Praha pt. I-Work Life

Hello Fellow Fish,

I realize that it has been quite some time since the last installment, but I assure you it is all for good reason. I have since relocated from the Garden State to a much sunnier locale in Southern California. As such, there has been a transitional period of sorts that has occupied a great deal of my time as you can imagine.

I last left you having just arrived to my new home in Prague. Being that I spent so much time in one place, I have decided to break up the time into three categories each as interesting and read-worthy as the next: Work, Football, and Travel.

pt. I: Work

My first few days were spent getting acuainted with a new city, language, and lifestyle. Even after all the places I had been to that point, Praha quickly shot to the top of my favorite cities list. The old cobblestone roads, winding back alleys covered in ‘art’ (aka graffiti), and the fairytale-esque architecture contributed to the incredible beauty of this city.

One of my first stops was a clothing store so that I could update my wardrobe which was suited more for warmer climates, and it was snowing relentlessly when I first arrived. After my first few days, I walked around the city in search of the touristy areas where I could find work in a restaurant/bar. I went to the heart of it all in Old Town Square and walked in to the first bar I came across. The manager was on the phone, and I was about to walk out to go to the next place. As I got to the door, the hostess said he was done and I went to the back and asked for a job as a bar tender. Turns out he just got off the phone with the old bartender, whom he had just fired. The only interview questions I was asked were, “will you show up?” and “can you make a mojito?”

He asked me to come in the next night.

The bar was called the George and Dragon, an English sports pub that is extremely overpriced, but has the authority to do so being in the Times Square of Prague. I quickly got to know the other waitresses and bartenders who were all excited to have ‘An American’ working with them. Not to mention my flowing long hair and exotic Native American look. Every night there was a live performance by the in house musician who would play electric guitar and sing over a back track. As soon as he took the stage, the masses would come piling in to the bar.

Like any bar, we had our busy nights and slow nights and when we got busy, I instituted a game between the staff where we would all give about $5 before the shift and bet on what time certain events would happen. For example, what time would the first glass break, and when it happened who ever picked the time frame would win the pot for that category. Or what time would every single table be full. Or why would the first guy be thrown out that night. It was a great way to make a little extra on the side, especially because the British aren’t exactly great tippers. I loved when Americans or Scandinavians would come in the bar. I would focus most, if not all, my attention on them just because I knew they would tip.

The bar had a real family feel, probably because the bar was owned by one and my manager was the son of the owner, and after work everyone would still hang out and have a few drinks before going home. The George became like my second home, and all my football friends would come in for drinks throughout the night so there was never a dull moment.

My boss would always get on my case about how I wasn’t making things right, or I wasn’t pouring a beer the right way, or the vodka soda drinks don’t have straws in them, etc. At the end of the day, these were all English dudes on their stag parties (that’s the British version of a Bachelor party) who just want to have a good time. They don’t care what the drink looks like as long as it has an alcohol content. My manager was especially critical of my mojito making skills and it was getting to the point where I was getting fed up. Then as if the universe heard my silent suffering, a customer wrote a review on Yelp! citing the “charming American bar man…who makes a mean mojito.” When that review was posted, I basically had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted from there on out.

Things got a little heated one day as it was the hockey world cup, and the USA was playing Russia. It was a really close game until it wasn’t and we spanked Russia something like 9-2. When the last second struck, I had the Star Spangled Banner queued up on the speakers and turned up the volume, put my hand over my heart, and faced the closest American flag I could find, which happened to be on a bottle of liquor. Unfortunately, a large portion of the clientele that day was Russian, and they stopped in the bar to watch the game. When the song came on, the bar basically emptied and I caught a lot harsh words from my boss… but it was worth it.

The best time of year in Prague is the Spring when everything is blooming and there are festivals galore, most of which happen outside of my bar. It got a little chaotic at times traversing the tourists trying to get to work, but I did my best not to take it for granted and just wanted to take every moment of it in lest I forget.

The great thing about where I was working is that it was so central to everything and there was never a lack of excitement. My friends ended up being my co-workers and we would celebrate birthdays together, meet celebrities that came in to the bar while the were filming movies (a big industry in Prague is the movie industry, as a lot of people want to film there) and complain about the way the bar was run when the manager wasn’t around. Spending 12-15 hours a day with these people it started to feel like I was putting roots down. Which made it really difficult when I had to leave.

When I told them it was my time to go the manager didn’t miss a beat and immediately started looking to replace me. The others at least took the time to express how sad they were that I’d be gone. I am still in touch with my friends at the George and in hindsight loved working there. Looking back, it is hard to say what I enjoyed more, the workplace or getting to work. Every time I turned the corner to get in to Old Town Square, I would stop dead in my tracks, look around, and just reflect. “I can’t believe I work here,” I would think to myself. I didn’t want it to get old, and it never did. I was very intentional in making sure some of those images of the area were burned into my memory, so as not to ever forget.

All of the pictures above are things that I passed on my way to work every single day. I have only just now realized that I have zero (0) pictures of the actual bar or me in it...so I've done the leg work for you and dug up this one from my good friend the Google:

Stay tuned for part II: football.

Until next time,


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