Recently, I’ve been editing in bars after my evening assignments. They’re almost always high school basketball games, so I’ll easily have a thousand or more frames and will need anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to cull, caption, tone, crop, and file, depending on how tired and/or distracted I am.
This photo is of Chrissy at The Torch down in Flint, the back door of which is 20 feet across the alleyway from the paper’s downtown office. When I got there a couple of nights ago at about 10pm, Jake May was already sitting at the end of the bar, sorting through his game night haul. We ordered sandwiches and beers. He told me that Chrissy made the best burger in town. I watched her cook while they bantered back and forth a little bit—her movements were fluid and precise.
I think becoming a regular at a bar is a way of signaling, whether you mean it or not, that you feel comfortable somewhere and with certain people—that, at the (literal) end of the day, you don’t consider your own business to be any more important than just existing within your environment and paying attention to what’s happening inside of it. It’s why the trope of “Which politician would you have a beer with?” exists. What you’re asking is, “Which elected official feels most like a person in front you and least like a talking head from Mars?”
This is also why I am now working in bars (here in Saginaw, I like Mac’s in Old Town) instead of going right home after assignments, like I had been during my first few weeks here: journalists have got to remain regular people too. I put it like that because, like a politician, I sometimes feel like it’s my job to be everywhere all the time—to step out of life itself and examine it from a distance. Don’t get me wrong. It’s always an interesting process and I’m glad it’s what I doing for a living. I’m just trying to remember to step back in once I’m done.