Working in a pub is a job that most people have a stab at some point in their life, whether it’s for some extra cash, bit of experience, or generally because they love it. Personally, it’s all three for me.
I’m Jack, and I’m a bartender in a craft beer and ale pub. I work with all sorts of beer, spirits, cocktails and people. The people I see on shift can change from day to day, whether there’s a bearded group of beer connoisseurs or a hen party, every shift is very rarely the same as the one before.
Spoiler alert: tt’s not a particularly hard job working behind a bar. I mean sure, it can be busy as hell but hey, that’s what I love about it. Preparing drinks and shaking cocktails isn’t difficult at all, it’s child’s play once you’ve got the hang of it.
It’s the complicated customers that can make your life difficult.
Customers, like all human beings, can really range in terms of how difficult they decide to be. Sometimes it’s hilarious (such as the time I was asked “I ordered one of the beers on cask but it isn’t very fizzy?”) and sometimes I’ve been confronted by those who really can’t see where I’m coming from.
Anyone who works in a customer related job knows it’s important to maintain your chosen establishment’s reputation, but some people just aren’t worth having as a returning punter. With this in mind, I often find no matter how diplomatic one can be, nothing trumps telling a trouble maker to do one.
I’ve had to break up fights (that started over who had claimed a stool), told a group ladies to please stop singing (bloody awful flamenco), and carefully explained to a very thick individual that “no, we cannot accept decommissioned money” (no matter how legitimate it once was in the past).
When it’s not too busy, the best part can be recommending a beer to someone. I’m personally more of a dark beer drinker, but love a good gose or a sour beer, so when someone asks “what do you recommend?” it is almost always met with “what do you like?” as I’ve sometimes found that the most someone has experimented with beer was trying a Kronenbourg.
But on the other hand, what I personally hate the most about my job is dealing with people who are complete tits regardless of sobriety or intoxication. As a real ale and craft beer fan nothing drives me more insane than someone’s dedication to a crappy mainstream lager, and deciding that we’re “a shite pub” because we haven’t got any of their chosen brand (cough, Carling, cough).
Whoever said that speaking calmly and rationally to a person will solve your problems has clearly never worked in the hospitality industry. To a lot of customers we, the bar staff, not even regarded as people, but rather the middle man between them and their drink.
So it’s often slightly amusing to tell someone that no, they can’t have 6 shots to themselves. This is usually always met with indignation, some serious self-righteousness and inevitably anger, because this is one of the few times that the middle man has actually piped up and refused to serve them that last drink that they definitely won’t finish.
Let me set the scene for you, from my perspective: It’s a Friday night, near the end of the month, so you’re expecting a busy night that will undoubtedly attract those who live for the sesh. I’m behind a poorly lit bar that sets the atmosphere for the night, with some live indie and rock music that everyone is nodding, dancing and drunkenly singing along to.
Drinks are constantly being poured, as is the sweat on my forehead, and I glance at the clock to find I’ve got 4 more hours of this sweaty drunken haven for the nine-to-fivers.
A man approaches your bar, eyes not quite focusing on anything, singing a song that isn’t playing, and begins to slur out his demand for another JagerBomb. I refuse to serve the man, under the reasoning he looks too drunk to be served.
“That’s not very scientific, have you got a breathalyser to *belch* prove it?”
A breathalyser? Absolutely good sir, would you also like me to ask you to recite the alphabet backwards? Maybe walk in a straight line? I don’t need to glance twice to know you’re too drunk to handle another beer, never mind wrap yourself around a lamp post with your car.
To summarise, the bar is a diverse, fun and sometimes perilous place. It can be heaven to some, and hell to others, but if anything, it’s more than just a place that serves alcohol. You could say it’s a bit like a community living room.