The Trainee looks the part with a fine quiff and a crisp cotton shirt, but hovers over the Manager’s shoulder like a scared child.
Spotting customers waiting at the bar the Manager urges him forward.
“Uh, hi. What can I get you?”
The Manager, under his breath: “Good. Yes.”
“Hello. A pint of Best, please, and a bottle of cider.”
A panicked glance at the Manager.
The first flicker of impatience. “Yes. The middle pump.”
The Trainee finds a suitable glass and checks it with the Manager who nods, pleased – now we’re getting somewhere. The Trainee puts the glass beneath the tap and yanks the handle as if trying to inflate a football.
“Whoah! Stop! Now, gently. Two or three long, smooth pulls.”
Second try: too gentle; the handle barely moves.
“Long, smooth pulls. Be firm. Yes, that’s it – good. You’re getting it. Perf– Oh, no, a bit more vigorous at the end or you’ll get no head. And you have to fill it to the top.”
The Trainee looks baffled and a look of despair passes over the manager’s face. Has the boy ever drunk, or even seen, a pint of beer? The Manager masters himself.
“It’s OK, I’ll sort the pint. You get the cider.”
The Trainee finds the bottle in the fridge and stands dumbly, unsure what to do next and afraid to ask the Manager for help. The Manager notices and says, “Opener, back shelf.” The Trainee finds it, a straightforward blade-style gadget, and places it against the lid of the bottle in various different ways, hoping that the trick will make itself known.
The Manager places the improved pint on the bar, turns and takes the opener, apparently now resigned to the fact that the youth knows nothing. “Like this.” Pop, psst, and the chime of metal as the cap flies into a bin.
The Manager finishes Customer One’s business and directs the Trainee to someone new at the bar, who says:
“Hi – could I have a taster of the golden ale, please?”
Trainee checks; manager nods; Trainee, suddenly over-confident, grabs a pint glass and fills it halfway with one long, smooth pull.
The Manager turns pale at the sight of his margin evaporating.
“Whoah! Use a little glass for tasters. A tiny glass. The smallest glass. Like this.”
The Manager presents something about the size of a thimble.
The Trainee stands with the half-full pint glass and lets his shoulders slump.
Just six more hours to go on this shift, and then the whole summer ahead.