Friday, February 13, 2015

Galway: Jeans Friday

I finally started to feel like I was leading and contributing at work today. Being a gap filler, I have a good sense now of what they need me to do. No one thought to tell me that the Galway office has jeans Fridays—but I won’t forget next week. And every Friday, the team has a “time out” mid-morning at the canteen with biscuits and cakes. It was a nice way to build comradery.

Now that I am getting used to the bus system, I decided to take an alternate route home. I discovered that there are two routes that start in the same place—Galway’s central square, where most buses start—and then end up at the same place, which is just down the street from the Fidelity offices. So when a 403 (instead of the 409 I usually take) was the first to show up, I braved the unknown and was rewarded with new views through a more residential part of town.

Dinner tonight was at Martine’s, a French restaurant at the other end of Quay Street (part of the pedestrians-only area) down by the river. Being Friday night, it was very crowded—which is generally a good sign. They could only put me at the bar, where I was treated to watching the bartender work his magic.  He struck me as someone who really loves his job and is good at it. The thirty-something fellow sitting next to me was an entrepreneur who was just launching an app that offers loyalty/rewards programs for multiple establishments.  Martine’s was one of his clients.
Like many restaurants, Martine’s has what they call an “Early-bird Special,” except that you can get it anytime of day, and there is nothing “early” about it.  (Nancy would have told them that they should call it a “fixed-price meal.”)  I ordered a mixed green salad with beets and goat cheese, the fresh hake, and the crème brulée. Pretty French, huh? On the way out, I ran into a woman who works at Fidelity, and her husband.

I decided that tonight was the night to hit the pubs and take in a little “trad” music. I was feeling more in tune with the time zone, and my body was definitely feeling more normal. The board at Taaffe’s had said the music started at 9:30, so I walked up the street and, since it was close to 9:00, decided to go on in—which was a good thing, because it was already starting to get crowded.  Scoping out the room, I saw at the back a platform, about 4' x 6', raised about ten inches off the floor. It looked large enough for one musician, maybe two at most. I bought a ginger ale and staked out a place to stand near the platform, at a doorway leading to the restrooms. With every passing minute, more people packed into the pub, more alcohol was consumed, and more trips were made to the bathroom.

My ginger ale was long gone by the time the first musician appeared at 9:42. He started setting up microphones, plugging in cables, and not one, not two, but four stools on that tiny stage. That done, he left. About ten minutes later, he came back with a guitar, and eventually he was joined by a fiddle, banjo, and accordion. At 10:09, when there was no room left to stand or even move anywhere in the pub, they started to play.

Fortunately, the music was amplified because there was a lot of other noise—but despite the continuing talk, everyone was very attentive to the musicians, who were quite good. I struck up a conversation with a couple of late-twenty-something guys standing close to me after an older man, completely drunk, spit in one of their faces while trying to tell him something. We also saved another drunk from ending up on the floor by holding him upright long enough so others could start pushing him along through the crowd. (At some point, he probably ended up on the floor anyway.)

I lasted through four sets before beginning to work my way back to the front door.  I must have really wanted to do this because I did not feel claustrophobic or anxious with the crowd—but I was glad to get out into the fresh, chilly air.

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