Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I had started this post a couple of days ago, when events were at their freshest in my slowly decaying cortex. Now that it's no longer a couple of days ago, and being in the here and the now, I totally erased the original text. I had to think about it some more, as the random notion that a bit of introspection might be useful and constructive comes fleeting by all too infrequently. I have a few moments between running errands in Eugene and driving a wagonload of goods, so why not pop by High Street Cafe, my Eugene local, to have a pint or two and get this post sorted out.

Running a pub is a silly business. It's a one-sided marriage to a building, a mostly-organized collection of property contained within, and a handful of people rummaging about trying to bring a pleasant experience all around to what one hopes is more than a mere handful of other people. Even with being closed on Tuesdays for the Winter, there is still plenty to occupy the time. Some days I just have to be there to wait for the distributors to show up. Others are spent at the bar, or in the brewery. Today I had hoped to tackle the paperwork on the desk, the late duty report to the TTB, and the messy brew kettle from Sunday's brewday. Instead I'm in Eugene doing the stock run and other errands. This is really a job for Chef, but as he doesn't have a car yet I'm fine with doing it. Once in a while. Then I catch myself starting to grumble. About having to work every day. About the stress. About the negative bank account. About trying to keep the staffing just right, and making sure the menu stays interesting, and worrying about where the money is going to come from to pay the DHS for my restaurant certificate and OTIC for keeping the shiny blue and white signs on the highway. Oh, and the mortgage company was curious why they hadn't received my mortgage payment yet.

(Insert moment of introspection here)

I used to be a highly paid software engineer. After almost 30 years of endeavoring to bend silicon to my will, I gave it up at the end of 2004. Figuring out that I would have a go at diving into the pub and brewery business, for real, started less than two years later. It's been non-stop ever since. I think there are three types of people who go into this job: those that don't know what they're getting into, those that theoretically know what there getting into, and those that know full-blown experientially what they're getting into and do it anyway because they are crazy in a nice sort of way. I think I can safely say that I started out in the middle, having made sure that I would have the opportunity to immerse myself in the environment to see what goes on under the hood. Valuable time was spent at the Woolpack Inn in Cumbria doing just that. And then you plop yourself down in your own pub and the warp drive kicks in. When your signature is the one that the bank expects on the checks, then you notice yourself being drawn into the third category, and then things can get gloomy. Without introspection. And reminders.

I found myself seeking out John Gorka's "Land of the Bottom Line" off my iPhone in the car today. A favorite of mine, and a good reminder. Freedom, or rather, an exchange of freedoms. Today I had the freedom of choosing what I was going to do, and when I was going to do it, within the certain constraints of business, family, community theater obligations, store hours and that late night hour or two of World of Warcraft so I can get that nice new piece of PvE gear. I can see the purpose behind what I'm doing. It's satisfying in a non-monetary sort of way. The original post, the one that I erased, was about the fun and fantastic night we had Saturday night. Norm, Kelly T, Erika and Kip put on a great house gig. I wanted to get that reminder back in this post, because that's what had set it off in the first place. I sat there in the back of the pub that night, on a stool with a pint of cask-conditioned Tanninbomb (from a brewery in Oakridge, Oregon, can you believe it?), and watched the magic that makes a pub a pub. That's a good enough shot in the arm to keep it up for another week or two.