If the money you make covers your bills, then you have a real job. I never understand when customers ask me questions along the lines of “what’s next after this”. In other words, when are you going to get a “real” job. Not only is this offensive, but it’s presumptuous. I make an above average and very satisfying living as a bartender, I love coming to work everyday and my efforts are reflected in my tips. (Hint: You will always earn a proportionate amount to the value of services you’re providing). I love my customers, some of them have become lifelong friends. Rarely do I have a bad day, unless I’m hungover and when I’m hung over, I always regret not being able to put my best foot forward for my customers and be my chatty upbeat self. How many people can say they like their job and look forward to going in every day? How many people can request all the time off they want? How many people can write their own paycheck by deciding to cover more shifts and pick up more tables?
I’ve been happy in the service game for 17 years, which is why I regret letting unintentionally negative comments like “what else are you going to do” cause me to manufacture problems that didn’t exist, in turn, wasting thousands of dollars and valuable time pursuing other careers that were not a fit for me. This was a fear based decision. The fear that I couldn’t make money as a bartender “forever” (I don’t think people behind the desk can work forever either and they definitely don’t have as much fun as bartenders). People often come up with back up plans for me. My least favorite and most common suggestion from customers: “Why don’t you do real estate?”. Because real estate is an overnight success career that doesn’t require tons of hard work and networking? Because so many people who get their real estate license kill it right out of the gate and the industry is not over saturated? Terrible advice for someone who has ZERO interest in the real estate market. I often shrug off suggestions like these by saying “maybe I’ll move into management”, and this is ALWAYS a satisfactory answer regardless of how much managers in my current establishment make. My other favorite response is “I’m going to marry rich”, which is also a satisfactory answer, especially in Orange County and San Francisco (my hood). This kind of unsolicited advice on what to do for a “real job” spawned several expensive, unfinished projects and unnecessary education over the years - all of which bore no fruit because my heart wasn’t into it. Eyelash extensions and microblading anyone?
Here’s what I learned: Don’t let people convince you you’re not where you’re supposed to be in life. Only you know what is best for you, and only you can make yourself happy. If you’re making great tips and still enjoying your job, then keep doing what you’re doing until you feel like it’s time to do something else. It really is that simple, but the mind is a builder and people are curious. Once the seed of self doubt is planted by others (who mean well), it tends to multiply and before you know it you’ve created unnecessary fear and anxiety over the future. So don’t stress and get down on yourself. If ends are being met and bills are being paid, rest assured you have a real job.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A BARTENDER OR SERVER? Email me your thoughts for a feature! Hey@StartenderApp.com