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Can I Show You Something?

A 22-year-old bartender's call for action against all bar managers

By Deidre Lynn ThompsonPublished about a month ago 5 min read

Today I cried over dehydrated fruit. It’s the new spilled milk. Get with it.

This is an ode to anyone in the service industry. But managers, look away. Especially if you manage the undisclosed restaurant I bartend at.

Something you should know is that I am cursed. The curse was placed on me when I was but a child, that I would always look like a child. I became a bartender because people love bartenders and I have an animalistic need to be loved. I have the treats and the dogs never stop licking. (My father also tells me that I am an elephant guarding peanuts, and he’s not wrong.) But in this industry that I have chosen, there’s so much that works against me because I look like I can’t even sit at the bar let alone work behind it.

Also the restaurant I work at takes “top shelf” very literally, so the nice liquor bottles are on a shelf that hangs inches from the ceiling. So anytime someone wants any age of Macallan on the rocks, they immediately feel awful as they watch me take out the step ladder. It might be working for tips, though.

Upon starting at Undisclosed Restaurant, I’ve spent the last three weeks thinking I was stupid because of restaurant managers. I have slowly learned that restaurant managers are not all-knowing, they are bored.

Managers have this ability to watch their employees like a hawk, and question every little thing they do. I can be watched when I perform, because I’ve practiced this and also, I am someone else. But I cannot handle being watched when I am simply come as I am, because I DONT LIKE MYSELF NATURALLY, that’s why I PERFORM. TO BE someone else.

The service industry is common sense, it really is. Yet, one of my managers called me the other day after my lunch shift and asked where I put the cash for the bank. I replied, “in the cash drawer.” He said, and I quote, “why?” True story.

Managers might as well be saying, “why are you taking the smartest option possible?”

Because our managers make the bar their office, seat 101, at this restaurant, I am the shakiest bartender the world has seen. Your drinks are extra cold because of how much I’m shaking in front of these managers, seriously. It also gives them reason to correct EVERY LITTLE THING I DO. I can feel their eyes glaring through the huge bottle of Eris that is unfortunately our house vodka, and onto my gloved hands.

We have three different managers. They ALL talk to me like it’s my first day holding a lemon, so I don’t have any favorites. Today I was cutting lemon and lime wheels for the fruit dehydrator. It’s our garnish, it’s all about the garnish, people go nuts for the garnish. Take my word for it. One manager comes over to me with a really concerned look. He says, “can I show you something?” I say, “of course,” and back away from my station (the top of the dishwasher). He proceeds to tell me the wheels are too thick. I apologize and tell him I’ve never used a fruit dehydrator, as I’m pretty sure it’s not a common household item. I am prepared to move on and do better next time.

“I think you’re wasting your time with these,” he says.

“As in, throw these all out and start all over?”

Mind you, this contraption has 10 LAYERS for citrus wheels. It’s a TOWER that can hold around 20 wheels per layer. Do the math.

So there I am, throwing 200 thickums into the trash can. I am now slicing each piece of fruit, so thin, that each sliver can cut the next sliver. I have cut each tip of my glove off (they are too big for my child hands) in the process. A different manager appears, as if he was a ticket out of the all-too-quiet order printer.

“Can I show you something?”

“I guess.”

“These are too thin. They’re going to fall apart.” He proceeds to take one in his hands and rip it in half. I apologize and tell him my dehydrator in my gourmet kitchen in my mansion is broken and it’s been a while.

So there I am, throwing 200 blades of fruit into the trash can.

I am cutting them all again to prove a point. To prove that I should be taken seriously, and that I am above all this manager bullshit. I tell myself to remember that managers are BORED. They have nothing better to do than to comment on my cutting abilities.

But as I am cutting, I start to wonder why I am not taken seriously. Is it my vertical challenge? Is it because I don’t have any tattoos? Is it because I have a common habit of being too nice and letting people walk all over me like a doormat? Is it because I wore a One Direction shirt into the building this morning before I clocked in? It could be but it’s probably not that.

One of my favorite coworkers tells me to just say ok and move on. She tells me I apologize too much and that I don’t need to justify everything I do upon being corrected. But sometimes I just can’t help it. I can’t have people thinking I’m stupid. So I have to explain that the reason I didn’t take the menu away from the guest after they ordered is because they asked to keep the cocktail list and it’s on the back of the menu; or that the reason I didn’t take out the big rocks is because it’s lunch and no one orders whiskey at noon, but more importantly they will melt by dinner. She’s right, I should just say ok. But I NEED them to know those things because those reasons make me smart, rational, a logical bartender. Instead of stupid for “forgetting” the menus or the ice. So instead, I’m spewing words at the managers quickly while they walk away.

But none of the other bartenders think I’m stupid, none of the customers think I’m stupid. It’s only the managers. So why did they hire me in the first place? I wish someone had told me you need tattoos in order to be taken seriously as a bartender. I’m great with the customers, I do more prep work than all the other bartenders combined, my bar is SPOTLESS every day and every night, how am I still getting corrections on things like LEMONS?! I AM NOT STUPID—

“Can I show you something?”


That’s when I cried. When the third manager appeared.

And since this is my place of gruesome honesty… I’ve cried at least once at every restaurant I’ve ever worked at. And also on my birthday every year, yes I’m one of those girls.

You may ask, why do you continue to do a job that makes you cry? Valued reader, because bartending allows you to walk home with under the table cash every night. And also because a server the other day told me that I was an all-powerful alchemist that has the ability to alter people’s blood content. So now I have the power and the peanuts. I will do this forever.


About the Creator

Deidre Lynn Thompson

Girl Moves to NYC and Becomes a Writer Thinking It Will Make Her Famous (EPIC FAIL COMPILATION)

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  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    This is a great story about your life as bartender, and funny! I found this very clever: takes “top shelf” very literally, so the nice liquor bottles are on a shelf that hangs inches from the ceiling. And, yes: the "habit of being too nice and letting people walk all over me like a doormat?" is the answer. I actually think you need to tell the MANAGER, that you are the DEPARTMENT HEAD of BARTENDING. Then chop those lemons super fast in front of him, swipe the counter clean, wipe your hands and hand him a very cold and shaken non-alcoholic spritzer.

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