It was my fault. It didn't matter that I'd had the shittiest week on record. It didn't matter that I was bone tired from working extra hours on top of studying and practicing. All that mattered was that I screwed up.
It started off innocently enough. I had just started my shift. A woman came in and asked for a glass of wine to go with her cigarette. I complied and even lit her cigarette for her—the polite gesture of any good bartender. She drank her wine faster than I expected, but she didn't ask for another. She paid and left. Her cigarette still burned in the ashtray. Apparently.
I let the stuff sit for a while. Hell, we were slow, and the people at the table around the corner were so drunk they were liable not to care. After fifteen minutes or so the bartender in me dumped the ashtray and cleaned up the slight mess. That's what bartenders do.
Something's burning, I noticed a few minutes later. I went back to check the popcorn machine, which was frequently left on by all the bartenders on staff. I came out of the office (where the popcorn machine was kept) to find flames shooting up out of the trash can. I mean, almost to the ceiling. I grabbed a pitcher and filled it with water and threw it on the fire. Just then, Jen, from the Heurot (a Vikingesque bar with more than thirty kinds of beers on tap), walked in. "Get the water gun!" she yelled, because this type of thing happened at the Heurot all the time. Together, we got the fire out, although you could probably smell it through the whole hotel by that point.
In my defense, there was no smoke coming from the ashtray. The sneaky cigarette buried the cherry. But that doesn't change a thing. I screwed up. I admit it.
What is the point of this story? You can get lucky even when you screw up.