Breaking down the 2021 holidays Dickens-style – Marin Unbiased Journal

Frankie Frost / IJ Archives

Jeff Burkhart

The drinks menu clacked in its printed edition, barely audible over the holiday music even though the holiday had come, and immediately caused problems. It said, “Tequila, soda, chilled, up.”

“What does that mean?” asked my co-bartender.

“What does that mean?” I asked the server.

“That’s what he said,” she replied.

The problem was twofold. Firstly, “up” means shaken with ice and then strained into a cocktail glass, and secondly, you never shake a drink with carbonated water as it loses its fizziness almost immediately.

“He says he gets it here all the time,” added the server.

I looked at the waiter and bartender and realized that the three of us had worked every shift in the restaurant. Everyone who walked through these doors came through us, so the chances that we had never heard of this drink were slim.

But there are still some people who yearn for the “customer is always right” restaurant business. This year’s Christmas celebrations have clearly shown that. The holidays are still amateur lessons, but luckily this year instead of the amateur lesson on steroids, it was amateur lesson on mute.

Technically, we’re in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas (even though it’s after New Year’s Eve) which means a Dickensian Christmas carol might still be appropriate. With that in mind, let’s break down the 2021 holidays in Dickens style.

• The Spirit of Jacob Marley:

Marley is Ebenezer Scrooge’s stingy partner, who warns him not to change his ways or risk wandering the spirit world shrouded in chains and lamenting his choices. Apparently, even in Victorian times, valuing money above people was a thing. The impetus for Scrooge’s nightly “ghostly” visits is that Scrooge does not want to give his employee Bob Cratchit off on paid Christmas days. One hundred and eighty years later, not much has changed. Nobody in the catering industry gets Christmas free, let alone paid. In fact, few people do this. So I ask you, are things getting better or worse?

• The spirit of the past Christmas season:

Remember a time when there was a serious impact if someone hit or pushed a flight attendant or service agent? It is now a weekly release. Where’s the outrage that sparked Zsa Zsa Gabor when she slapped a cop in Beverly Hills in 1989 after being pulled over for a routine traffic violation? Or the legal anger that was directed against Jim Morrison 20 years earlier when he was drunk on the way to a Rolling Stones concert and “disturbed a flight crew” and threatened him with up to 10 years in prison? I don’t know what’s happening these days, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

• The spirit of the Christmas present:

According to the Associated Press, unemployment claims for the United States nationwide are just under 200,000 from 1.7 million in March last year, meaning 1.5 million people are no longer receiving benefits. Can we please stop hearing how unemployment insurance is fueling labor shortages? Every restaurant I know is still looking for people. Obviously something else is going on. Maybe people just don’t want to work for people like Scrooge anymore. Just a thought.

• The spirit of the Christmas future:

“Everywhere people confuse what they read in newspapers with news,” wrote journalist AJ Liebling. And that is even more true today. Everything has become famous. Instead of Julia Child we now have Gordon Ramsay, instead of Walter Cronkite we have Tucker Carlson. Bravery and loudness are a big part of the news these days, and it’s embarrassing to see it. Instead of real stories about real things, it’s all clickbait. Social media sites have made a lot of people think they are more important than anyone else. And once you think that, anything is possible.

However, there are still bright spots for the future. I applaud the man on this plane who confronted the so-called “Delta Karen” and received a slap in the face. (She was arrested.) We need more people like him.

Leave me with these thoughts:

• “The only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn anything from history,” wrote the German philosopher Georg Hegel.

• “Humanity was my business. The common good was my business; Charity, Compassion, Forbearance, Benevolence were all my business. The business of my trade was just a drop of water in the vast ocean of my business! ”Spoke the spirit of Jacob Marley, as it was written by Charles Dickens in” A Christmas Carol “.

• Saying “I come here all the time” sounds hollow to those who are actually always there.

• Let’s hope for a happy new year. I think we could all really use it now.

Jeff Burkhart is the author of Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II“, The host of the Barfly podcast on iTunes and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him below and contact him at