Berlin stories: About getting used to Pushkin Bar

My job at Russian restaurant ( let’s call it „Pushkin“ ) was especially hard on weekends. First I’ve agreed to work only once or twice a week, but soon enough it became 4 times a week, without any exceptions. We worked and then we got drunk. I was coming home and continued drinking with Juju and Mike and in the mornings I was back on my feet to listen to the self-obsessed talks performed by my so called boss.
Somehow the restaurant became my main woking space without me even noticing it. I started coming earlier to work and chat with the girls and drink a few cups of coffee. I came there even on my days off to get a few glasses of wine. I’ve even stayed after work to drink shots with the barkeeper. I’ve spent more and more time in that place than with anywhere else with any other person I knew. I’ve started getting attached to it and even with all it’s faults I still loved it there.

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Talking about our owner. Everybody ahted him. He was living just right about the restaurant and had the magical 6th sense to walk on us while we were drinking, smoking a cigarette, chatting on our phones or doing anything but work. He was a strict Russian man in his 40s with an unaccomplished career as an artist, no family and a big ego. I’ve heard some stories that he slept with all of the pretty young girls that were working at the restaurant, but I thought that it was none of my business. So I didn’t care about it. Despite all of it, we actually had a pretty good relationship. I think I can say that he has even liked me in his own way.

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Whenever he came in, he smiled at me, made jokes and if he caught me doing something I shouldn’t do , like drinking champagne at 12 in the morning, he only made fun about it , touched my shoulder and went back to his apartment.Sometimes he said something like
„If I only were a few years younger“ to wich I smiled politely and answered, „…if only …“. I enjoyed his company.I think I was the only one who really did. He was very intelligent and smart.We talked a lot about movies, literature, and his adventures.

The Chef was a big asshole. That’s even a compliment. When he took off his uniform he was nice, reminded me of my father’s generation of the Russian man, but when he was in his role as Chef he was unbearable. He screamed. No – he screamed a lot. He was too slow when the rush hour came, so whenever anyone complained about it ( I never would because I am not crazy) he got mad, threw food, plates and tried to get people fired. A few times he even did. The thin communication line between kitchen staff and service was always in danger because of him.

The guests were actually my favorite part at the restaurant. The regulars were a colorful mixture of artists, musicians, and journalists. Some maniacs, some druggies, and some posh berlin „mitte guys“. Sometimes after finishing my shift I set with them, drinking my wine and listening to their crazy theories about the world, politics, and art. One of them was an epic alcoholic from Sweden who always tries to get me into bed. While doing that, he told me every night a different story about what he was doing for a living and why I should have loved him. I couldn’t imagine girls fall for that, but a lot of girls actually did.

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After a few month of work there, I’ve found out that this restaurant was just like anything else. Just a public whorehouse for man to cheat on their woman, girls on their boyfriends, where the guests slept with the service and the owner was the puppet player, knowing everything that was going on under his roof. Sometimes I wondered if he installed cameras all over the place, but I think he didn’t have the balls for it.
One evening I was working late and it was my fourth day in a row, so the bartender made me one especially strong gin tonic, which I was hiding behind the plates on my service station and sipped every now and then. I was a little bored and it was just one of those days where you can feel that some change is needed. Just a little one. That moment the door opened and a young guy jumped into the restaurant. The minute I saw him I knew I had to meet him. His hair was all over his face and his energy was unbearable. He was carrying a package of napkins. Everyone seemed to know him, they kissed him, they hugged him, the regulars seemed happy to see him. Everyone was asking him different questions. I was just standing there, in the back watching him. Absorbing. I liked the impact that he had on people. he was charming and good looking. Although, I didn’t understand the big excitement around him. The only thing I caught from all of that was that his name was Levin.

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„As always we are saving Pushkins ass“. He caught my sight and for a second I could feel how I started blushing and I saw him slipping a smile at me. Then as fast as he came, he disappeared. The restaurant manager came up to me „wouldn‘t be so bad to date the cute owner of the restaurant“ she said laughed annoyingly. „what do you mean?“ I couldn’t understand a thing she was saying. „ I saw the look on your face. Don’t you know him ? He is the co-owner of the third restaurant“ she said.
„But he is so young?“ I was so confused. „That’s right babe – young and totally crazy,“ she said and left me standing with my strange thoughts going around in my head. After seeing him I knew what I was missing. I missed having my crazy friends around – or was it maybe something else?

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