“It isn’t work if you enjoy what you are doing”
This is a very astute statement from an intelligent but most likely unemployed person who has probably never worked in a job that has kept him or her above the poverty line. I have worked in a variety of jobs from sifting through rock samples as a geological assistant to manning the store and herding stoners out the door during the late night shift at a 7-11. The majority of these jobs felt like work but only one of them actually slotted into the statement above. I speak of my time working in an inner-city hotel/nightclub. I shall not mention this place by name but those who worked there and who frequented it’s sticky carpeted floors will know exactly which venue it is. It was the home of “The Bucket of Booze”.
I had moved up to Brisbane from Melbourne and needed a job quickly. I had always dreamed of working in a nightclub ever since I saw that midget Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail throw bottles of booze around with scant regard for health and safety laws. I wanted to be this guy except without the strained weird laugh and the leanings towards crazy cults that take all your money under the guise of religion. I applied for several jobs and was knocked back for every single one even though I had lied out of my arse on my resume. I hadn’t actually worked in hospitality but figured it wasn’t that hard to carry a tray of drinks so I peppered my resume with a summary of numerous nightclubs in Melbourne where I had plied my trade. This didn’t work. Experience didn’t count one bit. The guys hiring wanted boobs. I heard “Nah mate. We are only hiring chicks, eh” on numerous occasions. Not perturbed, I walked the streets asking for a job and I finally got one.
I walked into this somewhat seedy hotel in Paddington and asked to speak to the manager. A pony-tailed man not much older than I am greeted me with a smile and said “That’s me!” I asked straight up for a job and told him about my ‘awesome experience’. He was suitably impressed and said he’d give me a trial. I was overjoyed. I would work my butt off, impress him and the other staff and become Tom Cruise. This was going to be awesome. I was going to be a drink pouring superstar working in a flash night club. Knee deep in sexy ladies within a week. I was quite wrong.
On my first night I saw a drunk lady smash a pool cue over a guys head and then try and stab him with the shards. The second night I worked there I had a vomit-speckled man hurl abuse and spit at me for ‘looking at him funny.’ These things didn’t happen in Cocktail. Tom Cruise had let me down again! First Risky Business (dancing in your underwear isn’t a good look for everyone) and now this. Going to work in this hotel was literally like walking onto the set of a Brazilian porno movie with a decidedly violent theme, and I loved every minute of it.
The best feature of this hotel was the marketing strategy that was used to bring the masses in. It was a great strategy and was ultimately one of the reason for the tighter alcohol laws that were brought into Qld in the mid-90’s. We sold buckets of booze. Like, a bucket…with booze in it. We had hundreds of those 1L white paint buckets and for three bucks you could get six shots of your favourite basic spirit plus a mixer. $3 for a bucket of sin. You could spend less than $10 and be as blind as Ray Charles. Like dribbling drunk. Some fallout occurred after a string of nasty incidents at other venues (not ours, of course) and we agreed to change our price structure. A bucket was now $6. We copped some flak from the drunken popped collar hordes and the slutty skanks but it was still a bargain. A better bargain if you were one of my friends as I’d put about nine shots in there and just wave a bottle of coke over the top. By midnight things got a bit messy. People would be rutting like dogs on the dance floor, glassies would be getting furtive blowjobs from drunken single mothers in the parking lot and a certain bartender would be slamming down shots with the aforementioned pony-tailed manager in the office. Crazy times. I used to love going to work. That was until the ‘Phantom Shitter’ started plying his trade.
Yeah. The Phantom Shitter. That was our name for this faecal terrorist.
One Saturday night we were in full swing and the glassy came running over and said “Some dude has clogged the toilet!” Now as any hospitality worked will know, cleaning the toilets is a horrible yet necessary task. It also has to be done several times during the night. The ladies toilets are the worst. You see, men just piss everywhere and you can hose that stuff right off. Women go a little bit feral. Sometimes you’d walk in there and the scene that confronted you would be so shocking that you would be frozen to the spot in abject terror. Toilet paper everywhere. Used tampons flung against the wall. Vomit and smeared shit all over the cubicles. Just feral crazy oestrogen charged antics, really. So a clogged toilet in the men’s was nothing in comparison. I walked in there and was traumatised with what I saw.
Someone had clogged up the toilet with paper. Then smashed a pot glass in there. And then done a big poo in another pot glass and left it balanced on top. Then they had pressed the flush button resulting in a revolting brown and grey malicious soup. This was nasty. This was also the work of a creative genius. I dare say in some circles, people might call it an artistic installation. I called it a disease trap mainly because of the broken glass which just screamed hepatitis if you got cut. We got thick gloves on and a spare bin and cleaned that up. Well, I didn’t. I supervised and pointed a lot. I wasn’t going to get elbow deep in poo for $13 an hour. No way. We thought that was the end of it though…until next Saturday night.
Sure enough, the shitter struck again. Same motive, same style. The weird thing was, we’d removed all glass from the nightclub in order to curb costs caused by patrons throwing them around like footballs and randomly glassing each other after drinking four buckets in an hour. We only used the plastic/poly-type glasses so this dirty bastard was bringing in at least two glasses from a neighbouring hotel in what seemed like a premeditated attack. We cleaned up the poo…but every Saturday night he’d return and lay a big steaming nard on top of a broken glass sculpture. Every fucking Saturday night for about 6 months. We even had a bouncer on duty near the toilets, sussing people out but we never caught him. We never even got close to seeing who might be doing it. There were rumours that it was an inside job but everyone had their turn at de-clogging the toilet so we certainly didn’t think there was any employee that masochistic who would inflict that on themselves just for shits (literally) and giggles. One thing was certain though. I loved working at that venue.
Except Saturday night…