I didn't choose to be a bartender
. I got the idea from my father, who tended bar on purpose after several professional careers. A thousand late cocktail meetings and a thousand more three martini lunch
es and he developed a natural envy for the simple man behind the bar. He was the child of missionaries, schooled in the seminary and the bar was the bully pulpit
that was his birthright
I, on the other hand, greatly overestimated the demand for eager young political scientists. My life behind bars was destined through the necessity to pay off loans on a college degree of dubious value. I rationalized my situation by viewing the bar as the ideal locale for a modern Socratic discussion of the world of ideas; in vino veritas, and all that.
Most of the time, however, I serve as a pharmacist or a drug dealer with an inadequate stock. The liquor always acts as a social lubricant for awhile but by its very nature invites excess. This excess makes my only medication a sedative, and the enemy of useful discussion. There is truth in wine but there is also a chaotic, self-destructive buzz.
I have to make a living, so I fill their glasses, empty my tip jar and pay the light bill. The downside to my profession is obvious and inevitable. The product I sell gradually diminishes the consumer. Good customers diminish more quickly. The positive side of my trade is that my product is highly addictive, rendering my niche recession proof.
Mine isn't the kind of bar where the bartender leans on his elbow and listens to your problems. I tell people what's bothering me. This model has several benefits over the traditional bartender/patron paradigm. The customer in hearing my problems is distracted from his own sad life but more importantly the concept of the 'pity tip' is introduced. My bartending method has the collateral benefit of better engaging my interest in the conversation.
I read a fortune cookie once that said it is better to talk about ideas, than people or things. I have adopted this truism for my interactions across the bar. I don't often burden the customer with the details of my problems, but rather with the greater concerns, which they'd certainly share. Things like entropy and gravity, life and death. My methods meet with mixed reactions from the masses. The poor sap who spent the day wrestling with carnivores in business suits is searching for sedation and small talk.
I will always furnish the sedative but they don't pay me enough for small talk.