Saturday Night Open Mic: goodwill to all

December 21, 2008

It’s Christmas, or to observe the correct Noddy Holder pronunciation, it’s KERIIIISTMAS, which has meant a good two weeks of pain for anyone working in hospitality. I’ll preface this by saying I really don’t want to post specifically about work here, and all things considered, the holiday season’s been pretty smooth. After all, my bar hasn’t caught fire yet.

But Christmas is a tough time to work behind a bar, or waiting tables. I always think that it’s the one time of the year when bars and restaurants feel useful –  necessary isn’t the right word, but it’s close. There seems something ritualistic about a work Christmas party, a feeling that it’s a separate, though still important, affair from the family meal, and this is the time where we have to step up.

Festive customers don’t make it easy. My first ever bar shift was on the Friday before Christmas – the day we call Black Friday – and my new boss took the time to tell us to watch out for the people who don’t go out. Ever. Except at Christmas. It’s hard not to feel a flash of anger every time someone waves a bill in your face, or clicks their fingers at you, or argues about the amount of ice in their drink and how much it costs, and it’s harder not to take it personally. But somehow, every year, we get through it. We’ll call it an easy day if we finish after 12 hours, a quiet dinner service at 250 covers, and running out of ice a hiccup, but we get through it. We take the crazy requests, the stupid questions and the people who just refuse to understand, but we get through it. We end up broken and abused and so hungover it hurts to blink, but we get through it.

In twelve days time, we’ll sit down, together, with a beer or a glass of wine or whatever, and say, “Good work. Let’s never do that again.”

Until next year.

(Busy bar photo from S2 B’s Flickr photostream, issued under a Creative Commons license.)

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