Today I want to write another post about working at a bar. This is going to be a list of the things I learned, that I totally didn’t expect to, while working at a bar. Please note that this list will most accurately reflect on college/party bars, as that is the extent of my experience of working in the bar industry. So without any further delays let’s start with:
Everyone knows that the service industry’s number 1 challenge is going to be “dealing with people”. As broad and encompassing as that phrase is, I never expected to have to deal with customers in ways that absolutely defy logic. For example, on my first weekend (I think it may have even been my very first night even) I had to reject a few underage kids who tried to get in through my door. Now, this wasn’t anything unexpected at all. I mean, seriously, who hasn’t used a fake ID their Freshman year of college, or at least known someone who has? But what was unexpected was the incessant arguing from these kids after they were caught red-handed.
Instead of taking off running for fear of having the cops called on them, which is what I was taught to do should I ever choose to use a fake, these kids decided that it would actually make more sense for them to pull out their real IDs and then try to get in anyway!
I didn’t know if I was supposed to laugh or pity their stupidity. Now mind you, this was early in the night and my little would-be bar patrons were clearly not drunk yet at all. And yet they seemed to have lost just as much rational thinking capability as if they were hammered!
So after politely informing them that I had no choice but to deny them entrance, but would not confiscate their ILLEGAL IDs nor turn them over to the authorities, these kids continued to argue by rambling on about the law and how, legally speaking, my bar was obligated to serve them still otherwise that would be considered discrimination.
What!? At this point I was thinking to myself
“OK kid, you got caught with a fake ID, alright? Face it, you’re not getting in, and if you keep on fighting this you’re only going to get yourself in more trouble. All it takes is for a patrolling bike cop to wander on by and catch a brief glimpse of this retardation going on here, and you’d be off to spend a night in the drunk tank…while you’re sober!”
And as if Fate was watching herself, one of the undercover cops who frequents my bar came up right behind me and proceeded to arrest all four of them on the spot! It was all I could do, not to roll over laughing. Lesson learned…I hope. Also, just FYI a bar is definitely NOT obligated to serve, or grant entrance, to ANYONE.
On the contrary, they actually don’t happen that much at all. I mean come on, what’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions a crowded, loud, party bar in college. Well besides the excess of body fluids on the floor and some drunken debauchery, it’s fights! Everyone thinks that being a “Bouncer” means that you can expect to have to show up to work ready for a few hours of a constant boxing match with a horde of Frat bros and townies.
In reality, I had only one real fight break out during my tenure at my bar, and this was actually pretty typical of all the bars in the bar district of my college.
You may be wondering how this is so, and the best answer I’ve thought of is simply Common Sense! Think about it for a second, if a bar constantly had fights breaking out, left and right, at the drop of a hat then wouldn’t that bar likely be shutdown?
See, here’s the way it works with the cops. If you cause a lot of trouble, or your bar is always having issues of some kind (and fights counts as issues) then the cops start getting annoyed with you. And when they get annoyed, they’ll use their uber-charged powers of being a buzzkill to either shutdown you’re bar, suspend your license, or simply employ the cheapass’s tactic of using passive-aggressive attacks to eventually get you to lose all your business.
For example, let’s say that they can’t shut you down, revoke your liquor license, or employ other legal means of getting rid of you. Well, that still doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, because what they can do is simply camp right outside of your bar and aggressively arrest those dangerous drunken college kids hoping to get some late-night pizza/mexican food.
This will eventually garner your bar a negative reputation and lead to people simply not going to your bar. Alternatively, the police can also make frequent visits into your bar while in uniform, and thus scare all the underage kids away.
This tactic works similarly to dog training in the sense that you can train your dog to crap all over a cop’s shoes every time they see a blue uniform (note this is not a recommended method of dog training). Likewise, if the cops make a show of force enough times to your bar, it’ll be like they’re training your patrons to start not going there. See how it works now in regards to common sense?
3) You Will Probably Lose Some of Your Friends
From the outside looking in, it looks like all the bar employees can totally just drink for free there, and that they can also give anyone free drinks or simply vouch for their friends and get rid of that whole pesky idea of showing ID or paying cover even. Too bad that doesn’t really happen, because most bar owners treat their businesses just like that, a business.
That place that you like to go party at is their livelihood and career all wrapped up into one little package. Most bar owners lives’ practically revolve around their bars, and you can be sure that they won’t just simply take a loss in revenue because so and so wanted to be nice to their friends. If they had that habit, they probably would’ve gone out of business long before you and your friends first got accepted into college even.
And here’s where the tension comes, because when everybody and their brother who sort of, kind of knows you, wants you to hook ’em up or let them in without an ID, you have to say “NO”!
Which then leads to the next part, which is where you get a whole lot of people not talking to you all of a sudden, on account of you “…taking your damn job too seriously”. If it makes you feel better, treat it like it’s a case of micro-evolution going on in your pool of friends. You introduced a new variable and the ones that survived have become stronger, faster, and smarter. Sort of.
4) Clean-up Duty is Actually the Easiest Part of the Job
I know that a while back, I told a funny story about cleaning the bathrooms at a bar. Well, what I forgot to mention is that even though the bathrooms are sometimes bio-hazardous environments, clean-up duty is still likely to be the easiest part of your job while working at a bar.
That’s because it’s one of the few responsibilities where you get some peace and quiet. Usually you’ll be sent off to whatever corner of the bar you’re assigned to by yourself or with maybe one or two other co-workers; where you’ll then get to quietly enjoy a simple, static task that’s predictable. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the floors, mops, tables, etc. will ever mouth back to you over something stupid (see #1 above), and that’s a HUGE relief.
Plus, after a long night of loud, hectic music and having to constantly move around there’s just something oddly soothing and relaxing about being able to drone out with a pair of headphones on while mopping the floors.
This one is rather difficult to explain, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
Sometimes things happen at work in which you may have no choice but to request police assistance. This most commonly happens when trying to remove a group of drunkards who are just refusing to leave. Now, as I mentioned earlier fights don’t really break out often, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be plenty of instances where you might have to get a little physical with somebody.
In fact, a lot of times we found ourselves having to either call the cops or issue the threat of calling them just to get a guy to leave. Obviously, when this happens we always show our gratitude by offering them a drink on the house next time they come in off-duty.
On the other side of spectrum you have the under-covers. These are the guys who’s jobs it was to catch those dangerous underage drinking criminals by blending in with the rest of the crowd and posing as just another guy at the bar. They are not above using tactics such as going up to an underage girl and offering to buy her a drink, then arresting her in front of the entire bar the second she takes a sip; this happened even if the girl initially refused a drink but the under-cover kept on pushing it (in a really creepy way too), which is arguably a case of entrapment almost.
Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, the under-covers would sometimes attempt to bust US, the bar and its employees, as much as they did the Freshmen.
That sleezy tactic I just told you about, well it gets worse. Because when they do it us it usually takes a tag team of two or more under-covers targeting either one bar or sometimes even one bartender specifically. I can say, with complete confidence, that I distinctly remember them sending in an underage under-cover with a fake ID. That was actually a REAL ID issued from the D.P.S. itself, just with falsified information, and order a drink only to have his partner, who ‘witnessed’ the whole thing, ticket the bartender who had now broken the law and aided and abetted a criminal…RIDICULOUS!
6) You WILL Get Lower Back Problems
Yes, that’s right. It happens. You may think that the bar industry isn’t the most labor-intensive of occupations, and while I actually agree with you on that sentiment, you’d be wrong to think it doesn’t put strain and stress on your body in ways that it wasn’t meant to handle for a prolonged period of time.
The reason why this happens is because of glassware more than anything else. When glasses get dirty at a bar, there’s a simple and convenient way to wash them. It involves this process right here:
but the issue that comes up with doing that over and over again is that you are constantly bending over in an awkward and rather uncomfortable position. Do this for long enough, like over the course of 8+ hours and you’re lower back will definitely start to ache. Do more than a few shifts like that, and you’ll seriously wish that management would just switch over to plastic already.
It’s not just washing glasses either, anytime you’re on the other side of the bar everything is designed to be just in reach of you. If you lean over. Need ice? Bend over. Customer asked for a well drink? Bend over again. What about just a simple Coors Light? Too bad it’s in the ice well, so you know the drill by now.
Bottom line is guys, be prepared to tackle on a set of challenges that you might have anticipated prior to taking the job.
Anyway, as always, I have you guys have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
And please remember that if you liked what you saw, then please comment, like, subscribe, follow, up-vote, and share with all your friends and family.
Until next time!
Disclaimer: The content within this article has been recounted to the best of my memory. I make no claim to 100% factual accuracy. Any and all discrepancies are the result of unintentional mistakes.
End-note: I realize that some bar industry veterans may have quite a different experience then mine. I present this article only from the standpoint of my own personal experiences. If yours differ or if you have relevant insight I encourage you to share them in the comments below.