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In the Weeds: Sucks and the City

September 1, 2009

I’m back after taking a week off, which was unexpectedly bestowed upon me by my ever-lovin editor, Shannon.  I’m a natural born procrastinator and usually write “In The Weeds” on Mondays before it runs on Tuesdays.  I have always made deadline and would have made it last week, too, but I was just sitting down to write on Monday evening after drinking half my weight in wine when Shannon called and could probably detect that I shouldn’t operate heavy machinery or even a two-pound laptop.  She gave me a pass, and I continued my weekend.  In case you are concerned that I’ve gone all Ernest Hemingway and now drink heavily in the middle of the day on a Monday, Sunday night is Friday night for me and my chef hubby, so our Saturday is Monday, and our Sunday is Tuesday.   Got it?  Restaurant workers everywhere are nodding in agreement.

There were some happenings during the last two weeks, both fantastic and crappy.  Let’s start with the steaming pile of poo that I can’t seem shake off my shoulder, and then we can end on a high note.

As you may know, I’ve been bartending for a few weeks now.  It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me, and I was in over my head the first couple weekends.  Learning where things are kept, knowing the specialty drink recipes, keeping up with washing the glassware and the critical exercise of actually ringing in the drinks had me spinning and sweating.  But I persevered and used my well-worn “hospitality” personality to distract the customers from noticing my actual terror of not being great at something.  I work the day shift Saturdays and Sundays on my own so this past weekend literally marked my 8th and 9th day of working while not accompanied by an experienced team member.

It was early in the morning of day 8 that I was sat down by my manager and basically told that I suck.  It wasn’t in those words exactly, but I got the message.  I said I didn’t disagree with him.  Compared to the two veterans who trained me and have worked behind that bar for eight years and can somehow make a drink for the service well from the other end of the bar without even looking at the ticket while simultaneously doing dishes, ringing in food and high fiving someone with their eighth arm, yeah, I’m kinda slow.   But he drove it home.  “One of our regulars pulled me aside and said you are the slowest bartender in the entire city.”  Ouch.   The entire city?  Really?  I have a pretty good idea of who said this, and he sits at the bar for hours every day so I can’t imagine he has time to visit many other bars with stopwatch in hand.

I’ve changed careers and jobs within careers and started over so many times, and I have never been told I’m not good.  I’m usually promoted and sent along my way.  This has inflated my head enough to assume I can do anything if given a chance.  Someone has collapsed and needs CPR?  No problem.  Pilot passed out and you need someone to land the plane?  Step aside.  I even debated not sharing this story because that’s how important it is to me for you to think I’m good.

The worst of it is that I know my co-workers and the regulars at the bar don’t know me, so they equate sucky bartender with stupid person….just like I always have when working with or being served by someone who sucks.  Ah bitter karma.

So I’m currently waffling between two thoughts.  The first is full of defensive excuses.  1) Dude.  Yes, it seems like I should be better at this by now but you had me in training for the entire summer as a server, followed by a few weeks of bartender training.  We had a fire and were closed for a week. I only work 2 days a week. Give me a freaking chance before you punch my ego so hard.  Or. 2) I’m a shit bartender.  I should quit and do what I know and love, which is serve and write.

That leads me to the good news.  I was interviewed last week by a freelance writer who is doing a story for Reader’s Digest on secrets that your server won’t tell you.  We had a great chat, and I told her about this blog.  She loved it and later told me that Reader’s Digest wants to reprint one of my columns from a few months ago in the magazine with my byline.  I’ve never seen a Reader’s Digest anywhere other than my grandma’s bathroom, but it’s a national publication nonetheless, and I’m totally stoked!

I’ll leave you with one of the secrets I told her.  After nine p.m., it’s all decaf coffee.  We don’t brew anything else because we have two coffee urns to clean and mind as well knock one out early.  As I’ve said before, I’ll never serve someone caffeine who wants decaf – they may have sleeping issues, they may be allergic and die.  But you want caffeine at 10 p.m. so you can keep your night going?  I really don’t give a shit.


8 Responses to “ In the Weeds: Sucks and the City ”

  1. pancake on September 1, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Nothing short of awesome.

  2. Sara on September 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

    It is my impression that we could be siblings. Therefore, my advice to you, as far as speedy bartending goes, is to do what I do when I need to get speedier playing ping~pong; incorporate alcohol. I mean, it’s all right there…have at it and you should pick up a rhythm.
    Kudos on the Readers Digest, also. I’ve always enjoyed the 1978 copy my parents keep in their washroom.

  3. anncine on September 1, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Never fear…I see horsefucking the art of bartending in your near future.

  4. chef on September 1, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Not a good bartender? What more do they want…..your blond, hot, friendly, and can make good drinks??

  5. aroundthewaygirl on September 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Bartending skills improve through time and practice. You’ll get there.

    Sunday football=beer!!! Piece of cake!

    I can’t say the same with people’s hotness and personalities. Clearly you have been blessed with both.

  6. Sloane on September 4, 2009 at 9:52 am

    You are not alone. I hear the Wednesday night bartender at the Frog is slow as Christmas!! Cheers!!

  7. Linh on September 5, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I gave my sister the title of “Slowest Bartender in the City,” so you my dear, can’t have that title. When she started bartending, I would watch and say, what the hell is she doing? Am I ever going to get that water I asked for, much less my drink??? :) Congrats on the Reader’s Digest debut! I love that magazine. You’re moving on up and going places, I can feel it!

  8. Kim on November 11, 2009 at 3:16 am

    I found this from Reader’s Digest–My dad gave it to me because I’m a server. I loved the RD story, and I think this blog is very poignant. Makes me laugh and I’m telling all my server friend’s about it–keep it up!