Somewhere I’m alone, won’t you take my empty hands. And fill them with your love, won’t you take me as I am.

Behind the bar hangs a black T-shirt picturing a man who resembles the country singer Willie Nelson. “It’s the bar manager, Nick,” confides Adam. “We call him Ranch Garvey. It’s his alter ego. He’s like John Belushi, but smarter.” He holds up a plastic container filled with spare change. “See? It’s Ranch Garvey’s quadruple bypass fund. ‘Cause the dude’s gonna have a heart attack.”

Two bottles of rum. Me and my buddy,” repeats Ryan, obviously proud of his feat.

“Thank you. It’s such an honor to be here, you guys,” says Rachael Lampa.

“I don’t want to go down [to St. Paul], man, get shot with rubber balls,” says Adam. “I have to work tomorrow. They’ve got me chained to the radiator here. They only let me out to make your drinks.” He winks at the chef, who is walking behind the bar and carrying a plate heaped with fried pickles. The chef pauses momentarily to watch Rachael Lampa, who is singing a second song, entitled “Blessed”:

I may never climb a mountain so I can see the world from there. I may never ride the waves and taste the salty ocean air.

Or build a bridge that would last a hundred years. But no matter where the road leads one thing is always clear.

I am blessed. I am blessed. From when I rise up in the morning till I lay my head to rest. I feel You near me. You soothe me when I’m weary. Oh, Lord, for all the worst and all the best I am blessed.

The chef drops the pickles and heads back to the kitchen. “The voice of America, man,” he says, walking away. “The voice of America.”

Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.