7 Signs You Need to Return to Bartending

by Melissa Allen Aug 20, 2019

You can take the bartender out of the bar, but you can’t take bar life out of a former barkeep. Some former bar staff move on to new careers and industries, but, after a break, some need to come home again. From missing the camaraderie to hating your early morning alarm, here are seven signs you need to return to bartending.

1. At the company happy hour, you’d rather be behind the bar serving your co-workers than making small talk with them.

Awkward small talk is a part of most work environments, but as a bartender, you can always escape the small talk by feigning busy work. As an office worker trapped at an employee happy hour, you’ve got to fake a phone call to get out of there. If, as a former barkeep, you find yourself staring wistfully at the liquor bottles as your boss drones on about quarterly projections, maybe it’s time to get back behind the stick.

2. You assault your cell phone every time your morning alarm goes off.

Mornings are rough on most, but when you have spent your working life adapting to evening work hours, mornings are even rougher. If it has been years of fighting with your alarm and you still haven’t adapted to the nine-to-five, maybe that’s your sign.

3. You say things like “I used to be a bartender” to any waitstaff you encounter.

Former bartenders love reminiscing to current bar staff about how they used to work in a bar. If it seems like no one makes a Manhattan like you used to, you can’t believe what passes for good service these days, or you feel the need to befriend every bartender you meet, maybe you must accept that you can’t quit the bar game.

4. You miss the feeling of camaraderie at work.

There are few industries where you connect with your co-workers in the same way as the service industry. At times, it can feel like high school, but you form deep friendships from working in the trenches together. It is a very special dynamic that is hard to replicate in the white-collar world.

5. You get nostalgic for the family meal.

The family meal, the pre-shift moment when staff all gather round to share some food, is a cornerstone of many hospitality jobs. It is a moment to check-in, to gossip, to bond with the back of house, and to complain. Often, even at great restaurants, the family meal is barely edible — it’s the chicken that is about to go bad, it’s the pancakes from brunch that didn’t sell, it’s the dry pasta that costs a nickel a pound. So, if you’re waxing nostalgic about family meals of yore, you’re in need of a reminder to bring you back to reality.

6. You can’t wait to tell someone “no” to a request.

In the service industry, it is your job to accommodate customer requests when possible. Even though pleasing people can be rewarding, it takes a toll. There is nothing more satisfying after a day of “yes” than saying “no.” Do you have Casamigos? No. Is your kitchen still open? No. Can I get a rum and coke (even though I am visibly wasted)? Hell no.

7. Bartending has become your “good ol’ days.”

Nostalgia for our youth is part and parcel of aging, but if bartending were the best days of your life, maybe it’s a sign that working in bars is the place for you.

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