Working at a bar has its perks— hello, staff night— but can also come with perils of being a sober person in a crowd of drunk people. People often get excited when I tell them I work at a bar, saying things like “wow you’re so lucky!” or “that must be so much fun!” But the reality is, it’s a lot different then you think.
For starters, we don’t get to drink. Like, ever. Just as you wouldn’t drink at any other job, we aren’t allowed to drink at ours. I’ve had many customers ask to buy me a drink, but part of my job is monitoring the safety of our customers and I can’t do that if I’ve had a few drinks myself. Offer to buy a Red Bull for your favorite bartender instead— it’s greatly appreciated, and helps us get through those hours after the customers are gone and we have to clean up.
We also have to make huge sacrifices— in the form of our Friday nights. Certain days like Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day we aren’t even allowed to book off, as those days we need all hands on deck. We constantly have to miss out on major events, or even just nights out in order to work. Plus, I get major FOMO every time my friend group stops by when I’m working. I would give anything to be on the other side of the bar, but the pay cheque is very necessary.
On the topic of pay, we don’t get paid nearly enough. Seriously though, servers/bartenders minimum wage is a meager $9.90, and when compared to the general minimum wage of $11.40, it’s just plain sad. Not to mention tips vary greatly between servers and bartenders. When I mention I’m a server, people think that I make a ton of tips, when in fact I really don’t. Please. For the love of alcohol, tip your server or bartender. A lot of people don’t understand that servers have to “tip out” a certain percentage of their sales to the bar. So basically, if you don’t tip, it costs your server money to serve you, and that’s just not cool.
Finally, the worst part: the harassment. I don’t understand who taught people it was okay to act this way, but they do and it’s disgusting. No matter if it’s girls or guys, people become extremely disrespectful when they drink towards all of the bar staff. Please do not touch me when I’m working. Actually, don’t touch me at all unless I warrant it.
When it comes down to it, working at a bar is an incredible experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I work with a great group of people in a fun loving environment. We always find a way to have fun at work and then there’s always staff night …