Now that I've managed to procure employment with a firm of such prestige as to include a nondisclosure agreement, I find myself hearkening back to the bartending days of bliss. (Seriously, I could get fired for telling you if you were hot or cold, if you asked the what-do-I-do question.)
For some reason, a number of friends and I decided it would be best to take bartending courses for no greater reason than to have such a distinction under our belts; truthfully it was a very rewarding experience, the course itself--I learned a lot, and indeed I have taken the skills learned further than I ever did with any sort of university education. Among the first lessons learned was to quickly drum up the following phrase for prospective clients: "Yeah, sorry ma'am, the blender's broken. I'm really sorry about that. Yeah, I like margaritas too." An important pair of truisms: "yeah" is an important word to put customers at ease, and the blender is always broken.
I was neither a bartender whose self-esteem required bolstering by appearing grandiose in the eyes and minds of the opposite sex, nor was I the grizzled old veteran variety, willing to launch into homespun stories about how either school or the war had landed your kind host in this job. I would not prop myself on an elbow, graciously refilling your drink, and say things like, "Next one's on me, brother. I feel your pain." Jon says in his book that it should come as no great surprise to anyone that people bleed on the barkeep, and while this is true, he neglects to mention that it is the barkeep's purview to neither add to the tale-telling, nor to pay attention to it at all. The world cabal of bartenders seems to have unanimously decided to foster an ability: allowing your long-winded diatribes to pass over us and through us, affecting nothing.
The purpose of this (log) is largely to inform you, my trusted, eloquent reader, that the world of big business is by and large a false affair, filled to the brim with nothing of the realism of the bar life. Behind a bar I am king, an unchosen dictator in control of all events large and small. In a proper business I am no king, not even a low rung on a long ladder. There seems to be this preoccupation amongst the two hundred or so staff over here to prove yourself. Standing from slightly outside the worldview of the multitude of mindless drones, it seems that proving yourself is tantamount to becoming what most sane people would refer to as a corporate toady. Luckily, in my case my own job is a rewarding one, and is a task I both enjoy and actively wish to better myself at, but again and again I think to myself: I would never have to prove myself amongst the bar-staff. In a bar setting, my largest concern would be things like, what does a "dirty" martini mean? And if they mean a martini, do they mean a vodka martini, a thing only grovelling, petty, Godless heathens would drink? Or do they mean a martini with proper gin instead? And if so, do I give them the cheap shit, or the good shit?
An additional problem is that I find myself having to control my singing in public places, and my somewhat tourette's-like outbursts of profanity. In a bar, they'd assume I had enjoyed some of the wares I peddle, or that I simply wished to kill a waitress who'd given me attitude about trivial shit.
A few years ago I worked a small bar in the North End of Edmonton which was mostly irrelevant, filled with old men who drank the cheap shit. Still, they were regulars and had lifelong stories to tell, so it wasn't a total loss. (The bartender reserves the right to pay strict attention to every detail of your story, as well.) This bar was relevant only because it had this oak bar, friends, that must've taken three or four whole trees to build. About thirty feet long, it seemed to stretch into the horizon. Picture it in your mind, if you like: when the light from the sun streamed through the windows, the almost regal brown was pleasant and finished beautifully, but under bar lights and blacklights and every other light associated with the inside of a bar at night it seemed to glow with its own light. Acres of surface greeted me, and when I stepped behind it I felt a sense of purpose, the need to bring professionalism to my job. I felt as if I needed to respect this large chunk of wood, to work towards the honour of standing behind this marvelous object wrought in Early American decor. HBO's Deadwood would've scooped this motherfucker up for Swearengen's place in half a minute.
I begin to wonder if my present salary would equal what is essentially minimum wage plus gratuities.