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Working 9 to 5 (a.m. that is)

April 29, 2012
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

Back when I was pursuing my acting career in New York City and L.A., I would tend bar and waitress as a means to an end. My shift was 9 to 5, but not the hours you might think. It was an evening shift from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. with the last call from the bar being at 3:45 a.m.

The legal time for bar closings were at 4 a.m. and I helped clean up and restock the bar with the help of the barbacks so we could close by 5.

Barbacks were like busboys for the bar. They did heavy lifting of cases of bottled drinks, washed up glasses and were generally poorly paid, uneducated laborers.

The next part of my routine was going to after-hours bars to wind down after working all night. I'd meet up with other waitresses and bartenders who were also working that schedule, and who were the mainstay clientele of the after-hours bars. We would then get together for brunch at a diner or other 24-hour establishment.

The reason I bring this up is because Herman was asking me if I was always a poor sleeper with odd sleeping habits.

Insomnia and staying up all night kind of runs in my family, but my reversed work schedule from the rest of the world certainly didn't help the situation.

This was back in the 1980s and early 1990s when I was young enough to ignore the long-term consequences of such a lifestyle.

Herman's face was priceless as I was describing my escapades to him.

I won't tell you all the things I took for tips. Suffice it to say, it wasn't all cash. But I can list a few things that were precious to me.

One such tip was a set of Frank Sinatra's unreleased recordings from studio sessions at Warner Brothers that a patron of mine was a producer for. They are excellent quality, analog tapes called "test recordings."

Another tip was a portrait of me by the well-known artist Peter Max who drew my profile as I was waiting tables.

A third tip was the great apartment I got at 72 Barrow St. with a courtyard which I've spoken of before.

Another benefit of working nights was the fact I could go to auditions during the day to pursue my dream of acting and or go to the beach and catch some rays in summer.

So you could say the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. shift was perfect for me at that time in my life.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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