Working Man

“The Brewer’s Backstory” – Episode 11

October 2003

The Brewer's Justice cover

Coming January 2016!

“Brad! Clean-up needed in the men’s room—now!” shouted Michelle, the assistant manager of Funky Flatirons Brewpub. Approaching the opposite end of the bar, Brad swung the tray piled with dirty dishes off his shoulder. With the Buffs game tomorrow, the Friday-night crowd was even rowdier and louder than usual. He could just breeze on into the kitchen like he hadn’t heard her. But with Michelle, Miss Do-it-right-and-do-it-now, that would buy him ten seconds at best.

He sighed and nodded her direction before disappearing into the kitchen where he wedged the tray into a spot on the counter crowded with stacks of dishes and glasses waiting for him to load them into the dishwashers. This was his third weekend at the job, and he had loaded the Funky Flatirons dishwashers more times than he had ever loaded the one at home in Denver.

The door from the dining room flew open and Michelle stalked in, blond ponytail bouncing behind her and Zeke on her heels. Brad and all four cooks turned. “Take the mop, Brad,” Michelle ordered. She couldn’t be more than 5’4”, but there was no doubt who was in charge. “Apparently one of the obnoxious undergrads over in Zeke’s section had more than he could handle.” She pivoted. “Zeke, why the hell didn’t you cut him off?”

“Jesus, Michelle, I’m paid to wait tables, not babysit. Besides, the guy only had three beers.”

Brad started running fresh water into the mop bucket. Hands on her hips, Michelle rolled her eyes. “And who knows what else before they came in? A couple others in his group look like they could be next. Take ‘em their check and send ‘em on their way.”

“Dang, Michelle,” said Mack, the head cook who probably weighed almost double Michelle. “We got dishes and crap piling up on the counter. We need Brad here.”

Brad sunk the mop into the water and sloshed it around, hoping for a reprieve. Michelle sighed loudly and yanked open a dishwasher door. “I’ll get a load going while he cleans up. Brad, take a pair of disposable gloves.”

Bucket in hand and gloves in his pocket, Brad kept what he hoped was a neutral face as he made his way around Michelle. Now Zeke rolled his eyes and dropped his hands so they slapped against his legs before he opened the door for Brad.

The instant Brad walked into the men’s room, the smell overpowered everything. It hit him full force that he had been ordered to clean up a stranger’s vomit. He’d never done anything this gross in his life. He struggled not to upchuck himself. What the heck was he doing here? Between the twenty-hour work weeks and a full class load, he hadn’t had time to brew since he’d been hired. He pulled on the gloves and, for the first time in his illustrious, three-week career as a Funky Flatirons busboy, wondered why the hell he had thought it was a good idea to take this job.

When he finally made it back into the kitchen, Mack was flipping a line of burger patties on the grill. “You get it done?” Brad wrinkled his nose and nodded. “You’re alright, Peters. Lot of guys your age would have told Michelle to f- off and walked out the door. How old are you, anyway? Twenty? Twenty-one?”

Brad deposited the mop and bucket and stood up a little straighter. “Nineteen, as of tomorrow.”

“No kidding?” Mack said. “Happy birthday. I had you pegged for older.”

“Yeah?” Brad hadn’t meant to sound so surprised. He opened the dishwasher that had finished its cycle and started pulling out plates.

“You look like a guy who’s got an idea of where he’s going in life. You have a plan, Peters?” Mack pulled several patties off the grill and dropped them on buns he had lined up and waiting.

“I going to brew beer. I mean, I already do, but I want to do it professionally.”

“You got a couple years before that can happen. A homebrewer, huh?”

“For almost three years.”

“Now I understand. Get your foot in the door early. Learn the ropes. Get to know people. Turn twenty-one and, bingo, they hire you as an assistant brewer.” Mack said, passing his plated burgers down the line to the fry cook.

A little rush of adrenaline shot through Brad. “I hadn’t planned it out that clearly, but that’d be totally awesome.”

“It would be, but for now, Peters, before the clock strikes midnight and you turn nineteen, that mountain of dirty dishes has to disappear—and there ain’t no Prince Charming coming to your rescue.”

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