She Works Hard for the Money

My last night working at the Tap Room in Philly

My first double today at Lilly’s. Got a little lost on my way from Tara’s and show up ten minutes late. No one seems to mind. There’s something about working Sunday brunch. I always say I don’t want to work Sundays, but it always ends up being my shift. Started in Philly at the South Philadelphia Tap Room – one of my favorite bars. I was working full-time at the paper (The Gloucester County Times) when my brother asked if I’d be interested in picking up a couple weekend server shifts – they were kind of in a bind. Everyone at the paper had to work some weekends, but my boss, Shawn, was cool about it and said I only had to do Saturday mornings, leaving me open to work Saturday night and Sunday brunch at the bar. That left Tuesday as my only day off. I had just graduated college and was living at home with my parents. I was working a lot, but I had the most money I ever had in my life; with benefits (still wasn’t that much, but it certainly felt like it). Christmas was amazing that year because I could spend so much more on everyone. I bought my first car in March. In hindsight, I should have saved more. A lot more. After a year and a half I quit the paper and focused on acting, picking up more shifts at the bar. Then I moved to New York and went through all my savings. Been living month-to-month ever since.

Sunday brunch is a wonderful thing. Just the word makes my mouth water. It’s one meal where everyone drinks so many different things: coffee, OJ, water, bloody marys, mimosas. It’s always the best comfort food, too – eggs benedict at the top of my list. People love Sunday. They sit, they relax, they hang out all day with big plans to accomplish things that they can’t do during the week but end up enjoying themselves too much instead. The Tap Room was always busy. The moments before we unlocked the doors – cleaning, setting up, getting ready for the rush – are always my favorite. ESPN in the background before any of the football games start. If I have control of the ipod Christmas music is surely playing in December. And the sun always shines a little brighter on Sunday morning.

Press pass... so professional

Brunch isn’t crazy at Lilly’s, but by 3pm I’m tired and not looking forward to coming back for the night shift at 5pm. Corinne has been teaching me how to close. I’ve been taking notes but I want to do it a few more times with her before I do it on my own. Does everyone here close? “No, only some.” Why? “Only some are supposed to.” So why are you showing me? I just started. “So I don’t have to close all the time.” OK…so they told you to teach me how to close? “Yes.” OK. I didn’t ask for this responsibility but I’m getting it. It’s sort of a compliment but could sort of screw me. Francis and/or Tropez obviously want me trained to close.

Early in the night shift, a girl sits at the bar. Put menus in front of her but she doesn’t give them a look. “I’ve been craving French Onion soup all day and was told this was the place to go. Do you have French Onion soup?” Yes. “Is it good.” Yea, it’s awesome. Honestly, I have no idea. Haven’t eaten anything here because I can’t afford it because I haven’t been paid yet. She orders the soup and asks for some bread. The butter that comes with it is kind of ridiculously good. “Oh my god, what is in this?” Crack. I feel like I can say this to her. We would be friends if we knew each other. She says something to me while I’m typing something in the computer and not looking at her. Realize she sounds EXACTLY like Emma Stone. No one has told her this before. Well it’s a major compliment, I love her voice.

Later, two guys sit at the bar and order grey goose martinis with a twist. They’re obviously industry people, talking sets and scripts and directors. They introduce themselves to me as Larry and Chris (I think Chris, I’m terrible with remembering). They come here all the time. Chris keeps saying something and I have to interrupt. Sorry, but what do you mean, it’s gotta be on the page? Both go on about reading a script and having it grab you. “When you read a novel, how soon are you into it? First couple pages? Same thing with a script. It has to be a good story, and it has to be a good story starting with the first paragraph. They’re passionate in everything they’re saying – as I’m finding with most everyone out here in the business.

Dinner is steady but it dies early. Guillome says I can leave around 9pm. I stay and talk with him and Elmer for a bit. Elmer is the DJ for Lilly’s, but he is also trying to help them turn the bar into…a bar. He’s put together a new bar menu that looks good, clean. I feel like we’re on the same page with how a place should be run. He’s trying to put together some cocktails for an upcoming holiday party. We brainstorm about different ideas. In the most general sense, Elmer wants to make this place better. I hope I’m not getting sucked into a lost cause, but tonight, I’m on board.

*Donna Summer

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