It used to be that Frank, bartender at Carney’s was the object for our ridicule for his Vicodin addiction. He’s the supposed ‘manager’ of the restaurant, but he’s a total weasel. None of us respects him as manager, but he still tries to inflict his authority on us.
He’s got five years in AA – and he doesn’t let anyone forget how great he is for that – but he semi-secretly hits the pills like he’s eating popcorn. He used to have it made when his girlfriend who had Lupus and myriad other health problems could get an unlimited supply that she never tapped. But he broke up with her and married Shirley. Though he lost the girlfriend, he kept the Vicodin habit. He keeps it secret from Shirley, going through all manner of subterfuge to keep up with his hobby.
For instance, waitress Jacqueline has a husband, Bart (a bartender at another restaurant), who occasionally takes a Vicodin for recreation on his Sundays off, watching football. Bart has had elbow, back, and knee problems that sometimes lead to amassing large supplies of Vicodin. Frank jumps all over that, imploring Jacqueline to bring him any extras. I don’t know if she sells them or donates them.
Other times, Frank gets a big stash himself. So he brings most of them to Jacqueline for safekeeping. “I only allow myself 7 or 8 a week. If I have ’em around, I’ll go through this bag in a week.” Many’s the time Jacqueline has reported to us that Frank calls her mid-week, begging for more ’cause he’s out already. Other times he’s showed up knocking on her door, begging for pills. She finally banned him from coming to the house because he was so sketchy and suspicious.
The worst times for us waiters is the start of the shift. Frank is spineless, so is always on pins and needles when Carney and Harry (the married owners) are around. When he knows they’ll be in all night (they often work the days and leave the nights to us professionals), he loads up on Vike’s before work and shows up completely wigging out. Best I can observe, a Vicodin high seems to combine an amphetamine with a mood elevator. He gets behind that bar and starts barking requests to anybody with two ears.
“I need a six-pack of Miller Lite!”
“Can someone get me one envelope?”
“Primo, I need a twist!”
“Primo, get me a six-pack of Bud!”
Yes, he asks for the Lite first. Then five minutes later he asks for the Bud. He doesn’t combine the requests to save Primo (the busser) time. And anyway, there all a six-pack will do is complete a fully-loaded refrigerator with 24 bottles of Bud and Lite each. He’d take two days to run out.
So it used to be Frank. But now it seems Ciera is developing a Vicodin addiction. Tonight she was just the same as Frank, running around, asking for help, placing orders, half-finishing a handful of tasks then leaving the kitchen entirely. Ciera usually works in the lounge area while I work in the dining room. I thought she must be really busy, so I went up front to help out. There were some tables all right – six, where five is considered a normal full station – but three of them were completely done, with their checks down. I had no idea why she could be so freaked out with just three active tables.
Ciera is an open-book person. Her life is not that pretty. She’s 50-something, very pretty, but also aging way too rapidly. She’s never been married or had kids. She dates pretty much for drinks or for money. The ‘arrangements’ she works out with men are right on the edge of prostitution territory. Even without an ‘arrangement,’ she will have sex with nearly anyone who will take her out for a nice dinner. Or even just drinks, if he’s fun and attractive. She drinks every day – unless she’s in physical pain (either bad back or bad feet) – then she takes whatever pills her doctor gives her. And of course she still might have a couple glasses of wine along with it. Recreational pharmaceuticals make their way to her, as well, through a variety of friends. The other day, I observed another bartender leave a Vicodin on the back counter for her to pick up when she came in to work.
And I know all of this is true because, as I said, Ciera is an open-book person. She tells it all to you herself.