Today was my last day of bartending. It’s bittersweet. Exactly one year ago naive and quiet me began working at The Last Resort. I wouldn’t speak unless spoken to; I kept my opinions to myself.
Bartending was horrifying at first. I had to serve drinks to people who were nearly double my age and older. They’ve been around; they know their beer. How was I, eighteen-year-old barely legal Samantha, going to survive?
I took it one step at a time. And now that I look back, it was all a blur. I had so many firsts – a bunch of adventures, a loss and gain of friendships, some of the best experiences of my life and things I wouldn’t change for the world.
Upstate New York, almost Canada – I’ve lived there my entire life, and I didn’t know anyone. Since I began bartending I’ve met family I have never known and cultivated friendships with my patrons.
In the past year I was a psychologist, marriage counselor, bouncer and editor. I’ve been a shoulder to cry on, the voice of reason and an asshole. I’ve helped my patrons just as much as they have helped me. The tear-in-my-beer regulars and bar hoppers have taught me how to care for someone. I dipped into my maternal instincts because, let’s face it, when someone is inebriated they pretty much need a mother.
Regulars made me gifts, tipped me extra and brought me flowers. I would look forward to working when I knew it was the weekend and a few of my favorite people would be there.
My people-reading skills have quadrupled. I walked into the bar and was hit on by nearly every single man in the room. Cute guys would show up, flirt with me and send my head spinning. I had to catch myself a few times – most of the men are broken and confused. I need to be the rock of the night, not the lady of the night.
I did fall for a few of the young men (of course, old enough to drink) and every time I ended up heartbroken. It took me awhile, but I finally understood my worth and value as a woman and they began to respect me. Up until my last day at the bar I was still waving off or snapping at a comment or innuendo.
Part of bartending is dealing with obnoxious drunks and not closing until 2:30 a.m. I loved the job. Most times it didn’t even feel like work at all. The Last Resort became my home away from home.
I also made some pretty awesome drinks (thanks to Pinterest). It would get a little boring serving beer all the time, so when someone wanted something new I made a cocktail.
I know my beer, and I can make a wicked cocktail. Bartending has been the best experience of my life. I’m outgoing, speak my mind and don’t take any crap. Nineteen-year-old me has broken out of her shell, and I’m ready to take on the world!