Caitlyn is behind the bar tonight, alone for the first time. Melissa was supposed to work with her, but she called out sick. Caitlyn learned this from her aunt, manager Mary Ann.
“Do you think you can handle the bar by yourself tonight?” Mary Ann asked after telling her about Melissa’s absence.
“People will get their drinks slower, but sure.”
“That may affect revenue. Lenny and Uncle Steve won’t like that.” Mary Ann was quiet for a few seconds, pondering. She then said, “Most people have at least two drinks, right?”
“Serve two at once. Then you don’t have to get back to them as soon.”
“That’s a great idea! Why don’t we do that all the time?”
“I don’t know. I’ll talk to Uncle Steve about it,” Mary Ann said.
The evening started out quiet; Caitlyn doesn’t get her first customers until a little after 6, when Leigh and Jim arrive.
“What can I get you?” Caitlyn asks.
“Doesn’t Melissa usually work on Wednesdays?” This from Jim.
“She called out sick.”
“Oh,” Jim says. “So you’re working alone?”
“Yes, what can I get you?”
“Not much for small talk, are you?” Jim asks.
“Aunt Mary Ann says idle chatter can reduce efficiency.”
Jim pointedly looks around the empty bar and begins to say something, but Leigh interrupts. “Give it up, Jimmy. She’s not going chat with you.”
“Tito’s rocks,” Jim says.
“I’ll have a Bloody Mary,” Leigh says.
“Maybe later,” Leigh says.
Caitlyn heads off without another word.
“What a little pill,” Jim says when she is out of eyeshot and earshot.
“Quiet, she’ll hear you. You know how this bar conducts sound.”
“I don’t really care. Let her hear. Let’s go after this one drink, ok? We can go to Solaris.”
“Ok, good idea,” Leigh says. She’s playing Candy Crush on her phone. Jim knows it’s futile to tell her to put the phone down, but does so anyway.
“Just trying to get to the next level.”
“That could take weeks,” Jim says. “And our drinks are coming.” Leigh sighs and puts her phone down.
Caitlyn has returned with Jim’s Tito and Leigh’s Bloody Mary. She places them on the bar, says “Hold on,” and leaves.
“That’s odd,” Leigh says as she takes a sip of her drink. “This Bloody Mary is terrible, by the way. Tastes like she put ketchup in it.”
“Watch out, she’ll hear you.”
“Touché. But it is odd. Why did she tell us to hold on?”
“Here she comes. She has two drinks. Must be for the dining room.”
But, as we know she will, Caitlyn stops when she reaches Leigh and Jim, puts the drinks down and says “Here you are.”
“What the fuck?” Jim says. “What are these?”
“Your second round. I’m working by myself tonight, as you know. This saves time.”
Jim is so incredulous that he is rendered momentarily speechless, which allows Caitlyn to wander off.
“Wait. Come back here,” he says.
“Yes? What is it? I have to cut some limes.”
“This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. You can’t serve two drinks at once!”
“Why not? I think it makes good sense. It was Aunt Mary Ann’s idea.”
“Well, that explains it. What she knows about bars could fit in the nucleus of a cell.”
“Good one, Jimmy,” Leigh says.
“You always have two, now you won’t have to wait for your second.” She looks around the empty bar. “I might get busy.” In the last few seconds, one new customer entered the bar and is sitting two stools to Leigh’s right.
Jim shakes his head. “Take the two extra drinks away and don’t charge us for them. We are one and done tonight.” His tone leaves no room for disagreement and Caitlyn complies, grumpily.
Leigh sees that the new arrival is openly watching this interaction. She says, “Hi, I’m Leigh.”
“Did you get the drift of what just happened or would you like me to explain it to you? And did anyone ever tell you that you look like Paul Rudd?”
“Yes I got the drift and yes I’ve heard that a time or two,” Robert says.
“Is this your first time here?”
“No, third. First time seeing this bartender in action, though. What’s her name?”
“Caitlyn. You sound official. What are you, some sort of mystery diner?”
“Hey Jim, meet Robert. He’s a mystery diner.”
“I didn’t say that,” Robert says.
“I hope you are,” Jim says. “You should test Caitlyn. She’s the manager’s niece. They’re both idiots.” He drains his Tito’s rocks, throws $15 on the bar, and says to Leigh, “You’re done, right? Not going to finish the Ketchup Mary?”
“Yes, done,” she responds. “Robert,” she says. “If I give you my email address, will you send me a report on your evaluation of Caitlyn?”
“I don’t know that there will be a report,” Robert says. “I never even admitted to being a mystery diner.”
“Well, just in case,” she says. “Do you have a pen?” Robert does, and she scribbles her address on a cocktail napkin. “Please get back to me as soon as possible.”
“Have a good evening,” Robert says.