When working in a dive bar, you’ve always got to be on the alert. A fight might be about to break out. A drunk could be ready to fall and crack his skull. Someone might be stealing something out of one of the package good fridges, or money off of the bar. You even got to watch outside. A thief could be taking tires from a parked car. You just never know what’s going to happen.
Some twenty years ago, I ran a tavern — The Tunnel Bar — just outside the Holland Tunnel on the Jersey City side. Murders and melees were not unknown. And as many of the customers were career criminals, visits from the police and even the Feds were fairly common.
One beautiful spring day, I actually almost relaxed. It was around 3PM. The place was empty. It was the first warm day, so I’d opened both doors — the Henderson Street side and the 15th Street side.
A small, nondescript car stopped on Henderson Street. I didn’t recognize the vehicle or the lone occupant. He leaned over to peer into the doorway. This sort of thing happened all the time. People were either looking for someone who owed them money or they were looking for somebody to borrow money from. As there was nobody in the tavern, I was certain that the guy’d just drive away. He didn’t. He made a right and parked on 15th Street and then got out. It was a medium-height White guy looking out at the world through a pair of very dark sunglasses.
Because I couldn’t think of any good reason for someone to be looking for an empty tavern, every synapse instantly lit up from adrenaline. The guy had a funny sort of confident swagger, like I’d seen in groups of police, but he was all by himself. His hands were empty, no weapons. He walked in the door and then stopped, looking down the length of the bar. Using both hands, he took off the sunglasses.
It was Mick Jagger.
He just bought a beer and left. Presumably, traveling alone, he had looked for an empty place so as not to be hassled.