A young man in his early 20s, works in shifts, sometimes only at night, but sometimes at all hours of the day. Drinks (of course), smokes (too bad).
Minimal nutrition, early morning hamburger, usually wakes up late.
It’s clear that I have stigmatized something that does not reflect 100% of all involved with the craft, but I’m pretty sure that any person who works or has worked in the past can testify to or identify with the stigma.
It’s not always bad, part of the fun in your early 20’s is enjoying the possibility of living a little “rock star” life style. Many start out in a bar as single, want to party a little (or a lot,) get up in the morning and roll a joint, finish a shift with the sunrise at sea, but all these things come with a price. First and foremost, the price of health, (which usually changes their conduct later on), but there are other “price tags,” which are less noticeable, especially in the aspect of “broken habits”. When a person follows a “normal” schedule, they learn over the years to use their time properly, to prioritize, to separate what’s important. What’s important is to take care of themselves, their hobbies, relationships, etc. It happens by itself, without notice, from the necessity of reality which arranges your schedule and that of the rest of the society in a synchronized way.
The hidden “price” of working unusual hours is first and foremost the very bad habit called “not knowing how to manage your time in order to have a good and enriched life”. A person who just graduated high school, is thrown into independent adult life without this very important concept of “time management,” which is used for our well-being.
A bartender who works 5 shifts a week, 6 hour shift, sums up a month with 120-140 hours, worn out, trotted and overbaked (again, not all of them, and not always.) But this amount of hours doesn’t reflect the full-time job accepted in the labor market (182 hours), in fact it reflects a few working hours, and the bonus should come in the form of a variety of options for a comfortable life, with time for whatever they want but this is seldom the case.
It’s a problem that tends to be glossed over, you won’t hear a word about it in bartending courses (because it’s not cool,) the bosses tend to completely ignore the personal needs of their employees, that’s how it’s a workforce that changes frequently, and of course there’s the emerging “culture” around the profession, which sometimes encourages bad habits (why don’t you have a shot with us?!?) or more (come on let’s go to the after party, it’s only 4 AM.)
The thing with bad time management, or maybe it’s better to say “non-time management”, is that as long as you’re in the loop you learn to live with it, you get used to it, but the real problems start around/after the age of 30, when conditions change. Relationship/family for example, this is a system that collides so strongly with “broken time management” that it’s almost impossible to manage a night routine, almost. Those who have learned to manage their time properly, from a place of awareness, trial and error, can lead a wonderful life alongside night work, but this requires a certain discipline. The exact same thing happens when salaried and carefree bartenders make the leap to business, a painful transition which requires us to change our perception 180 degrees regarding our work, the responsibility placed on us regarding waking hours and as a result it’s effects on our sleeping hours.
As a businesses owner for quite a few years in the night field, dealing with partners, employees, colleagues, customers, suppliers, businesses, family, entrepreneurship and more, I can testify that there’s no way to manage this whole thing called “night life” without the ability to master our time. How do you do it?
It starts with awareness of the matter, continues with discipline (to a certain level), and probably ends only when you die (or retire.) For my students who train regularly, I try to instill a little the habit of training, consistency and discipline. These habits, when they become part of who we are, will be the change that bartenders need in their lives when the moment comes, and they will come, they always come.
So next time you say “busy week”, or “I can’t find time”, know that you are not in the right direction, even if you are sure that you are.