It felt innocuous as I was saying it, then I realized it was offensive.
I was visiting a bar where I’m a regular, catching up with the bartender, and I think we were talking about something vaguely political when a busser came up and asked her for something. This busser’s a cool guy, very well-intentioned, but he’s also a big-time stoner, needs to get himself red-eyed and squinty before a shift in order to even walk through the door.
The discourse around getting stoned is generally playful, with most people cognizant at this point of its medical benefits and the harmless silliness of its effects if you’re smoking recreationally, but there does seem to be something sad about the handful of people I know who hit their bong for forty minutes in order to numb themselves before doing something arduous or mundane.
Before showing up to work, mainly.
And the few heavy smokers I know are pretty vocal about using it as a crutch sometimes, or as an escape, and it seems like one of the byproducts of numbing yourself with weed is that it prompts a kind of relaxed self-awareness about what you’re doing. A self-acceptance. Self-forgiveness. They’ll tell me that marijuana is not itself addictive, as we all know, but that, if you’ve got an addictive personality, then it doesn’t really matter what you’re laying your hands on, the point is that you’re using it to escape.
Which is topical to another part of my life because I’ve been having a problem at work with two heavy smokers. Very sweet, very hard working, very smart–but they get so fucking toasted before a shift that they botch their orders, ask me to prepare cocktails and then forget to pick them up until the ice has melted; they jot down someone’s order and then can’t read their handwriting once they’re back at the computer typing it in…
They slow things down. It’s annoying but, again, it’s also sad because they’re clearly so averse to being here that they basically have to completely numb themselves. Which I can understand.
I’m here at the bar.
This busser comes in. He’s high. Excuses himself and asks my bartender friend a question.
Judging from her expression, the answer to the question is obvious.
I figure the answer’s obvious because, as soon as she tells him where to find what he’s looking for, the bussertouches his head and squints and goes, “Oh riiiight. I knew that.”
Then he’s off to finish his task.
When we’re alone again the bartender gives me a tight-lipped, wide-eyed look. Leans across the bar. Tells me in a whisper, “Sweetest guy. Don’t get me wrong. But holy shit. He’s a fucking idiot.”
And since I was in my cups, and I guess just trying to say something rather than nothing, I nodded. “Yeah,” I said. “Our profession doesn’t really draw super bright people.”
Now, I’m cringing, but at the moment I just wanted to say something, anything, so we could get back to our topic.
My friend’s brow knit slightly and she said, “That’s not necessarly true.”
And then I knit my own brow: “It isn’t. I don’t know why I said that.”
What I guess burdens the experience, apart from wondering why my conversational filler-noise, on that occasion, happened to be kinda douchey and prejudicial, is something I’ve mentioned on the podcast before: I tend to be dismissive of myself, and of my abilities, and to use my work as grounds for particularly scathing self-assessment. In my head I’ll call myself “just” a bartender or, a year ago, “just” a “busboy” (as opposed to the more respectful and appropriate “busser”).
In saying something disparaging about the busser, I think I was trying to say something disparaging about myself.
Whatever the case–she wasn’t angry with it, she just corrected the impression, and I nodded, and said I didn’t know why I even said that, and we moved on.
But days later it’s following me around.