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Tuesday, August 24

That Promised Post

I've been promising for far too long that I will write this post, so here goes nothing.

As you know, I'm currently back working behind a bar again, for the first time in over 2 years. My last pub was a relatively quiet, typically country rural pub, which had loads of regulars and lots of visits from daytrippers in the area. I was merely a barman there, just as I am now, but I ended up being one of the more senior of those of us behind the bar. Whether this is because I had been there longer than the others, or due to my naturally arrogant decision to take on a leader's role is debatable.

This new pub is different. It is still a classically old-school "boozer", with no pretensions to becoming a gastropub, or even to serving any kind of food whatsoever. You can get peanuts or crisps, and not much else. It is all about the drinking. The drinking, and the conversation with the barman.

I am no longer anywhere near senior in the staff hierarchy. In fact, of the four of us there, I am quite decidedly the most junior of the lot. I'm still so very loud and dominant though. Call it a male reaction to a female-dominated environment (the other three are all women), or again just call it my naturally arrogant manner.

What I have rediscovered about myself is that I am very, very confident behind a bar. Obviously, I know my shit and am very competent when it comes to the actual business of pouring and serving drinks (you tend to be able to pour a pint properly after more than a year behind a bar...), but I'm also very full of myself when I'm behind that bar.

For all of the bullshit that "the customer is always right", and the fact that I am working in a service industry, the bar is about me. I am the one who strikes up conversation, who leads it in a certain direction, and quite simply has the power.

I dictate who gets served in which order; I am in control of how quickly the customer gets served; I choose whether to start conversation or not; I am the centre of attention in that bar.

This applies both when I'm working by myself or with other bar staff. It's not to say that I don't let anyone get a word in edgeways, merely that I make myself heard as and when I need to be.

I have noticed that I speak quite loudly when I'm behind the bar, whether it be talking to one of the customers individually or simply greeting them as they arrive at the bar. My voice is noticeably louder than if I am away from the pub, chatting to a mate or something. I guess it must be a confidence thing.

When you know that you're the centre of attention, and that all eyes are on you, you play up to it. I flirt with nearly every single woman that comes into the pub (except for those clinging to the arm of a boyfriend... Even I have boundaries), ranging from a simple "Alright darling, how you doing?" to more involved and even conversational flirting.

Put me in a situation where I am not behind the bar, however, and I would not be able to repeat that. I simply cannot go up to a girl in a club or bar and strike up conversation. I find it difficult to even contemplate doing that. Why is it that when I'm behind the bar, confidence flows through me? I need to learn to translate it into the rest of my life (although it seems recently that all of my life is being spent behind a bar).

One thing that was said to me, which I think I mentioned here a week or so ago, that reiterated the point I'm trying to make here was by one of the regulars that comes into the pub. He told me that I was a "natural barman", rather than a "drinks server", which I assume is a whole world apart.

I guess by this he meant that I had a personality and put this across as I served the drinks. I can't help but do this, I really can't! Contrary to popular belief, I do have a personality, and it doesn't just switch off when I get behind a bar.

I'm not a loud, brash person, but I do like to satisfy my ego to such an extent that I like to be heard in the kind of situation that bar work is an example of. What can I say, I'm egotistical. So sue me.

And that's about what I wanted to say. I'm arrogant (to a point), I'm loud (well, louder than usual), I like to be heard and, above all, I'm so very confident behind a bar. It's a pity that only the arrogance tends to show itself when I'm not working...


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