His name was Root and he was to be my slave for the rest of the night. He was Dutch and when he first told me his name I thought he said ‘Roo.’
Roo would have been okay. I could handle Roo.
‘Root’ was another matter. But people name their kids all sorts of crazy things these days so you just have to accept that he may have been named after a part of a plant. Maybe it was a common name in Holland.
I was the cashier for the gig and he was the bar runner. He would do as I say which was commonly one of these things:
Bottle of red
Bottle of white
For I was a slave to the customers and their sweaty wads of cash.
If he had been a real slave and not getting paid $31 per hour (Sunday rates, same as me) I would’ve ordered him to perhaps, rub my feet (sore from the previous week of waitressing) buy me one of those delicious smelling pizzas in the van next to us and please, please pop that yellow pimple on your chin because, well, it’s a bit yuck.
I tried to be a good master, I tried not to yell out the orders but sometimes Root acted like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an on-coming truck. Was I the truck? Or was it the culprit the current customer, the aggressive Santa with the strong Aussie accent?
‘I SAID RED WINE MATE NOT BLOODY WHITE!’
Bad Bar Runner! BAD!
When it did slow down, the one slow moment where the crowd was not looking to intoxicate themselves – drunk on the music instead, PK’s ‘Dumb Things’ – Root and I danced a little. A sort of bopping from side to side in front of my cash register.
He told me that he had been in Australia for only a few weeks. He had done the WA coast in a week, because: ‘Why would you need more than that?’ Stopping at the attractions during the day and driving through the night. You don’t need longer than a day to see one beach. He had scored a job at the local IGA just by posting an ad on gumtree. You know those desperate ones like: ‘Good worker, single Dutch guy want work?’
Apparently they do work.
And then he had gotten the shift at the gig too. Like me, and ten others, we were donning black tees and serving a crowd of two thousand on Cable Beach.
By the end of the night Root and I parted ways without a single see you or, ‘I’ll add you to facebook’. Our relationship was complicated. He was free from the shackles of the bar and from me shouting orders.
I counted my till, it was up $6,000. It had been a team effort, but Root had fled before I could tell him of our achievements.
I didn’t ask to be the slave master, I wanted to be Spartacus – the good guy.
After the gig, feeling depressed and sorry for myself I went to Dominoes.
I ate a whole pizza.