Last summer I was employed at Buffalo Alice, a bar in downtown Sioux City, Iowa. I got a lot of flak from people for working at a bar, but there are a lot of things that you can learn working as a bartender and it isn’t always the “trashy” environment that people say think that it is and it is a lot of hard work. There were days that I worked from 4:00 in the afternoon until 2:00 in the morning and then still had to clean and close the bar. Did anyone know that bartenders make about $4.00 and hour so the tips you leave your bartender and waitress are extremely important to their paycheck, especially if they only get to work a few nights a week. I started the summer only working Friday nights, but then my boss asked me to pick up Thursday and Saturday as well. I was always physically exhausted, especially because I worked days at a golf course as well.
Last weekend over our Fall Break I decided to go back to the bar to work for a few nights and make some extra cash and it only proved to me that you never stop learning as a bartender and some of my lessons can help me in my future career as a teacher. As I worked this weekend I thought about the things that I am learning.
Being so close to Halloween, I wanted to share one super cool thing that I learned at the bar from a customer this weekend! This shot in the picture is called a Zombie Brain! A great thing about having a job like this is that you are always learning things from people. I cannot count the number of times that people have given me a tip or two here and there to be a better server or tips to make drinks look more presentable or how to hold a glass and to always give people toothpicks after I give them their check, and you can bet that all these little things make the tips better! I feel like this helps me realize that there is always something to be learned from people, especially my future students. Maybe they will see something in a piece of literature that I did not. Someone’s opinion on literature can make you realize things that you never would have thought of without their input. My job as a bartender has taught me how to listen to people and the awesome affect it can have on you.
Time management is another awesome thing that I learned as a bartender and a waitress. You somehow have to be able to balance the fifteen people at the bar and all of your tables at the same time to keep everyone happy. Someday in a classroom I will have to be able to make time to answer questions from my students and learn how to balance them in the time given to me. When you have twenty or more people that all need your attention at one time, you learn very quickly how to make that work to keep them all satisfied, well, to a degree anyway.
Learning to control my attitude is another great big thing that I learned being a bartender and a waitress. Sometimes people are going to say and do things that really grind your gears, but sometimes you have to be the bigger person and stop yourself from screaming at them until you feel like they sufficiently understand how dumb you think they are. Working with people everyday, you learn that there are some people who are impossible to please and instead of getting angry with them you have to make accommodations. Other times there are people who down right disrespect you and you have to learn to tell them that their behavior is not okay in a way that will not cause more unacceptable behavior from them. As a teacher you will have students and parents that don’t like the way you do things and that just don’t respect you all the time, but being in a professional environment you have to learn to make accommodations and get your point across in a way that looks calm, collected, and professional.
I know it seems like a stretch to compare teaching and bar tending, like apples and oranges really, but I have found that it can be an awesome learning experience if you really pay attention to the little things that you learn every day and how they can be super influential to your future career!