Have you ever noticed the difference a position at work changes the way people look at you? I have.
Between working the door and working behind the bar people look at you much differently. Recently I was offered a shift that I've had before at a different venue. I believe it was offered to me in order to keep me quiet and secure. In hopes that I wouldn't get pissed off and just up and leave.
Over the years of talking with Paulie I've made it clear the jobs that I didn't want and the jobs that I wanted. I've said that management was an interest. I've said that a slow bartending night was of interest. I've said that a barback position was never an interest.
Why wouldn't I want a barback position? Well, from my point of view the barback is actually the bartender that stocks the shelves and cooler at the end of the night. Your the bartender that does all the heavy work. Technically, the bartender that doesn't do the stocking is the senior person and only has to tip you out 27% of the tips. Usually on a slow night it's a 46 - 54 split because the barback does get tipped out by the waitress as well.
So of course, the position that was offered to me was the barback position. Which is typical of most clubs that I've worked with. You start out as security, go to barback and if you stick around long enough you get a bartending position. This would all be fine with me if not for one thing. I was promised a management position. Instead it was given to a different person. I was told that the position was given to the other person due to a lack of bartending experience on my part.
My argument is this.
How hard is it to walk up to a person sitting at a bar, ask them what they'd like, serve them, and then put the money in the register. It's not a complicated thing. I'd dare say a person could do this job without as much as a GED. Besides, I've worked in bars and I've worked behind them. Politics corrupt even the venue.
Despite my disapproval, I decided to take the barback position that was offered me. It was easy enough. I walked up to people, asked them what they wanted to drink, served them and put the money in the register. Strange that I could do that so well as a barback but not as a bartender. Throughout the night I stocked the booze and beer.
I did this for a very limited time. I ended up giving up the position on the simple facts that I didn't want to spend more time in the establishment. This shift was added on to all the shifts that I already had there working the door and I didn't want to be there any more than needed. Even though the extra $50 was nice, it wasn't worth being there.
After I gave up the shift I noticed other things. It's strange the amount of attention you get when you're behind the bar. I received phone numbers from women that are still regulars that never paid any attention to me before when I worked the door. Was I really that much different when I worked behind the bar as compared to working the door?
A couple weeks after giving up the bar shift I started getting questions from these same women.
"When do you work behind the bar again?"
"I gave up that shift. It just wasn't worth being here that extra night."
After that I'd see them come in and I'd say hello but they wouldn't have anything to say. I even called one after she had given me her number while I was working behind the bar. She wasn't interested any more.
It's funny, a lot of people seem to think that working the door is the lowest position you can have at a venue. I don't really know why they think that.
The guy at the door talks to every person that walks in. He's the first person that every person sees when they walk in and a lot of time he's the one that will determine if you decide to come in. If he's nice and friendly then you'd come in. If he's pissy then you'll probably decide to go somewhere else. On a busy night, he's the one that determines if you'll be waiting in the line or skipping the line. If you're involved in an argument he can help determine if you leave or stay. He can use some influence in getting you cheap drinks at times.
In my opinion, it's a down grade to take a position where you might make $4 an hour and depend on tips. Especially with the economy in a rut the way it is now. I don't think my landlord or utilities would understand when I don't make enough tips to pay my bills.
Not to say that bartenders don't make decent money. I know some that make $300 - $400 in a 4 hour shift. They're the ones that have the weekend shifts when it's busy. The guys on the slow weeknights usually make between $100 - $200. So sure, if you have a few shifts spread out amongst a few different places there's an opportunity to make some cash.
For me, it's not worth my time to give up a door shift to take a shift where I could make between $50 - $100. Not to forget my $5 hourly... which comes out to be about $15 after taxes if I'm lucky.
Honestly, how many bartenders take any one that hits on them seriously? The bartenders probably get hit on by dozens of people a night. I'm sure there are a few exceptions out there but I'm sure most of the time it's a one nighter and that's it. Not too bad of a trade, sex for cheap drinks.
I found it funny how uninteresting I became after I gave up the shift. I also noticed how many more people wait in line to get in now.
Man, I'm an asshole.