Even Monkeys Fall From Barstools

hawaii beach

Having nothing more than the promise I could stay on her couch and the address she had sent me, I arrived at Sue's front door in Honolulu. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had been sharing a house with three girls (Yeah!!!),  But that surprise was quickly undone when Sue informed me that they (including Sue) all had serious boyfriends (bummer).  However, I had been welcome to stay on their couch until I could find my own place.

In two months I would be getting money from the GI Bill—on the condition I was accepted by the University of Hawaii, which I was sure would be no problem.  Until then I had planned to get a part-time job to at least pull me through the summer. 

Unfortunately, in 1966 in Honolulu, getting a part-time had been very far from the cinch I had assumed it would be.  Hawaii was a tourist mecca.  The summertime was filled with temporary backpackers and summer students--many needing temporary part-time work--some apparently desperate enough to lie for it.  Employers leery of these summer job seekers that would grab one paycheck and quit, would only hire Hawaii residents or full-time students.

As soon as a prospective employer heard my UN-Hawaiian voice on the phone, I was told the position was not available.  I promised I would be in Hawaii for more than a summer.  Without calling me a liar, a typical reply would be something like, "Sure, that's what they all say." or, "If the job's still open if you're here after August, please try again."

I was getting desperate.  Even with Sue and her housemates being very understanding, I hadn’t liked depending on them--staying on their couch--eating their food.

One morning, I saw and called a help-wanted ad to work as a busboy for, "Mike’s Broil Your Own Steakhouse" in Waikiki.  The bartender answered saying the manager wasn't in yet, but that he would take the basic information.  One of the questions was about my military service.  Somehow the fact came out that I had been stationed in Germany.  So had the bartender!  And although in different battalions, it turned out that we both had been housed on the same base, Panzer Kaserne.  The bartender told me to come to the restaurant around five and see the manager.  At long last, I finally got a job interview!  And with the feeling that I got from the bartender, also a job!

I arrived at Mike’s a little before five--still much too early for the dinner crowd, and except for the bartender, Sam, the guy I had talked to on the phone, the place had been empty.  Sharing our many remembrances of Panzer Kaserne, I asked, “Hey Sam, did you ever go through the hole in the fence?”

Sam replied, “Yeah, I used it more than a few times.”

“You must've gone to Mom's Gasthaus, then,”  I stated.

“Nearest bar to the hole, Good ol' Mom’s,”  Sam nostalgically said  The phone rang.  Sam answered it, talked for a few minutes, and coming back with a mug of cold draft beer, set it in front of me.  “That was the manager.  He said he’ll be a little late.”

“Sam, I can’t pay for this.”

Sam warmly said, “It’s on the f..kin’ house, ‘cruit.”

I joyfully toasted, “To my first Hawaiian beer, and to the first drink in nearly a month, and to Sam the man, the guy that made it happen!”  I brought the cool frosted mug of beer to my lips, and literally in Hawaiian lingo, sucked ‘em up.  Sam poured me another one… and another one… and another… and…  An hour had passed and the manager still hadn't arrived--but Sam, happy to talk story with me, kept the beer coming.  One more hour went by, and as Sam was pouring me another beer, the manager finally arrived.  I, having it in my mind to stand up and greet him, lost my legs and fell off the barstool.

drunk monkey

I didn't get that job, but I thoroughly enjoyed not getting it.

A couple of mornings later, I found an employment opportunity for a TEMPORARY* two-week job at the YWCA Beach Club in Waikiki.  It was perfect--a temporary job.  Everybody was temporary!  Not wasting a second, I set off for the YWCA Beach Club.  But on arrival, there had been at least fifty other temporary men already there filling out applications.  All of us applicants were told that prospective employees would be contacted by telephone.

To my complete unanticipated amazement, the next day, I had been called in for an interview.

“This bewilders me, Mr. Baer,” said the YWCA director from behind her desk. “You filed this application ten years ago—in 1956—that’s why I felt you at least deserved an interview.  You look so young.  Exactly how old are you?”

I cleared my throat. “23 next month, ma’am."

Scratching her head, she said, "You were thirteen?!"

Embarrassed at my stupidity, I explained, "Yesterday, with so many applicants, and really needing a job, I was so nervous, I must’ve written a fifty-FIVE instead of a fifty-SIX in the date box.  Sorry for the stupid mistake.”

monkey_from tree

 “Even monkeys fall from trees.” The director laughed. “Just before you came in for the interview, I looked more carefully at your application and your qualifications, being a veteran and all--and aside from the date of the application--obviously an honest mistake;  you seem like a reliable and trustworthy person.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“If you want the position…”

“I do,” said Jacky, “I need it, terribly.”

“The job is only for two weeks while the regular janitor is on vacation.  You start in the morning.”  She smiled. “The secretary will give you the details.”


*If you have an interest in "TEMPORARY" click here for "Road to Hawaii".


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Robert Red-Baer

1950-Went to Tinton Falls Elementary School, N.J.
1962-Went to Monmouth Regional HS, N.J.
1964-Graduated US Army NCO Acadamy, Germany
1971-Graduated University of Hawaii with honors
1973-Red Heart Follies (Hawaii)
1975-Japan Prime Minister's Award (Video), among many
1985-Professor Edogawa University, Chiba Japan
2010-Retired in Japan
redbaer@gmail.com