As some of my close friends already know, I have been in the food service industry for about 5 and a half years. I’ve worked from dishwasher, server, manager, host, and bartender. Bartending during the end of my college years and a few months post grad, I definitely had a vantage point that many of my peers never really experienced. This humbling, yet exciting point of view has allowed me to go down a road of self realization and has given me a brand new idea of who I aspire to become.
1.) Please and Thank You Go A Long Way
So many times, a guest would come to the bar and sit down during happy hour. “Hello sir, welcome my na-”
“Bud light.” the guest would cut me off, as he whips out his phone and starts scrolling down his newsfeed, scrolling for the happiness he will never find at the bottom of his facebook feed or the bottom of his glass.
Ok that was cold. But his nonexistent manners were bone chilling.
Seriously?! Regardless, it was my job to serve, so all I could do is bite my tongue and pretend that my feelings weren’t hurt and be nice. This was an infrequent occurrence, but it really does make all the difference when people say please. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. It lets your bartender know that he/she is appreciated as a human being, not a servant. I appreciate my mom making me say please over and over again. And I certainly have become more aware of it and be sure to say please and thank you.
2.) A Smile Can Do Wonders
There’s a reason that a smile is a universal symbol of friendliness. A smile can totally make any tensions melt away. A smile costs you nothing, but can give you so much. And it is almost ALWAYS returned! I cannot tell you how many times I have given someone a smile and see the mood of someone change entirely. If someone smiles at you (in a non creepy way) be sure to kindly return it. It was always super awkward when someone doesn’t really smile back, so you’re left with this sheepish grin on your face. Smile more, and you’ll see how much your day will brighten up!
3.) We Are Influenced By Our Environment
Before I started bartending, I had kept up with my book reading and writing. I headed to the gym on the regular basis and visited my family more. For me, these good habits went out the window after hanging out at the bar for so many hours. Now, I’m not saying that bartending will cause you to lose your good habits. But what I am saying is that I was influenced by being around alcohol every evening with people who were all about having fun and kicking it. It is hard not joining in on their energy!
I like to think I have a lot of self control, but my body doesn’t take late nights drinking like it used to. ( my steady diet of beer and beefy five layer burritos has come to a sad end) So, keep that in mind if you ever decide to go into the industry. Discipline is key!
The bottom line:
Every industry has its learning points. I am grateful for all the experience I have gained behind the bar, good and bad. Life, in my opinion, is about finding who you are and I definitely feel that bartending has gotten me a few steps closer to that goal.
What have you learned in your industry? Share your story in the comments below!