Me, The 12 Year Old Manager – R.W.

I don’t want to talk about my promotion
Or how well the new team are settling in
I want to talk about the woman
Who screamed at me across the bar
Like the toddler she described me as
When I told her no
No more alcohol for you
Do you know how old I am
As though reaching 70 makes you immune
From the possibility of being drunk
The woman who swore
And stomped her feet
Exclaiming I knew nothing about drunk people
Not my getting on for 10 years in the industry
Not ever seen a drunk person me
The woman who got her husband
To threaten us with violence
Try to fight the bouncers
From another bar
That I had to borrow to extract them
Remove them from a place
Where they were doing my team
And my business harm
The woman who left me no choice
But to call the police to remove her
Because like the toddler she described me as
She couldn’t take no

The First Day – R.W.

Today was the first day
A day that never gets easier
Filled with the unknown
Taking a step forwards
And leaving the past behind

This first day
I’ve done 3 times this past year
Each time paired with a closing
A finish
Packing up my work
Preparing it to lay dormant
For some months again
Until I can return to it
On that first day
The first of many
A hopeful future broods

Staffing Crisis – R.W.

Scrolling but not reading
As job ads sail past
Ships unsuited to your crew
A while now we’ve been stuck at sea
Unmoored in a vast ocean of change
After campaigns to retrain
To a more sustainable career
Theres still a need for the old ways
Sails to be hoisted
And decks to be scrubbed
Maybe not the career of a pandemic
But a key worker none the less
An employment crisis
Where the assumption is
There’s plenty more fish in the sea
Yet the harsh reality
Is we’ve over fished
To near extinction
With prices too dear to obtain
The few that chose to remain 

Man Up

In all the years and various stints I’ve done in the bar I keep returning to. As much as the teams changed and dynamics have backflipped.¬† One thing has remained constant. The idea that I should be a man.

Not me personally but someone doing my job with the experience I have typically is male. This comes in subtle forms such as the memes of bartenders plastered on the staff room wall all being blokes. And less subtle by the colleagues I have worked along side for years still attributing my specific product knowledge to my boyfriend who they have never worked with.

Mens work is a phrase that gets thrown around more than I’m comfortable with. Everything from getting ice to the less pleasant cleaning jobs. All things I’ve always done as a routine part of my job. I learnt long ago if I wanted to be taken seriously, mens work was a phrase I could not only not use but not be seen to let others use as a reason to do or not to do something.

Maybe I’m just bitter, or maybe I’m tired of being branded as less. Tired of jokes being made when I set up the shift with a girl only bar about it being a weaker team when in comparison to the men scheduled at the same time, the difference favours the women.

Do you feel like you should be doing more than just bartending?

Do you feel like you should be doing more than just bartending? A friend asked me this as research for an article she was writing. Its an interesting question. One that, as I told her, I could speak for days on given the chance. The short answer is no, there’s no where else I’d rather be. But its not as simple as that, there’s also so much more I want to do with it.

While I was at uni, before I was working in a bar full time, I didn’t understand why real adults would choose this as a career not just a gap year or paying your way while you pursue something else. Obviously I  don’t think that way now but it’s definitely a mind set I used to have. When I started in the industry it felt like a quick fix, something you do for a bit just to earn some money but not sustainable as a long term plan. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now I’ve been working in this industry for over 7 years and it is my long term plan.

I do go through cycles of feeling like I should be doing more especially anytime I’ve taken a step back from management. Although there’s always a reason why I’ve made the decision to step backwards, like when I went from a bar manager position in a gastro pub at age 20 to a supervisor at a high end hotel restaurant. The point of that was serving at a higher level than in the gastro pub and learning to do it properly rather than sort of learning things as I had to. For example I learnt to line clean because the only manager who knew how went on maternity leave and I learnt to run a training session when there was a new cocktail menu coming out and no one else had enough of an interest in bar to train it so I left doing that for structure and training on how to be a manager. In the end I didn’t receive the development I was seeking, instead I was working long hours and burning myself out.

This time around I’ve chosen to stick with an unintentional return to bartending rather than managing because I spent last year working on restoring my mental health and now this year I’m working at finishing my degree. So although I often feel like I’ve taken a step backwards and I should be doing more I can also rationalise it with there’s an alterior motive and I’m doing it with a purpose in mind.

Besides I bloody love just turning up to a shift throwing some drinks around then going home again.