but you can let the invective flow by emailing [email protected].

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