A Bartender's Guide to Measuring Up in your Relationships

Archive for June, 2015




   I’ve been bartending for a decade now. I can say with confidence that I am a great bartender. However, I am not a flair bartender. I don’t do tricks, special effects, or anything extraordinary outside of the glass (or your taste buds ;)). I tried to learn once while working at this quant sports bar. But my working there didn’t last long, so neither did my flair career. Kudos to those who pull off flipping bottles in the air, and pouring seven different shots from seven shakers into seven glasses, simultaneously. That is a special skill, I must admit, that I am intimidated by.
     If I were to measure my bartending abilities against those who flair, I’d feel inadequate, like a complete failure. So, I don’t. I recognize that flair bartending is a subsection of an industry that I belong to. Everybody can’t do everything. And the fact that I can’t flair doesn’t take away from my usefulness or appeal as a bartender. So what’s my barometer? I create specialty drinks on a moments notice, have mastered layering, crowds and speed aren’t a problem for me, patient, and I’m someone others come to to learn from. In my book, that makes me valuable.
     How do u measure your worth? What’s your barometer? Most often in our lives–and especially in relationships–we tend to compare ourselves to others to gauge our desirability, our usefulness, our worth. It seems easier to notice the qualities others possess that we don’t, –their flair,— and get down on ourselves because we feel were lacking. How often have u heard or said, “I wish I had his_______,” or “I could never do _______ like she does.”? My question is, why should you? Why should you be anyone other than who you uniquely are? Someone else’s light doesn’t dim your shine, unless you let it. Just focus on what you do well and others will too.


Work Your Relationship Like You Work Your Job


     Some of my favorite bars to work at have a lot in common with my most favorite relationships. The way time flies when you’re having fun, great bonds formed, I learned a lot, I felt energized and motivated, and a genuine desire to please. Bartending teaches you how to be diplomatic, how to listen, how to put others needs first, and how rewarding that can be. You also learn to not put up with crap, when you’re in way over your head, and when to move on to the next one.
    Being in a relationship can be similar to having a job. There are different levels of commitment, probationary periods, time spent earning trust, benefits, promotions, mistakes are made, and, when necessary, termination of the agreement altogether. Both can be rewarding if handled correctly. 

     Approach your relationship, whatever stage it’s in, the way you would your job. Make it a priority. Work at it, stay focused, and don’t focus on being “fired.”

     While some relationships are more like a long-term career, others are similar to an “At Will” Employer. You’re called when needed but free to explore other options, and they owe you no explanation if they decide to terminate, and can do so at any time, and vice versa because there is no expressed commitment.
     A lot of times in the beginning, you don’t know how it’s going to go. However, not knowing how it will go when you’re hired for a job doesn’t make you walk around at work with the constant fear of being fired. Instead, you do your job to the best of your ability, having some fun along the way, hoping your efforts will be recognized, appreciated, and rewarded. This thinking can be very useful for a relationship as well, particularly a new one.
    One of the best ways to keep your mind off of what might happen is to make sure you’re getting what you want from the relationship as well, and not simply going along with what the other person wants just to have him/her. Because, like your job, if you don’t have a genuine passion for what you’re doing, you won’t give it your all. Instead it’ll become a burden to you. You’ll start showing up late, or calling off plans all together. And your partner will notice your lack of enthusiasm the way a boss would, and respond accordingly, either with a warning to do better or ending your situation altogether.


     If your relationship comes to a point where you feel you need to move on, give it the kind of ending that respects what was had. Most jobs require two-weeks notice. It’s mature and gives your boss enough time to prepare for your absence, whether that means finding a replacement or adjusting their schedule accordingly.  Even people who are fired are told what went wrong. Likewise with a significant other. A proper break-up prepares him/her for your absence. If not face-to-face, at least put your thoughts in writing.
     I guarantee you a reason–any reason–is better than no information at all. This provides closure. Nobody should ever be left to wonder what happened. That blocks the healing process and takes a bit of that person’s soul away. That’s one of the reasons there are so many broken men and women out here dating today. Because someone they once loved and claimed to love them back, didn’t see fit to give the ending a proper burial. Work your relationship like you’d work your job. It’s a good barometer on how to treat people in general.

**Excerpts from The Barometer: A Bartender’s Guide To Measuring Up In Your Relationships

How Cool A Customer Are You?


     I went out to dinner with a couple friends. After being seated, it took a while for our server to make it to the table. When she came, she started with the drink orders, taking my two friends orders then walked away in a hurry before I could even give her mine.
She only had two other tables, but I watched as she did laps around her section, tending to those two other tables and continuously walking past ours. By her third lap, when I saw her pick up a water pitcher to refill the other tables but we were still minus drinks and my drink order, I got fed up.
     Being a bartender for several years I know how good customer service works and this wasn’t it. I didn’t know what her problem was with my table but I wasn’t going to stand for it. With service industry arrogance dripping off of me, I walked over to the server station and asked another server if she could take our table.
     Julia came over promptly. She took down our beverages, and food–because by now we had been sitting there long enough to have decided–and was back in a flash to quench our thirst. The first server did finally come back with a few drinks–their two and a wayward coke no one ordered–but by then I resolved that we’d stick with Julia instead.
     The rest of the meal went off without a hitch. I thanked Julia for her lively service, adding in my praise for her how I didn’t know what the other girl’s problem was with us and the regaling tale of woe about my experience before her, to which Julia replied, “She’s new.”

Now I feel like a bitch. 😟

     Those two little words  pierced through me, stinging like heartburn. I wished she had told me. I walked out of the restaurant feeling ashamed because I remember those first days in the industry, when every little thing was new. You’re juggling learning the system along with learning people and learning about the things you’re serving. Just two tables can feel like having the whole restaurant to yourself. In those early days, I blurted out to every person, “Hi, I’m new,” like it was my name.
     I wished that I had known she was just starting out. Better yet, I wish that I had had the patience to observe a little longer and I would have figured it out like I have so many times before. I pride myself on being that compassionate and cool industry customer who knows how it is. I usually talk new servers through the experience and give words of wisdom and tricks to the trade. My know-it-all got the best of me.

     We do something similar in our personal relationships, particularly the seasoned ones.

    We think we know how our partner operates so we stop observing them the way we did when things were new. And our expectations become super high because we think they should have this relationship thing down by now. We stop asking questions to check-in and instead assume our significant other should know how to give us what we want.
The minute things aren’t going according to our plan, we bail to someone new who might be able to meet our needs better, instead of finding out what’s going on with the one we claim to care about.
     We’re quite a self-centered society, and in a hurry at that. We always think the grass is greener on the other side failing to realize we could have green grass too if we only took the time to water it.
     Patience is a virtue, and at the root of it is the lesson that to be patient is to consider there’s something happening with someone else besides ourselves. Patience is about empathy.
     I wish I had been more patient with my first server. Let her bring us the wrong drinks and talked her down from her nervousness. I wish I could’ve been a cool memory for her and not the one she likely went home and cried about.
     What’s your barometer on patience? Are you being the best customer you can to the person in your life who may get flustered sometimes but is trying hard to serve you joy?