Happy Hours

Mr Kazantzakis, the Lifetime General Manager of the Lucerne Valley Hotel, called TJ into his office. He said, “I have noticed that the bar takings are down again this month. This is the third month in a row. Do you know why?”

TJ was confused. He was only the night-receptionist, so why was Mr Kazantzakis asking him? And then he thought, does he think I am stealing money? An irregular wave of worry crossed his face, and a sheen of sweat appeared upon his forehead and temples.

Mr Kazantzakis must have seen this, and said, “I have asked the barman already. He is good at mixing drinks, but not so good at mixing thoughts. He has no idea why people are buying fewer drinks. They are some of our highest margin items, and that’s why I called you in. I want your input. Have you noticed anything different recently?”

TJ focussed his thoughts, which caused another wave to cross his face, but this time a steadier one with less splashback. “We have had more men than women coming in, so fewer cocktails sold. But the men have been ordering micro-brews, so we’re increasing sales value.” The wave slowed and disintegrated. “Ah! Some guests have asked if we have a Happy Hour. When I’ve said no, they have gone elsewhere for their evening’s drinking. Come to think of it, there have been quite a few…”

“So you think that holding a Happy Hour would help?”

“Business increased by fifty percent when we tried it before.”

Mr Kazantzakis winced. Yes, it had been a successful promotion, but The Authority had instructed him to end such activities “promoting immoderate consumption” of alcoholic drinks. He had been told to keep prices above the set minimums. No half-price drinks were allowed. Rather than quibble, Mr Kazantzakis had ended the promotion. A man must choose his battles wisely. There must be ways around the ban though.

The LGM liked empowering people. He understood the benefits of creating high-performance, leaderless teams, as long as they did what he wanted, of course. He said, “Okay TJ, please develop a theme and launch a Happy Hour next week.” He saw sweat build upon TJ’s temples. “I am sure you will do a great job.”

TJ didn’t know where to start. He hadn’t been involved in the previous promotion, and it hadn’t continued for long. Half-priced drinks, double-sized drinks, and free food were all banned. What was left?

Happy Hour. Where had the term come from? he wondered. He plugged into the e-library and found it was originally a nautical expression indicating scheduled entertainment. Long periods spent at sea created stress and boredom, which affected sailors’ mental health, and petty frustrations led to fights. To combat these dangers captains arranged weekly bouts of boxing and wrestling, accompanied by drinking and singing. At dusk on Friday nights many ships would be rocking, regardless of sea conditions.

TJ printed posters saying “Avast Ye Landlubbers! Fight, Sing & Drink All Night at HMS Lucy, the Captain’s Hotel”. He wasn’t sure if Mr Kazantzakis would approve of this theme. Maybe it wasn’t an image he wished to promote.

Things went well on the first Friday night. The bar was rowdy, featuring many forms of debauchery, and its captain of chaos seemed to be the LGM. He was stripped to the waist, downing tankards, kissing girls, singing shanties, and trading punches with all comers. When he saw TJ, he began shouting, “You’re fired! You’re fired!”

Was he really saying that TJ was fired?

No he wasn’t.

“You’re tired! You’re tired!” His words were slurred but enthusiastic. “Good job TJ! Take the night off!”

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