People who have never been in the bar and restaurant industry will truly never know what it is like to be part of this weird and wild community. Around the country bartenders have the same complaints and anecdotes about the ridiculous things that happen with customers and behind the scenes. There are people that become lifers, and stay in the game long enough to become managers and sometimes even owners. There are other that used it as a way to pay for college or as a part time job on the side. One thing that almost everyone who has ever worked behind a bar or with a tray in their hand will tell you is how they had amazing friendships, and how much camaraderie exists behind the scenes.
When a member of our tribe is injured, the service industry community rallies behind them because we all know that in this game taking a day off is an immediate loss in money. There aren’t a lot of locations that offer personal time off, or sick leave. Even if they did make up for your hourly wage, service folks make their money off of tips. The amount of taxes taken out of a paycheck is very high, and our hourly wage makes up very little of our income. If something catastrophic were to happen it could bankrupt us. Recently, something like that happened to one of ours right here in Anchorage.
On October 25, Jerry Montgomery went to work his normal shift at a downtown bar. When it was almost closing time there was a scuffle and while Montgomery was trying to assist the other staff in getting it handled a gun went off and struck him, injuring him severely. The bullet entered through the back of his left shoulder blade, piercing his left lung, and traveled across his spinal cord. He was paralyzed from the chest down and is now in Colorado undergoing intense physical therapy. He is still in the hospital attempting to heal as much as possible, and hopefully get full use of his legs and body back. Montgomery was a popular face among the downtown nightlife scene.
“Jerry lit up any room he walked into,” one of his friends said. “Even as a child, Jerry had a great big personality and an air of Independence. It seems like half the city of Anchorage came in to visit him after the shooting happened. He is a lovable, kind, and caring man. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”
Prior to working as a barback and bartender, Montgomery served his country for five years in the United States Army as an Airborne 12 Bravo combat engineer. He did two tours overseas. He was a proud soldier and is proud to have served this country.
Ever since this tragedy happened bartenders and bars have been wondering what they could do to help. With the help of Odom Corporation, and the cooperation of many bars in the downtown area, the solution became clear. One night, where several bars do as much as they can to help the community give back to this man. Set up as a ‘Pub Crawl’ style event, but without a map, or the need to crawl to any bars. The event, The Storm Trooper Trot and Holly Jolly Jerry Jam, will lift off Saturday, Dec. 14, simultaneously at bars around town. Each location will have their own ways to help raise funds, whether it be through silent auction, games, or simple donation boxes and special DJ’s. The funds raised will be to help with all of the extra expenses that occur when someone has to take time off of work, keep his family close to him at an out of state hospital, as well as any medical bills that may be tough to financially handle. Customers are encouraged to wear their favorite Star Wars-themed costume, Christmas-themed costume, or even combine the two themes in what they wear.
Participating bars and sponsors include Avenue Bar, Gaslight Lounge, Williwaw Social, Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge, Darwin’s Theory, Humpy’s, Pioneer Bar, Pakalolo Supply Co, Reilly’s, Crossroads, ABC Electric Tattoo, Southside Tattoo and Body Piercing, Bacardi Rum, Truly Hard Seltzer, Jameson, and Samuel Adams. These companies and locations believe in the power of this community to help a man that was injured in an act of senseless violence.
They are asking the city of Anchorage to reach their hands out to their friends and loved ones to help Jerry on his road to recovery. He has a very long and hard road to travel whether it is learning how to walk again or learning to adjust and live life from a chair. Either way we all know Jerry is going to make the best of this situation and work as hard as he can to get better as quickly as possible.