‘There’s Been Worse Times – Can You Imagine Living in Europe During the 1300s?’

by on February 18, 2021 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

Straight Up With a Twist

By Edwin Decker

Hi Ed, I was all set to have a small (and safe) birthday gathering in my back yard with a handful of close friends. But the day before my birthday, the riot at the capital happened and two of my friends backed out . . . One of them said she couldn’t justify going to a party while, as she put it, “[T]he country is on fire.” The other one said that the riot was the last straw, on top of rising COVID-19 and mounting police brutality incidents . . . She even insinuated that I should have cancelled outright. I didn’t, but do you think she was right?

Julene H.M.

Dear Julene, I can’t help but wonder if people like this are real and if so, why they didn’t just slit their own wrists in the womb. Ok, sure, 2020 has been a festering canker on the anus of humanity, but what does 2020 expect us to do, crawl in a cave and watch stalactites grow? If you think like that you’ll always find a reason to avoid living in the moment.

Because guess what? People have been suffering and dying long before 2020 began dropping its virulent little turds all over the place: They were suffering and dying long before COVID came along. They were suffering and dying before the capital and social justice riots. And they died and suffered before Cindy Lauper’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve debacle.

Murder, disease, famine, drought, pestilence, war, zombies, genocide, Christ! Suffering and dying is one of the few things humans are consistently good at. Just look at the numbers: of the 107 billion people who have ever lived since the dawn of man, 100 billion of them have died. And I gotta say, the prognosis is not good for the remaining seven billion either.

The point being, not only are things not worse today than they were during any other era, the 21st century might actually be the best time to be alive – COVID notwithstanding.

Seriously, can you imagine living in Europe during the 1300’s? A time when, instead of pulling something out of the fridge for dinner, you had to leapfrog across the skulls of plague victims in order to cross a muddied street of horse piss, rat pus and cow crap just to secure a salmonella-riddled chicken you’ll have to kill and pluck yourself?

Can you imagine relocating your wife and kids across country by covered wagon and only two arrive three months later with half of them dead or recovering from tomahawk wounds?

Can you imagine being alive in the 80’s when at any given time you were in danger of hearing Starship come on the radio? Things have always sucked for humanity and, if you ask me, the more it sucks for people around us, the more fun you should have before it sucks specifically for you.


Dear Former Bartender Turned Hack Advice Columnist,

As a bar owner, I allow my bartenders a 30-dollar comp tab to reward regulars and other good customers with the occasional free drink. One of my pet peeves though is when a bartender comps a drink and says, “This one’s on me.” I find this annoying, even dishonest. The bartender didn’t pay for that drink, I did! So why are they taking credit? Am I being petty? Should I say something?

Stewing in Solana Beach

First, Stew, kudos to you. I am a big fan of the comp tab policy, for many reasons, and I commend you for utilizing it. And while it is technically correct that you are paying for that “free” drink, there is another way to look at it. Remember, that tab you afford the staff is part of the agreement of their employ. It’s really just a benefits program, like health insurance or company cars, and therefore part of their pay.

But yes, I get why this annoys you. That said, do not even think about mentioning it. For one, choose your battles. I have managed a few whiskey troughs in my day and know good and well about some of the serious staff issues most establishments endure. Focus on real problems such as theft, tardiness, rudeness, insubordination, incompetence etc. and not superficial ones such as how they deliver a comp. If you don’t have those kinds of real staff problems, even more reason not to nitpick them about the not-real problems.

Secondly, you need to think this through. I mean, how would you even bring it up? Will you call a staff meeting and tell them have to say, “On the house” instead? Or maybe you want to hang a sign in the back room that says, “Hear ye, hear ye! All staff are now limited to the following management-approved phrase when comping drinks: ‘Out of the goodness of his heart, our generous owner has bestowed upon you this free drink – for he is a wise and benevolent leader, and we are all fortunate to work for him. So say we all.’”

Yeah, um no, I don’t think so.

Edwin Decker (of Ocean Beach) is not a licensed therapist or psychologist. In fact, his only qualification is the 25-plus years as a bartender listening to the liver-aching of desperados and dipsomaniacs. Heed his advice at your peril

Send questions to ed@edwindecker.com

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