First of all, I’d like to say how excited I was to be asked to write an article for the City Paper‘s year-end issue. I’m really jazzed you’re reading my article right now. This is awesome. We should be friends. You can Facebook me if you want. I’m serious.

Let it be known that I’m no complainer. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky, glass-half-full kind of guy. I try to focus on the good and make the best of things, so it caught me off guard when I was asked, “What’s your beef?”

I began racking my brain in a quest of self-discovery, trying to think of something that drives me crazy. It wasn’t long before a list began to form. Yankees (both the baseball team and Northerners in general), the fact that my Panthers have looked more like kittens all year, or how my little brother never moves his back row in Checkers. Then there’s the fact that I graduated college during a recession or that despite all rationale, it’s still illegal to smoke a joint. Still, none of that beef is succulent enough for City Paper readers. You guys deserve the best, so I dug deeper.

For the past several years, I’ve depended on the generosity of random strangers to help me pay my student loans back and scrape out a living. I’m a bartender, and I know what you’re thinking. You saw that Tom Cruise flick Cocktail from the ’80s, so you know everything there is to know about making a living behind a bar. Right? Wrong. I’ve never stood on my bar and recited poetry. I’ve never wondered who invented the plastic thing at the end of your shoelace. And I have never made out beneath a waterfall as “Shelter of Your Love” played in the background. (Note to self: Add that to my bucket list)

I’ve got it pretty good, I’ll admit. I mean look at my picture. Seriously? How many other jobs could I really do?

Anyway, the saying is that a bartender is the king of the working class, and I may be, but heavy is the head that wears the crown. Your shit show is my shift. My dinner is your breakfast. Your Saturday night is my hump day. We’re in the same building, but we’re on different planets.

As a bartender, I deal with a lot of bullshit. I could gripe for days. Let’s see. You tip like an asshole. You miss the toilet. You cry in the middle of my bar … and that’s just Tuesday. I’ve seen it a thousand times.

Although I tend bar for a living, my gripe has nothing to do with drunks or brawlers. My beef is not with shitty tippers or scumbags that hit on every chick that walks through the door. My beef is not with the guy who, even though I put a coaster directly in front of him, still manages to set his beer on my bar. It’s not even the guy who knows just enough of the lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believin'” to scream them at the top of his lungs in the middle of my bar. Hey dude, you don’t even know the second verse. I can tell. You’re just moving your mouth and mumbling. Get the hell out of my bar.

My biggest gripe is that no matter how much of myself I pour into this 650-word blurb, no matter how hard I try to make sure my punctuation is correct, it really wouldn’t matter. Not even if this article contained the meaning of life.

My beef is with people who don’t read. I’m not talking about the illiterate. I’m talking about people who can read but choose not to. I hate those assholes.

Just think. I could be spelling out my master plan about how I intend to enslave all the non-readers, and they’d be none the wiser. You thinking what I’m thinking?

Thanks for reading.