Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Beer and Work Part Two

Believe it or don’t, the Dr and I worked together for many years as ‘wedding consultants’ for a large family run formal hire company. Our job was to advise on styles of formal wear, measure and fit, order the stock from the warehouse and supervise the fittings. The job itself was fairly simple and free of stress. But, at busy times, the pace and the pressure could build to the point where mere mortals might crack under the strain.

The reasons for the stressful occasions were fairly obvious. Beer and the bride-to-be. You see, the shop we worked in was opposite a large establishment which specialised in the heavy retailing of alcoholic beverages as well as the shortening of pool cues by half using only brute force and the melon of an unsuspecting opponent. Rough pub. (They spent millions on it to refurbish and reinvent it only to discover that you still get the same old dickheads in ‘cos they’re too stupid to go anywhere else.)

It was also a landmark of convenience for us because we would all hit the bottle shop after our shift then retire to a mates house nearby where we would play cards and drink til’ the wee small hours talking shit and thinking of new and better ways to make more money in commissions. More on this soon. And, speaking of morons;

It was also a landmark of enough note that our clients would often use it as a meeting point for the wedding party before the initial suit selection or the final fitting. Now, if they met up and got a bit lagered for the first fitting, we were in commission heaven because the job was not only easier because the groom and his mates were more relaxed, but because we got paid a bonus to hire formal shoes in addition to the suits and EVERYONE hired shoes when they were looked after by the Doc and I and they had been drinking.

Meanwhile, the bride-to-be was busy on the other side of the shop with her uptight entourage, pimping and preening and all arguing over dress styles and how ‘Maria can’t wear that because of her Tuck Shop lady under arms’ and ‘the off the shoulder look is no good for Anna because she’s a big fatty boom-bah’ and it ‘just highlights her flud-dubbidahs’ while we were happily convincing the blokes that the suits WE chose for them were perfect in every respect. It’s amazing how a well chosen, throw away comment like; ‘mate, looks like you were born in that’ or; ‘sure you’re OK settlin’ down with just the ONE girl?’ was a winner when combined with a gut full of VB. Easy, happy days, indeed.

About this time, the bride-to-be would show up – possibly alerted by the macho laughter and school boy humour- to ensure that everything was going to plan. Her plan. We would be up to the shoe stage and she would chime in with something like; ‘You don’t need to hire shoes, no one will notice’ and we would matter-of-factly reply with; ‘That’s right. As long as you all have matching shoes of your own’.

If this didn’t get her hooked, and it usually would, we would throw in (as we walked away) ‘You’re not planning on spending much cash on the photos, anyway, are you?’ “Wait a minute . . . what do you mean?” she would stammer, thinking immediately of the $1000 deposit she just sent off to the photographer. Gotcha! ‘Oh, nothing, it’s just that the only time you really notice the different shoes is in the photos.’

“You’re ALL GETTING SHOES!!” Ka-Chingggg!!

It’s really quite funny to look back on those halcyon days when the lure of the dollar was almost insatiable. And it was not the monetary value, which was literally A dollar, which drove us but the fact that we had thought our strategy through and planned our performances to a ‘T’ over a couple of beers and then celebrated our success in the same fashion. There really is something magical about sitting around with mates and beers and reliving past glories and future conquests that still, to this day, give me a warm beery glow!

And, while we no longer work at the same job together, whenever we get together in the presence of our mates and our lagers, the conversation invariably staggers around to the days of old and the times we shared and we raise a glass to the beer which, as Homer Simpson so eloquently puts it;
“Is the cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s’ problems.”

Prof. Pilsner

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