Maniacs for the Dollar

Who: Steven Cornwell
Age: 35
City: New York, NY
Profession: Professional Bartender

“Oooh, yeah, this beer just hits the spot.” I can’t remember how Steven and I started talking…something about jobs or beer or how the Red Sox were coming back from a two game loss? What was it? I’m a little tipsy so that definitely doesn’t help with specificity. Well, regardless, what I remember: Steven is a professional bartender. He sits in front of his defrosting beer facing an empty Irish bar, much like me, and yet seems quite content on this Sunday evening. His thick, black-rimmed reading glasses stand out against his white skin. He actually reminds me of a friend of mine from my waiting days. Oh, Jamie, I wonder how you’re doing?

“I just finished a 10 hour shift, I’m spent.” He brags. And then I notice: he doesn’t look at me when we talk. Huh. Like, I’m part of the conversation but not really there? “I worked on the Hudson all day.” Is that to me, I wonder? It was a cold Sunday for a Mother’s Day in New York, very odd for May weather, but Steven and I don’t get into weather or Mother’s Day talk. How were tips today? I ask, expecting the worse. “Well, tips are just icing on the cake. My hourly rate is pretty awesome,” he boasts. Oh yeah. How much? I push. He shoots me a glare. There he is! He looks me in the eyes. For the first time, I think. “I’m not gonna tell you,” he gives me a awkward chuckle. Funny how easily we’re able to strut around each other but we don’t want to share specifics – why mention it in the first place? Stupid. But it could be the alcohol talking.

Steven goes on to tell me about his new home: “it’s pretty awesome, $550 a month, right off the L in Brooklyn, and I live with two girls who I rarely see -” I interrupt, why not? “Because we’re all maniacs for the dollar, that’s why.” What do they do? I pry. One’s a bartender and the other works for HBO. He doesn’t know details and doesn’t seem to care either; he’s only been there a month. I’m impressed he is so agreeable towards his 50-hour week: 20 hours with the Hudson bartending gig and 30 hours at his other bar job. “Good for you,” I say. He doesn’t look at me. “Yeah, well, I was flat broke and jobless last year. Now I have two, and you know what? I’m glad. I finally got money in the bank. I don’t mind 5 hours sleep a night. You get use to it.”
I guess you do.

Author: pizzaslices

Liza is an actor and co-creator of Subway Token Films, a film production company that captures Street Level Miracles through films. That is, moments in our lives when the story as we know it stops, the lens is pulled back and something more expansive is revealed to us. Liza has won awards and audiences alike for her portrayals of the immigrant story on stage and film. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles with her partner, actor Felix Solis.