Monday, October 18, 2010

Customer of the Month

I have walked past the Cheerful Tortoise so many times and never considered going inside. To me, the place seemed closed-off and depressing. Black, concrete block walls with no windows just seemed too uninviting. With nicknames I thought it would feel like a casino, where without a sense of what is happening outside one loses track of time. In my initial visit I met a self-proclaimed professional gambler, so it seemed I might be on to something.

See if you can follow along while "the gambler" explains his surefire method of winning at Roulette. (Diagram on right)
Click here to listen. (opens in a separate tab)

By interviewing bartenders and patrons I found the opposite to be true. All three bartenders I talked to used the word "fun" to describe their work. They told me the atmosphere ranges from calm to "crazy" on nights when it fills up with PSU students. When asked about the feeling of working inside of a building without windows the staff said it doesn't bother them a bit. They were too distracted making conversation and banter with the patrons. One student (June's Customer of the Month) who was there for breakfast said he considers this his neighborhood bar, although he told me he lives near OHSU. When I asked why he likes coming to Cheerful Tortoise he said it's the only place where the bartenders have learned his name. "When I steps inside, someone always says, 'Hi John'". Jared, who has bar tended all over the US and in the Caribbean told me his view. "A bar, is a bar, is a bar..." and they're basically all the same to work in. But I caught him later admitting that the rewarding part of his work is "building relationships" and making "human connections." I thanked him for the interview and asked for my tab but he said it was on the house.

Above: Customer of the Month Wall

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