Our most hated question.
The general population is under the impression that bartenders work to supplement some other source of income. And for some bartenders… that’s true. College kids want spending money or traveling money, school teachers want a second job during the summer, even suits that work in an office from 9:00 to 5:00 can’t resist working a wedding or bar mitzvah at a banquet hall on the weekends in order to afford that family trip to Aspen. Some bartenders do choose to moonlight as a restaurant employee in order to pay for hobbies and/or vacations and/or other luxuries life has to offer.
Then there are the rest of us. The ones that show up despite the weather, despite what may be going on in our personal lives, despite what day of the week or what time of day it is. We are the ones that are responsible for college kids on vacation to make sure they don’t get behind the wheel of a car, the ones that can’t help our kids with homework because we are working nights to pay their tuition, and the ones that smile and ensure perfect service during a business lunch because a bad lunch could be the difference between a long lasting relationship and a deal that falls through.
“What’s your real job?” I’ve been asked it more than once. I bristle EVERY time. I do not believe that the people asking it mean to be insulting, but that is exactly how it comes across. Those people are assuming that what we do for a living does not fulfill society’s expectations of what a “real job” should be. Well, I would like to take this opportunity to answer their question in as many non-restaurant related words as possible
I am a foreman. I maintain a staff while overseeing their behavior and compliance with company standards. I monitor their output and verify customer satisfaction. I train people under my supervision, ensure appropriate use of equipment, maintain an employee schedule, and communicate progress or set-backs to my supervisor.
I am a maintenance worker. I’m involved in fixing any sort of mechanical, electrical, or plumbing device should it be out of order or broken. I also perform scheduled maintenance on all appliances to ensure they remain in working order. Should a problem arise that I cannot fix, it is my responsibility to commission someone to fix it.
I am a conversationalist. I won’t always know the right thing to say but I will sit through and listen to any problem you may want to talk about. Areas of frequent conversation may include but are not limited to: sports, marriage, divorce, children, fidelity, infidelity, dating, inability to date, unreasonable superiors, promotions, demotions, work-related stress, and current events. Areas of conversation that are avoided: religion and politics. You may not always feel better after a conversation, but you definitely will not feel worse.
I am a maid. I pick up after you leave and make sure your space is presentable for when you return. I clean up your plates, I wash your dirty glasses, and wipe down and polish any surfaces that require my attention. I’ll even clean up the bloody napkin you left behind after you stopped your nose bleed.
Lastly and most importantly, I am a host. I am here to ensure an exemplary guest experience. I do my best to resolve any issues you may have so please do not hesitate to come to me with problems or concerns. I ensure you receive everything you may need during your stay no matter how strange you may think your demands may be. From the moment you enter the establishment it is my job to provide the hospitality you deserve.
So as you see, my job does not end once your cabernet has been poured. I hope I have been clear.