Adventures in Bartending
October 18, 2013 § 28 Comments
Last week I was swamped, work-wise. Writing, writing, writing, reading, reading, reading, writing some more. Whew.
Luckily, there was a reward waiting at the end of the week. I was invited to work at an Oktoberfest beer tent, serving drinks while wearing a borderline-slutty German-ish outfit. I’d never actually done any bartending work before (my specialty was always the other side of the bar), and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun. Also, all the barmaids were allowed to keep our tips. (My shift of barmaids were all part of the same book club. That beer money is then pooled to put toward the cost of a sober driver for the book club Christmas party, where members can drink more beer and talk about books. So really, it all comes back to reading. The circle of life.)
I learned a few things from my experience as a temporary beer wench. Mostly, I discovered that I’m very bad at working behind a bar. Things I did:
- Knocked a full beer into the cash drawer
- Knocked a full beer into my shoes
- Knocked a full beer down my arm and somehow, in defiance of gravity, up my armpit and into my shirt
Some of the other girls were really good at it. They could operate a tap with one hand and make change with the other, while hollering for the next person in line to step up. It took me both hands and all my concentration just to turn the taps on and off. I think maybe I’m better at selling solids than liquids.
I didn’t expect to get so many questions. I figured, hey, people will come up, hand me some money, take a beer, keep going. No. They wanted to know what KIND of beer it was. (Me: “It’s this kind.” – pointing to tap label) Was it dark or light? (Me: “Um, medium?”) What does it taste like? (Me: “Here, I’ll drink some and you watch my face and see if I look happy.”)
My friend Emmely and I were particularly poorly suited to answering questions. We seemed to have it in our heads that we’d make great tips by offering witty banter. This is actually not true. No one tips for banter. They should. But they don’t. So when they asked if the beer was “hoppy” or “not hoppy” and we said, “More hoppy than a bunny rabbit but not as hoppy as Kris Kross,” they did not hand us wads of extra cash. Alas. Lesson learned.
Then there were the drunk d-bags who kept trying to impress us with their worldliness and knowledge. One guy walked up to my line and said something like, “Guten tag, borchtiwheoriadlhthzershel,” and I was like, “Sorry, dude, I didn’t catch the last part of that.” And he said, “Oh, well, I spent my junior year abroad in Germany, you see, and I was just complimenting you on your authentic attire.” Right. My authentic attire. You mean my fake dirndl I made out of an Old Navy pajama shirt and a kid’s apron? Why, thank you. Perhaps you’d like to go drink your hoppy German beer over there. Waaaaay over there.
But it was great fun.
So, the moral of the story is: Work hard, play hard. Maybe women really can have it all, if by “have it all” we mean spending a whole week at a desk and then a weekend wearing a tarty costume and slinging beer all over the place. I’m not totally sure, but I think that’s what Lean In was about.
And also: I’m definitely more comfortable wrangling fast-flowing words than fast-flowing beer.