It got to the point where I trusted Brita enough to give her a little leeway in terms of work hours. As long as she didn’t miss any classtime, and Floggin’ Brews was cleaned up in time for customers (and during customers), Brita was allowed to work hours that worked best for her. So I got used to slightly odd hours on Brita’s time card.
I was 30 minutes late coming in the other morning to open the bar. When I walked in the door, there was a mopped floor, empty trash cans . . . and Brita and Boss both staring at a chess board, game in progress.
Brita was white, and it looked like Boss spotted her a knight. They were in the middle of a Petrov’s Defense game (with Boss’ queen’s knight missing).
I wondered how Boss got Brita to remove the queen’s knight from the board, but then Boss always did communicate well.
(How did they negotiate playing at all? you ask. You’re a smart cookie — you can figure that out.)
I got busy getting the bar ready. Not only was the floor clean and trash cans emptied and wiped out, but the ice bins were already full, lights were on, coffee brewing, and hot water started. I made a mental note to bump up Brita’s pay rate a bit. I watched the game out of the corner of my eye.
Boss’ play is interesting. Without an opposing thumb, Boss can’t handle pieces Herself. But then I noticed that She plays Brita the same way She plays me — She’d mmrrph and touch a piece gently, and mmrrph again when Brita would put Boss’ piece where She wanted it.
By the end of midgame, Boss was clearly in command of the board. Brita laid her king down as one does when conceding a game, and straightened up.
“Wow. Boss really plays a good game.”
“Yeah. She has a master’s rating.”
“How? Don’t you have to play in person at tournaments?”
“Naw. She got a dispensation, claiming she is unable to travel and proving that She plays without advice from others. I think they gave it to Her after She beat a couple of grandmasters who knew She was a cat. They wanted to keep a lid on that.”
(I was tickled that Brita didn’t say, “WHAT?!” when I mentioned Boss’ chess rating. She just rolled with the news.)
Brita stared at me for a moment (most people do when I explain that) and then shook her head. “This place is crazy.”
“Maybe,” I admitted. “But it’s a good kinda crazy. By the way, thank you for getting the bar started. It makes my life much easier. You might make a good barback.”
“I’d like to learn how to run all of the bar.”
“You’re a bit too young for that yet. You can’t touch the alcohol at all. You learn to be a barback, that’ll give you a head-start on being a bartender. Deal?”
“Deal.” We shook on it.