I had the chance to see life through a different set of eyes last night. Similar to such 80’s classics as Vice Versa and Trading Places, I experienced something so far yet so close to my normal life. I had the opportunity to guest-bartend at my favorite neighborhood bar. The idea came to me about a month ago while sitting in the very same establishment. I had waited tables and tended bar while in college and had thought about trying to pick up a few shifts a week since movie to the city. I am one of those very few people that actually liked that line of work. You get to meet a lot of people, have fun, and make great money.
Once the date was set and I knew I was going to get to jump to the other side of the bar for a few hours it was time to promote. This is an odd feeling I’ve never really done. It was nothing more than putting a few emails together, which included a photoshoped picture of my face on Tom Cruise body from the movie Cocktail. Go big or go home right! So the emails went out and so did the hope that a good number of people would show up.
I got to the bar a little earlier to get the lay of the land down. I went from one end of the bar to the other. Looking for mixers, juices, bottles, towels, just taking it all in before the masses of people came barreling through the doors. After about 20 minutes of going over the entire make up of the bar I felt anxious but ready to get the party started. I was in uniform, khaki pants and a newly (as in that day) purchased black polo shirt from the gap, and a whole lot of butterflies.
Slowly friends and coworkers started to stroll in, usually in small groups. Most of these friends, who were now patrons of mine for the night were really welcoming and kind, as I’m sure that they could see the small “deer in the headlights” look that was probably strewn across my face. There, however were few exceptions as there always seems to be…the worst was a handful of nickels that were thrown in my direction by a friend of mine after grabbing his freshly pour cocktail. (I later found out he had had very rough night)
The biggest difference between waiting tables and tending bar is power. While waiting on someone, they get what they want, how they want it, and in a timely manner. “Sure, we can steam those veggies and put them on the side sir.” The power rest in the customer’s lap. However while standing behind the bar and in front of just about everything they want, you have the power. They need you to help them, they need you to get them exactly what they want. There is no other route to try and get where they are headed. They cannot go around you, they have to go through you. I have to admit it’s a cool feeling, but not enough to be a dick while behind the bar. It’s just that reason that I tried to hide my inexperience with a nice look and timely service.
I do have a whole new respect for the people who make their living or even make extra cash by pouring the poison. The people keep getting to new level in intoxication as the night goes on, while you continue to reside in soberville. They keep screaming louder and more often and they continue to take what seems like an eternity to order two Miller Lites and a Jack and Coke. So to the people that stand between bar and in front the bottles we all love so much, I salute you!
Thanks for listening