1. They might or might not be able to drink on the job, but they always know what will hit the spot the moment they get home. Even bartenders need to self-medicate, and they’re probably more than happy to do so after dealing with your petulant ass.
2. Bartenders are walking, talking landmines of juicy secrets; should a bartender ever find him or herself interested in penning a tell-all, they won’t waste their time telling you the tricks of their trade. No, they won’t have to. It’s far less interesting than the relationships they’ve seen break up, or the mistresses they’ve listened to complain about their paramours. They’ve seen enough shady backroom deals to pale the most resolute of hearts. They’ve seen individuals from every walk of life laugh, cry, bust up and fuck up. Yes, they’ve seen it all. People trust bartenders more than they do their therapists or close friends.
3. They know each and every evening on the job will likely boast some kind of entertainment. But they also know the evenings will undoubtedly include their share of annoyances, so they plan accordingly. A bartender with an attentive barback and fair management behind him knows that his word is law and that having the home field advantage renders him a practically impenetrable fortress.
4. Most bartenders are fairly outgoing people, and they know people are paying them because they’re looking for a way to waste their own time. Bartenders are happy to while the night away talking with you––but it comes at a price. Tip them well; they’re people with bills to pay just like you. (And they’ll remember you if you don’t. They. Always. Do.)
5. They know that networking, if nothing else, makes the job great. They’ve got a guy for everything––and they know who all the snake oil salesmen are, too. Nothing gets by an experienced bartender. Connections are especially valuable to those who aren’t in the business for the long haul.
6. As hard as customer service can be (anyone who says customer service “isn’t difficult” frankly has no clue what they’re talking about), they get satisfaction out of knowing that they, minus the inevitable bad apples, of course, make what they earn. There’s something remarkably pleasing about walking out at the end of a good shift with a nicely sized wad of cash in hand.
7. Everyone wants to be the bartender’s friend, and they meet a lot of intriguing people while at work. The regulars all have their idiosyncrasies. The out-of-towners all have their special requests. The old-timers all have their memories… and their stories. Bartenders are social animals. They soak up new people and new experiences like sponges. A casual introduction to different cultures and ways of being is regularly discernible on the other side of the bar.
8. They take pride in their work, because appearances are everything. Not cleaning up their stations is out of the question. On busy nights, when anything and everything can potentially go topsy-turvy, it (literally) pays to have everything where it should be so they can rely on their muscle memory alone. Bartenders know from experience dealing with all sorts of individuals––from the kind and generous to the stingy and uptight––what will bring them peace of mind. While each night is different (with some of these nights venturing into downright chaotic territory) they’ll handle problems as they arise, and stick to the plan. It’s the little things.
9. They know how to read the scene. A good bartender knows how to relate to their patrons while maintaining a safe distance. It’s a balancing act (and they’re not superhuman; they likely break this rule and disclose too much personal information about themselves from time to time) but this skill comes in handy outside of work as well. They’re judicious with their words, because they know words matter. They know language is important. They know first impressions are valuable.
10. They have no illusions about their line of work, but they know they are valued. Bars and taverns have, historically, been safe spaces for individuals of all kinds to gather, speak openly and unabashedly and, most of all, have a good time. To have a part, however small, in creating a positive memory for someone (whether they’re celebrating a friend’s birthday or in mourning after having their heart broken) is an immensely gratifying feeling for those who live to serve.