Whistle Or Scream While You Work

Whistle (Or Scream) While You Work Life is full of encounters with annoying, horrendous, wretched, irritating, pathetic wastes of human life, and I am in constant contact with them wherever I go. Although I have a choice whether or not I want to deal with these people, I do not have a choice at my place of employment. While working at 9 Ball Joe, a coffee/billiards hall, I am forced to interact with mainly four groups of people; from rowdy, revolting children and useless, pitiable teens, to scheming schoolgirls and bothersome regulars, a line of work seeming so simple is anything but. First and foremost, I am a 19 year-old college student who places value in any chance I get for peace and quiet, thus, babysitting is not my profession of choice. However, on most weekend nights 9 Ball Joe is infested with children between the ages 12-16. They are loud, obnoxious, and in some situations, disrespectful. Unfortunately for me, they have strength in numbers. Because most of them are too young to drive, they often come piled in a van driven by one of their parents.

Before entering the building, they feel it is necessary to “hang out,” or loiter in the parking lot for at least ten minutes, leaving a trail of litter behind. Once in the building, they huddle in a large mass near the entrance door causing messy customer traffic-jams. Because young children are commonly indecisive, fifteen minutes can pass before any decision is made on whether to shoot pool, or to purchase drinks. If they do decide to get drinks, they spend as little as possible (a one drink minimum is policy). Jones Sodas seem to be the beverage of choice since they are cheap, colorful, and sweet. Having to deal with their loud voices and sugar-high theatrics all night is only the beginning of my torture.

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I am continually left with scads of dishes to clean up after they leave even though our signs clearly read: PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN DISHES. The next breed of 9 Ball-goers consists of 20 year-old high school dropouts who still live with their parents and have excessive drinking problems. Unfortunately, age is not an indicator of maturity. These individuals are worse than youngsters half their age. I often wonder how they make enough money to feed their alcohol and cigarette addiction as well as pay for their pool and drinks.

Many of them enter reeking of liquor or cheap beer, and I often catch them with an un-lit cigarette hanging from their lips for long periods of time. Whether they find this to be cool or attractive in some way, I don’t know, but my guess is they’re just too drunk to know their cigarette is not lit. Since 9 Ball Joe prohibits alcohol, I often find this group smuggling in small bottles of liquor to mix with their Cokes. Any decent, half way attractive woman can be sure of receiving a cheap feel by one of these perverts. They have convinced themselves that they are God’s gift to women, and they fearlessly act upon the idea.

They always seem to have a pager and a cell phone so they can keep in touch with their drinking buddies and look important in the process. Although I’ve found them to be quite talkative (especially to women), the most in-depth conversations born in their feeble minds would be of cars or sex. Surprisingly, the women listen intently. Then we have the 14-17 year-old female prostitute wanna-be’s. These male-munching vampirellas have strict requirements in selecting their prey: pants and a pulse.

Making their showy entrance in the early evening, they frequently come in pairs and dress down as much as legally possible. With strapless tops, short-shorts, and mounds of makeup, I’d swear they are auditioning for Miss Teen Sleaze! As if time itself becomes stale, these young fashion queens never hover in one spot for too long. The fear of jeopardizing their opportunities makes them ultra attentive to their surroundings. They always have their makeup bags ready and an eye on the door in case fresh meat arrives. Once a victim is chosen, eye contact is avoided until they have gone to the ladies room to check on their makeup.

This action is frequently repeated until perfection is achieved. Pathetically, most of these girls actually pretend they are smokers just to look cool and be accepted by the older guys. I call it “social smoking.” Much practice goes into making each drag appear smooth and flowing, but to the contrary, their lungs feel hurt and betrayed. At the end of a good night, they are left with countless phone numbers, full stomachs, and hours of free pool practice, their victims having been trapped by their own lusts. The last group is a combination of all three types: the regulars.

Half of them spend all their time shooting pool and gambling, while the other half stay in the dining area drinking coffee, playing cards, and socializing. They seem to put more hours in at 9 Ball Joe than I do even though I’m an employee. The pool-shark regulars arrive in the evening, and their ages vary from 18-50. Most of them own personal cue sticks, and they are often seen comparing them with each other to see who wasted the most money on a long piece of wood with a soft blue tip. Tables 8-11 on the east end of 9 Ball Joe are favored by the regulars. They’ve made this corner of the building their own, and any uninvited foreigner on one of these tables is considered a trespasser and is treated as such for the remainder of their stay.

The fee for billiards at 9 Ball Joe is based on how many players are stationed on a table per hour. The regulars often overlook this system for the duration of their visit given that I am routinely finding mismatches when I glance their way. They habitually switch pool tables after every game, screwing up the bill. When I confront them, however, they argue vehemently that my discernment was faulty and that I am incredulous to make such accusations (delivered in much less appropriate speech of course). The coffee regulars, much like the pool-shark regulars, have their assigned seats. Arriving at the same time every day, they can be found in their designated spaces with either coffee, books, playing cards, laptop computers, or just a pack of cigarettes and an ashtray.

Coffee at 9 Ball Joe is $0.80 for the first cup, then $0.25 for every refill. The coffee regulars feel they should be privileged with free coffee refills since they have been such loyal, longtime customers. This reasoning eludes me since 9 Ball Joe has been open for only 2 years. When I spot them topping off their mugs without paying, I kindly ask them to pay the proper amount. Incredible as it may seem, they have actually asked if they could borrow out of the employee tip jar! Oh the nerve! At the end of a long work night, I am more than ready to head home and get some needed rest. In spite of this, I am required to stay until all the customers have left.

Often to my dismay, a group of euchre-playing coffee regulars may decide to stay until they have finished their game. They will reassure me their game will only last another five minutes. Funny how five habitually transforms into fifteen or twenty. When all the euchre players finally leave, I may notice a couple sitting in the corner quietly talking. Accidentally brushing wet mop across their feet after I’ve already swept around them seems to be the only hint these valued customers understand.

IDIOTS! Now the question I ask myself is this: Am I lucky to be able to scrutinize such chaos during an eight-hour shift so expectations for myself can be lowered? Or is it better to be employed in a business consisting of “normal” customers? Perhaps there is no such place. But until I find it, I must continue to endure these four types of hellish denizens who inhabit the confines of 9 Ball Joe. Business.