Tag Archives: job

New Orleans Diary: Weeks Eight and Nine

27 Jan

Goal: To write a weekly post documenting my time here in the Crescent City. I didn’t post last week because it was the inauguration AKA the end of the Free World and I thought that my self-indulgent posting was inappropriate and no one would read it anyways. Also I was probably crying. If you want to know all about me crying, you can read my post about that here. Otherwise, here we go. Combined Weeks 8 and 9 start NOW.

Safety: I have been receiving very different reports on the safety levels in this city depending on who I ask. For example, at work the other day there were a whole bunch of sirens and police cars racing all over the place and my coworker goes

Someone done got themselves shot. Happens all the time.

So I thought to myself,

Okay, not safe.

And then a few minutes later I said something about being nervous walking alone at night and the exact same coworker says

Nah, you’ll be fine. Ain’t nothing to worry about.

So then I thought,

Okay maybe safe?

So you can see my confusion, right? My manager told me it would be better to take a cab home when I work the night shift (not safe), but a different co-worker told me not to bother, I would be totally fine walking (safe). Of course at the same time my friend Katie was in town visiting and we took a Lyft home and the driver was a woman and she had a baseball bat in the front seat for protection. So I was like,

Oh, okay, totally not safe.

But then I was on the phone with my brother telling him about the lady with the baseball bat and explaining this whole safe vs. not safe conundrum and he told me how he was one time walking through NYC and there was some sort of an altercation and one dude went to his car, opened the trunk, and pulled out a baseball bat at which time the other guy went to his trunk and pulled out a baseball bat. The two guys menaced each other for a little while and then, realizing that they were matched equally, they put their bats away and continued going where ever they were going. So maybe bats are actually a thing that everyone should have in their cars as a baseline, sort of like ice chippers in the north. Because goddess forbid you end up in a bat altercation without a bat. I am a firm believer in the deterrent power of mutually assured destruction so I think maybe this afternoon I will head over to Modell’s and buy myself a Slugger.

Anyway, the jury is still out on the safety thing. Maybe some people can weigh in. But in the mean time, I am just using the strength of my gut, honed over years of navigating this world as a female. #blessed *

Fireball: My friend Rob (Hi Rob!) was training me behind the bar at the fantastic spot he works at yesterday and I learned a new thing: people like their Fireball cold here. We always kept our Fireball out of the fridge in Brooklyn. Sometimes I would chill it for people when they did shots, and sometimes I would put it over ice, but a lot of times people just wanted a regular room temperature shot. But not here! It is kept in the fridge along with the Jager and Rumplemintz, if you are in the unfortunate situation of even having Rumplemintz. One thing that is the same: every bar at some point ends up with a bottle of Rumplemintz that likely gets thrown in for free by the poor liquor rep who is tasked with the Rumplemintz account. That bottle then sits there for fucking ever because no one drinks that shit. Eventually the bar either just dumps it to make space for something else gross but at least marketable (ie Jager) or turns it into some sort of special wherein shots cost $1. Then when that doesn’t work they throw it into some sort of a mixed drink that is nasty and no one orders it so you just end up giving it away for free AKA dumping it down the drain.

So in summation: Fireball is kept warm in Brooklyn and cold here in New Orleans. Rumplemintz is pretty much reviled the country over.

Nutria Rats: I learned about nutria rats the other day. Um….these things are fucking huge and they have these massive teeth that basically look like when you take baby carrots and shove them under your upper lip and pretend to be a walrus only in the case of nutria rats they aren’t baby carrots they are actual teeth. Actual huge, orange teeth. Google them. Seriously. Tell me they don’t look like baby carrot teeth.

But seriously, nutria rats. They have been described as a cross between a beaver (hence the teeth) and New York sewer rats (hence the disgusting) and they are a real problem! So admittedly I didn’t do all that much research on them because they make me sort of queasy, but I will tell you what I learned. Nutria rats came here in the 1930s when some asshole named E. A. McIlhenny brought 13 of them to Avery Island for their pelts. Then there was a hurricane, as there are here, and some of them escaped and since they have no natural predators they just had baby after disgusting orange-toothed baby. (Think possums in New Zealand. Although I think New Zealand also might have nutria rats. Poor New Zealand.) The extra big problem is that they love to munch away on the plants that are indigenous to swamp lands, the very same plants that help protect from coastal erosion. So guess what happens when nutria rats run-a-muck and eat all the plants that stop coastal erosion? You guessed it: the coast erodes! So now there are like 5 million of them living on Louisiana’s southern coast and it has been estimated that they are contributing to a rate of soil erosion pegged at 40 square miles per year. Wow! That’s a lot of miles! And a lot of squares!

So what is to be done? Some people are trying to put nutria on menus, but the thing is a lot of people aren’t super keen on eating swamp rats. I get it. I wouldn’t want to eat any rats, swamp or otherwise. And not just because I don’t eat meat but because, ew, I have seen what rats eat, I lived in New York for 12 years. Rats will eat other rats if given the chance. Or they will eat your face. Nope, no thank you. The other approach has been to try and sell their fur, which was the original reason for them being brought over here anyways so it is sort of like making the whole thing go full circle. I mean, they have to kill the things anyway to protect the marshland, so might as well sell their skins I guess? I don’t know. And you guys, you will never believe where these furs have become popular. In the center of hipsterdom itself: Brooklyn. I wonder whether I could make a living selling their teeth as necklaces and shit. There has to be a market for that, right? Weird orange carrot teeth rings? Etsy, here I come!

Job: I got a job. I have to wear suspenders and a tie which makes me feel sort of dopey. Also, I had to buy some black pants but I didn’t want to have them hemmed so I bought pants for tall people that are I think supposed to be capris but since I’m not all that tall they hit just above my feet. So they’re sort of short, especially when they are constantly being hiked up by the suspenders. The result of which is that I look even dopier than I would have otherwise. Sigh. I can, however, make a damn good Sazerac now if I do say so myself. And I do. If you’re into that sort of thing. I refuse, however, to employ any sort of “flair” into my bartending. I shake with a normal shake, I stir with a normal stir, I don’t light things on fire and I do not throw things into the air unless someone scares me or I trip or something. I am committed to this position.

Politics: It is like a minefield. A minefield, I tell ya! I spend a lot of my time getting all outraged about the state of the world by visiting The Internet and my only real expression of this is through talking on the phone, mostly with my Mom, and sending outraged text messages to my friends, specifically a few of them (love you gals). Most of you readers know me personally and know that I am rather outspoken on issues of equality and justice and opportunity and all that. So you might be surprised to know that here I more or less keep my mouth shut. The result of this is that I cry more because I am so frustrated and also there is the constant repetition of

FUUUUUUUUUUUCK

running through my head at basically every single moment. This is made especially annoying by the fact that my ears are clogged and so I am living in a weird world where everything is muffled except for my own voice which is REALLY LOUD. So if I return home 75% less sane than when I left, you all will know why. It’s basically FUUUUUUCK and my loud, screaming voice all the time. Help.

Conclusion: I have to go because I am taking up a table at a cafe and it is getting a little rude at this point. I don’t want to be rude. So I have to cut this post short. Hope you enjoyed! Stay tuned! Xx

*That hashtag was sarcastic.

This is Me, Trying not to Give a Fuck About Assholes

21 Oct

I originally learned to bartend from a guy I used to date. He had just opened his own bar and had been in the game for awhile. I had done pretty much everything Front of House but bartend, save for pouring a few beers here and there. So there I was one night, having a glass of wine at his bar after coming back from a shift of my own in the West Village, when all of a sudden he got busy. I hopped back behind the bar to keep him ahead of the quickly mounting piles of dirty glasses and, while I was at it, I poured a few pints, giving him time to make all the carefully crafted cocktails he was known for. I decided right then and there that if I was going to continue in the service industry, I didn’t want to be anywhere but behind the bar. It felt safer, more in control and, dare I say it, a little bit cooler. So he started teaching me. He set me up with a speed-pourer equipped liquor bottle full of water, a jigger and a rocks glass and set me to work pouring out glass after glass of perfectly counted neat waters. He gave me a book of drink recipes and went through, X-ing out all the drinks he didn’t think I would ever have to know, and telling me to memorize the rest. He also gave me a piece of advice that I held on to, tightly, until, well, now. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that bartenders are like a community, and it is each of our responsibilities to educate people how to behave, and how to tip, so that other bartenders don’t have to deal with the crap. But today, October 21, 2014, something like 7 years after I was initially given that advice, I am calling bullshit. Not on the community thing, or the fact that in some way or another many of us are in this together — we warn other neighborhood drink slingers about dickheads and problem customers, call each other when there’s an incident, send our friends good customers when they decide to drink in another bar. I am calling bullshit on the idea that a lot of people are open to learn how to be, well, human.

Here is the thing. I have a super strict standard of behavior for myself. When I deviate from the standard, I am sent into an incredibly intense moral hangover that involves long walks, sulking, ill-fantasies, maybe some tears, apologies and, on more than one occasion, the purchasing of small (admittedly unnecessary) gifts. I really don’t like to act like an asshole. It doesn’t agree with me. And I operate under this misconceived notion that other people also don’t like acting like assholes. Or, perhaps more specifically, that they shouldn’t like acting like assholes or, even more specifically, that they actually don’t think they are acting like assholes at all. They are just being themselves. But realistically sometimes “themselves” actually just means “assholes.” Did that make sense? The point is that some people are just dicks. They are dicks and they don’t care. Well, you know what? As of today, October 21, 2014, I no longer give a fuck.

So here’s the deal. My dad once told me, and this is one of my favorite pieces of advice, that we can only have expectations of people that are in keeping with what they have previously demonstrated is possible for them. Like, if someone is a liar all the time, we can’t expect them to just randomly start telling the truth and we can’t really be that mad at them when they behave the way that they have always behaved. They are doing what they always do, I am just placing my unreasonable, in context, expectations on them. So I get to make a choice. I can either be cool with the fact that they are a liar and deal with it to whatever extent is necessary, or I can get myself all bent out of shape about it. But then who’s the chump? Me. I’m the chump all bent out of shape about an entirely predictable situation. And I don’t like being a chump just about as much as I don’t like being an asshole. So now let’s put this in conversation with bartending.

I like to think that when I go into a bar and order a drink I am pretty polite. I sit in my stool, I take out my $20 and place it on the bar (especially if I don’t know the bartender), I know what I want to drink, I wait my turn, and then I ask for my drink, book ended with pleases and thank yous. I love please and thank you. I might make friendly conversation, I might just read a magazine. I rarely, if ever, tell people I bartend unless they ask (sometimes the 20 gives it away) because to me that just reeks of asking for buybacks which is something that polite people just do not do. In the process of drinking my drink, I do not rip up my coaster or stir up shit, and when I leave I tip. Plain and simple. I like to think that I am a good bar customer more often than not. I even think that if I were serving me a drink I would like me and I might even say to myself,

“Self, that girl drinking the Powers sure is polite.”

And there are plenty of people who drink in bars that are polite. Or at least well-behaved. Or maybe they just don’t offend me in any way. But then there are lots of people who just down right suck. They also seem to travel in packs. They are rude, demanding, condescending, sexist, messy and all sorts of other things. Bartenders can smell them when they walk in the door. I don’t know what it is about these people but you just know, from first sight, or first order, that they are assholes. And in the past, I would want to let them know they were assholes, to educate them, or to prove a point, but not any more. Because you know what? That is not my job. It is not my job, or really my right, to force my own moral compass, my own standards of behavior, on other people. They want to be dicks, to a point, then fine, let them be dicks. That’s cool. They want their drink strong? “Okay,” I’ll say with a smile, and I will make it the same way I always make it. They want less ice? That’s cool, they can just get more mixer. They want to wave their glass at me, snap their fingers, flash their cell phone screen? I won’t tell them they did anything wrong, I will just send them to the back of the line. They might think I’m a bitch. They are welcome to their own opinions. Because here is the thing:  I am doing this for the foreseeable future. Maybe not forever, but for now. And the name of the game is self-preservation. And you know what makes it easier? Not letting it in. (Also, the fact that the new bar I am working at comes staffed with security. At a certain point, shitty behavior actually stops being my problem and that is a luxury I am happy to accept.)

So all you people who are awesome? Come see me! It’ll be fun. And all you people who suck? I will gladly take your money. And I’ll turn all the negative energy into creative motivation for my book. Because, yea, I’m doing that.

Tip #11 on Being a Good Bar Customer

8 Nov

Okay, so, I know I just did this but when it rains it pours, right?  If you want to check out the vintage tips, here are the links: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.  Share them if you have some badly behaving friends.  Or if you like to judge badly behaving people.  Or if you just think it’s funny.  Or not at all.  Whatever.  I’m not the boss of you.

So at this point some of you are probably all “this girl hates people and bartending and maybe she should just get a new job.”  You can feel free to think that.  Personally, I think I am doing a public service on behalf of all the other drink slingers who are annoyed by poorly mannered patrons.  I am also a firm believer that when someone is acting like an asshat, the rest of us can feel free to judge them, and even have a few laughs at their expense, without feeling bad about it.  So, without further ado, another bit of free advice from yours truly.  Unless of course you’d like to pay me.  In which case, yes please can you email me immediately?!

So I am not a person who really likes to be touched.  When everyone else is hugging and cheek-kissing and all that stuff, I have my arm outstretched in front of my body and my hand furiously moving about in an enthusiastic wave.  I find that if I approach it this way, I am able to create a friendly barrier.  It’s like, yea, I like you, I will happily interact with you, but only when you are at least 2 feet away from me.  The outstretched arm is sort of like the enforcer of my invisible force field.  And that is with people I know.  If I don’t know you, don’t touch me.  Seriously.  I will curl myself into the smallest possible version of myself in all public circumstances in order to avoid any inadvertent bodily contact.  I am not a hand holder, not a snuggler, not a fan of massages. So now that I have scared all my friends and have them all thinking

“oh my god I think I maybe gave her a hug once?  Does she hate me?!”

I will continue with the tip.  But only after I say this: it’s cool, friends, you can hug me.  You’ve passed the test.  Whatever that means.

So, the tip. I am aware that I am especially weird about touching, but I think I can speak for bartenders the world over when I say to you: do not touch your bartender.  Seriously.  Remember that lesson you learned in pre-school?  You know, use your words?  That also applies to ordering drinks.  You have a voice.  We have ears.  Let’s make this work.  So last night, when I was in the middle of a short conversation, one of my customers reached over the bar and poked me in the arm.  He had been standing at the bar waiting for me for approximately 15 seconds.  I know this because I saw him walk over, looked at him and smiled in the “I’ll be with you in a second” sort of a way. And then, because apparently waiting is so incredibly difficult especially when you have probably already had too many drinks, he poked me.  In the arm.  With his stupid index finger.  I would not wish the glare I gave him on my worst enemy.

So maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to some of you but it really is.  Being behind the bar is like being in a safe zone.  As bartenders, we are protected by the expansive piece of wood that separates us from the clientele.  Just imagine when you look at the bar that there is this invisible wall through which sound passes, through which drinks and currency pass, but through which your hands cannot travel.  Just because we are giving you drinks and laughing at your jokes does not make us public property.  We do not belong to you.

Okay, so, imagine that you are like, a computer tech person.  You are one of those people that answers phone calls from people like me.  People who know nothing about technology and need all the help all the time for the stupidest things.  And let’s say that I have called you and I am on hold while you are trying to help some other technologically-challenged person.  But let’s just say, for the sake of this tip, that I got impatient and I possessed the power, just like in the cartoons, to reach my hand through the phone and poke you on the arm to get your attention.  That would be shocking, right?  And not just because I had achieved a feat that previously seemed impossible. It would also be shocking because you’d be like,

“here I am, sitting at my desk doing my job and that asshole just reached through the phone and poked me on the shoulder!  With her stupid index finger!”

And you know what?  Your reaction would be absolutely justified because I should keep my hands to myself.  So just think about it this way.  The bar, it is like my desk.  You are the technologically-challenged person on the other end of the phone.  The space in between us is sort of like a phone cord.  Imagine that it is impossible for you to touch me.  Because here’s the thing.  I know that you are at the bar with your friends having fun, but that doesn’t make it any less of a job for me.  I am not your drinking buddy.  I am helping you fill a need.  The need for more alcohol.  It is, although it might not seem this way to you, a professional interaction.  I am a professional.  And you don’t touch professionals.