Mornings off, free booze, and getting paid to hang with your friends — bartending can be a really fun way to pay the bills. But everything good must come to an end. Here are 14 signs that you’ve been bartending for too damn long:
1. You invent reasons to check the storage room.
Sometimes kegs need to be changed and liquor needs restocking. But when you start making up reasons to leave the bar so you can smoke weed in the walk-in fridge, that’s a sign to hang up the shakers.
2. You get too honest with patrons.
Part of a bartender’s job is to fake it. When a guest asks, “How are you?” the last thing they want is the truth. They don’t care that you are on a double, that the sink is clogged, or that you are nursing an epic hangover and feel like a pile of garbage. When you start venting your frustrations to your customers, be prepared for them to back away.
3. You know more about your regulars’ lives than the lives of your friends and family.
Bartenders can be part-time therapists for their regulars. But when you know more about Tony, the real estate agent, and his divorce, diet, and zodiac chart than you do your own spouse’s, maybe it’s time to re-examine your priorities.
4. You get upset when guests order cocktails.
Making drinks is your job. Yes, a complicated cocktail order when you are slammed sucks. But when it is 5:30 PM on a Tuesday and a table orders Martinis, make the damned Martinis!
5. You take shortcuts when you have plenty of time not to.
Fresh ice, perfectly-cut garnishes, beautifully-prepared drinks — to most bartenders, making a great drink is a source of pride. But when you’ve been doing it for so many years, pride can turn to apathy. Like with most things, look for the limp shake. It’s a definite sign that your bartender doesn’t give a fuck.
6. You’ve slept with all the attractive singles at the bar.
It’s Friday night, you’re making drinks, you’re in the zone, feeling hot. You take a quick scan of the room, and you realize you’ve already hooked up with a third of the bar. Occupational hazard, but also a sign to move on to greener pastures.
7. You let other people come behind the bar.
The area behind the bar is your domain and you are the master. Most bartenders are fiercely territorial over their space. Not because they are assholes, but because every time someone moves a shaker or misplaces a liquor bottle, it slows you down and can throw off your flow. But when you get to the point that you’d rather have the servers just pour their own beers, you are beyond over it.
8. You’ve seen couples go from first date to kids in school.
Bartending can sometimes feel like Groundhog Day. In other industries, with steady streams of projects and promotions, you constantly mark the passage of time. In bartending, witnessing other people’s life achievements becomes your marker. It may seem charming, but it can mess with your mind.
10. You’ve lost touch with all your non-service industry friends.
Sorry, but only the deepest friendships can survive years of opposite schedules.
11. You don’t know what to do with yourself if you have a weekend off.
Saturday night on the town? The thought fills you with dread. Plus, all your friends are probably working. Netflix and chill on your own?
12. You can’t remember the last time your hands were perfectly manicured.
Dry hands, callouses, tiny cuts, and peeling Band-Aids are the price you have to pay for the glamour of bartending.
13. You can’t enjoy going out to restaurants/bars on your days off.
Like a soldier sent back in the field, being at a bar is like being at work. Years of bartending make you hyper-aware of your environment. How can you relax when you see the empty water glasses that should be filled or when a novice bartender shakes your Negroni instead of stirring?
14. You need to pre-game before work.
A shot or two to power through a busy night is normal. But when you need to wake and bake, pop an Adderall, or chug a shower beer before work, you need slow down.
15. You’re kind of a dick for no reason.
When you feel yourself being rude to customers for little things, like asking for water, you need to take a break. You’ve exhausted your “be nice to strangers” muscle and it needs some R&R.