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.