Last night was one of the good nights at work where an interesting customer comes in and is actually fun to talk to. Most of the time, as a member of bar staff you spend your time pretending to be interested in things that your customers have to say, or biting your tongue to stop yourself from telling them why everything that they have just said directly opposes all of your views. The conversation got slightly marred by a comment by the person I was talking to, that I think was supposed to be a compliment, but was actually quite insulting…”Gosh, you are quite clever aren’t you!”
This has happened to me lots of times working on a bar. I wonder why people assume that everyone who works in the service industry is a bit of a simpleton? Most of the people I have worked with on bars over the years are studying for degrees, or have degrees. (Not that you need to have a degree to signify that you are not severely lacking in brain cells ) Most people who work part time jobs are doing it to supplement the full time part of their lives. At the moment my full time and most important focus is being a mum. I have a toddler and in a few short months another tiny person will horrifically emerge from my body. I love having a job where I can spend lots of time in the day having fun with my mini person, and in the evening go out and earn money whilst he is in bed. I get all of the best bits of life this way.
So imagine how it feels to find a great place to work, where you get along well with everyone and that fits in with the rest of your life wonderfully, to then realise that the people who you are pouring drinks for and carrying food to naturally assume that you are not in a great place, or that you are an underachiever of sorts.
Now imagine that someone is talking down to you whilst you are at work because they deem your job somehow lesser. Or worse, that you are just plain stupid.
Nobody is going to print out a copy of their C.V. and wear it as a t-shirt while they work to prevent people from treating them like an idiot. I am proud of my life and my achievements. I chose to work in the pub industry because I like it. It is fun and fast paced, it gives me access into grown up world whilst I earn money and I can just be me for a few hours, instead of a mum. You don’t realise how important that is until you have spent a day watching Peppa pig with a poorly child, you want to go somewhere that you can say swear words and be as near to wine as possible. If that place is also your job then it is a double win.
I also think that unless you have spent time on the serious side of a bar, then you really shouldn’t judge the people that are there. It is hard, sweaty work. You need quite a bit of knowledge to be good at doing it as well. I can tell you what all of the spirits taste like, what they will mix best with, how to change barrels of ale and how to tell if the ale is good (and much much more than I won’t bore you with). All whilst laughing at the joke that you are telling me (which is not funny, or it was funny the first time, now it’s getting old, learn a new joke, or I have heard it eight times that shift already) and keeping an eye on what order people have arrived in so as not to upset the queue.
I will remember your round of drinks so that your future trips to the bar are easy. I will remember your tab number so that you feel special when you get back to the bar. And I am not just doing that for one group of people, more like twenty groups.
So the next time that you are out in a bar or restaurant please bear this in mind when talking to the person that is serving you. Please try to treat us with the same amount of respect and kindness that you would want to be treated with. Please don’t assume that we are all imbeciles.
Also, the nicer you are, the better the service you will get. That guy who lectures you on how to pour his pint, even though he has never set foot on the other side of a bar, is not our favourite. We have several regular customers that come into our bar that at the beginning of a shift we all try and pass off the responsibility for that evening for.
We all need a way of going out and earning money so that we can pay our bills. None of us want to be treated poorly whist we do it. Most people can tell when they are being spoken down to. So instead of thinking that everyone is not as clever as you, why not change your way of thinking, assume that everyone is really clever and adjust if people are not quite following you. That way nobody gets offended.
Obviously don’t be a dick about it. But also don’t act super surprised when someone bringing you a drink happens to have more than one string to her bow.
Right rant over, I have enough time for a cup of tea and then back to the bar…