Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Tricky Business of Being Nice

Ah, the tricky business of being a nice bartender. This a big grey area for most female bartenders. Maybe not so much for the bartenders themselves, but more so for the customers. When working in a service industry, you want to be as nice and efficient as you can. The nicer and faster you are, the more likely you are to make more money. As a bartender, your work is a stage. You "perform" for a crowd as everyone at the bar watches on. That is why it is so important to leave the bad days and bad moods at the door, before you start your shift. You always have to have your game face on when working behind a bar.

With that said, I have been hit on many times as I have worked behind the bar over the years by both men and women. It's just the nature of the beast. When you are in the business of serving alcohol, people's inhibitions are lowered. People develop liquid courage over the course of the night and really, what is there not to love about a bartender? I have to say that I am the most social when I am behind the bar. Way more than if I were to go out for a night out on the town. You have to be social in this type of position or you will never make it.

Last night, I had a couple of guys at my bar who were really cool. They were just these two normal guys drinking beers at the end of the bar when I started my shift. Over the course of the night, I approached them and got into conversation with the both of them. The night was a bit on the slow side and I was getting kind of bored doing sweeps over the entire bar without having any drink orders to take. Basically, time was standing still and I was craving a shot. We have this new policy at work where employees can no longer pour their own drinks. But, if a customer buys you a shot, then that's acceptable, as long as we use our best judgment and not get carried away (AKA: remember to do our J-O-B). Without expressing my desire to have a shot to my male customers at the end of the bar, they asked me if they could buy me a shot the next time I came to check on them. I was more than happy to accept. I then explained our staff drinking policy to them and told them how ironic it was that at the moment they offered to buy me a shot, I was actually craving one. Usually, I don't like to drink when I am working behind the bar, for obvious reasons).

The first round, we each took a shot of Fernet with a ginger back, a staple drink of San Francisco bartenders. We quickly switched to tequila by the next round. ;)All in all, these guys were super cool and helped my shift fly by. They were fun, painless and entertaining.

At the end of the night when my guys were closing out, one of them wrote down his phone number and told me to call him. This is the part of the transaction I hate the most. It's flattering, but I have a boyfriend who I am in love with. I know that I will never in a million years call this guy. But I want them both to come back and be patrons of the bar. All I could do was thank him, accept his note and throw it in the tip jar. I guess you can't blame people for trying.

When I worked in a big, busy nightclub a few years back, anytime a guy asked me for my number, I would give him one, the phone number to the club. I saw no harm in that. It was rather amusing actually to see how many times I could give out the club's number over the course of the night. Then I would report back to my fellow bartenders at the end of the night what I had done and laugh about it. Ah, the good old nightcap, bonding bartender stories with coworkers as we all sat around counting our tips.

So, if you are a bar patron out there (male or female) who gives your number to a bartender in hopes of a call back, don't hold your breath. Just remember the bar is a stage and we are just doing our J-O-B. Just enjoy your drink and the company, but don't take it personally when we don't call.

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