I Wanna Be a Bartender

Sometimes our job looks misleading. When we are behind the bar, we are in our element. It’s fun for us. In turn, it’s fun for our guests. Sometimes people see that and get an idea- “I want to be a bartender!”. Cool! We always welcome talented people, whether they have experience with it or not. Bartending was a total left turn in my career but I ended up loving it more than anything I had ever done before. But while we always welcome people who show interest, there are always a few wildcards in the mix.

Once before, I hired the wrong person. I’ll just call him Carson again. I gave Carson the usual spiel about what the job would entail, what the obstacles would be, how daunting the memorization of recipes will be, how stressed you’re going to feel as a trainee, what your body is going to feel like when you first start. He appeared to be excited by the challenge and didn’t hesitate to accept, even after the second interview. He got through his first day and it wasn’t anything noteworthy. He didn’t impress the team but he also didn’t appall the team. He didn’t seem like he was engrossed in the process, but he also didn’t seem detached from it. One day of work, surely I shouldn’t overthink it. Second day comes around and he’s late. Third day in and he starting to vocalize complaints… long hours, tiresome, can’t remember the recipes, having trouble  communicating with people as a trainee.

I’m really not one to say I told you so. However, I’m also not one to sympathize complaints when the reality is just that, I told you so. I stay positive, but remind him that these are all things he should have been expecting. The day goes on. He starts asking for shots. Now, I’m not opposed to the team having a pour of social lubricant but I trust my team. They work their asses off and are dedicated to the bar, even beyond their scheduled shifts. Carson, on the other hand, displays a work ethic that I’m unsure of. I tell him no and move on. No more than an hour later, he asks me if he can be cut. 3 days of work and you’re already trying to get out early? Literally none of the staff asks to leave early, and they’ve all been there 6 months at least.

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with the details. Short story shorter, I obviously hired someone who just wanted a job. His presence was toxic to all 9 of the amazing people that I work with. They deserve better. They deserve to work amongst people who have as much passion as they do. I quietly let him go. At first, he acted confused and questioned my decision but as we talked, it became obvious even to himself. I thanked him for joining us and wished upon him that he finds what it is he truly wants to do.

I don’t have unrealistic expectations about what people will and won’t be passionate about. And more specifically, I certainly don’t expect people to really know if they would hate or love working at a bar. What I do expect from a person (especially one that I hire) is that you take pride in what you have chosen to do. If you look at your work as if it is just a job, it’s always going to be just a job. An army of average people could never accomplish what a small group of passionate people could.

So to all of you good people out there who take pride in what you do, thank you. Thank you for setting the example for the rest of the world that no matter what profession you are in, you are taking it seriously and treating it delicately. Whether it’s a door greeter who makes you feel welcome, a nurse who makes you feel cared for, or a bartender who gives you companionship- thank you.

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