Now that the Wall Street bankers, our Congress, and the President have decided to put the United States of America on a crash course with a credit default scare, everyone about now is a little worried that all of the financial markets are going to come tumbling down and those nice people who told us that investments and 401K plans were the smart way to go are currently loading unmarked $100 bills into private jets en route to some bank in the Cayman Islands, the idea of working a ‘cash that day’ job seems the intelligent choice.
Yes, that’s right, no receipts, no proof, just work, smile, serve some drinks, make some people laugh, and skip, happily away with a wad of cash for your efforts.
This is the life of a bartender.
Now what seemed like a default choice of my own may just be the thing that saves my ass when this whole economy comes crashing down upon everyone’s feet.
Listen up kids, do what you good ole bartender did! Try your hand at being a writer! Drop out of high school! Go develop a narcotics addiction! Live your life free of college debt and horrid academic graduate school garbage! Get drunk all the time! Date only strippers and women who suffer from severe depression!
Okay. Maybe all of that is a complete line of bullshit. This way of life is not for the faint of heart.
Still, there are some of you out there who have lost their jobs during this damn recession, and now are looking for some way to stand on their own two feet. And, the first question I get all the time is:
How Do I Become A Bartender?
Now I have just the solution towards this plight.
But, I will start with some warnings.
As a bartender, or any position in the food/beverage industry, there are some essential risks by making this lifestyle choice.
Let me ask you a series of personal questions (and if you answer YES to any of these, please consider a different profession):
1. Do you like getting up early and smelling the fresh, clean air?
2. Does the idea of living in a perpetual state of darkness bother you?
3. Do you try to surround yourself with people who are uplifting, inspiring you to greater heights, and challenge you emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually?
4. Do you like health insurance?
5. Do you have strong sexual morals?
6. Do you like job security?
7. Do you seek parental approval of your life decisions?
8. Did you go to bartending school?
9. Do you have a drinking problem? (because you will after serving people for any time over six months)
10. Do you enjoy being treated like a servile imbecile by those who are neither smarter, more ambitious, or with as much experience in dealing with customers than you (i.e. restaurant managers)?
If you’ve answered ‘no’ to all of these questions, we can now move on to How To Become A Bartender.
First things first. DO NOT GO ON CRAIG’s LIST!
Craig’s List signifies two things right off the bat:
1. The Restaurant/Bar is new. Which means you will not make any money at all. Which means the management probably has no fucking clue how to run a business. Which means they will treat you like shit. Or,
2. There is no good rapport between staff and management. Any bar gets their staff from other staff recommendations. That’s just how it works. As my best friend J puts it, the bar world is a “cult of personality”. So, if the staff hates the management (as they often do), then the management must resort to Craig’s List ads to find decent help. Which means that the managers are a bunch of self-righteous assholes. Which means no one drinks with them after their shift. Which means you will make no money AND be demeaned daily.
Second things second, do not hand in a resume. This isn’t rocket science. The resume in the bartending world is the most retarded, useless invention ever created. What does it really show? You can use Microsoft Word Templates? You know your friends phone numbers who will pose wonderfully as managers from other bars?
I can tell a real bartender from a poseur in under an hour by putting that person behind the bar. How do you handle your speed rail? How do you talk to your customers? The proof is right there in the pudding. If they stand there like a deer in headlights and fumble the money and bottles like a blind juggler, you can be rest assured your new employee has never stood on a greasy bar mat in their lives.
Here’s the sad and horrible truth about how to become a bartender.
You HAVE to work for several years at horrid, disgusting, self-debasing, and abusive bars to earn your way up the ‘ladder’ to the final two goals of all bartender life: The Dive Bartender or The Fine Dining Bartender (these being the two pinnacles whom all strive for which I will discuss in future blogs).
Or you have to sleep with the right person.
Or your father is a part owner.
Or you’re an incredibly hot woman.
Although most people think that it’s a side job easily attainable, bartending is much like everything else: you have to work your way up, the right people have to like you, and you need to be lucky.
The only true secret I can offer is this:
Find a bar you love to drink at, love the bartenders at, and want to work at, and drink there ALL THE TIME. You personality will be discovered because of the truth inducing liquid of alcohol. And if the right bartender digs you, you’re on the fast track to success.
Other than that, drop those crazy notions of personal pride, integrity, and mental stability, roll up your sleeves, and jump head first into the shark tank.
Good luck, and I’ll see you at the bars.
Stay tuned for the next installment: Bartending Secrets (part 2)