So I've left everyone in suspense here as to my new career move. Since I'm in a big period of transition, trying to figure things out, still unemployed, etc., I figure this is as good of a time as any to try something new. That statement is ironic as 3 or more years ago, I would have negated and shunned that thought all together. After all, we are creatures of habit and ritual.
I have decided to attend bartending school. And yes, you really can become a professional bartender, licensed and all. I checked the local school here which is accredited, established, and seems like a nice place to learn. The school only lasts 2 weeks for four hours/day. The schedule is flexible, coming in either in the morning, at night, or on the weekend. Upon graduation, you become licensed in all 50 states. This school will also help you with job placement here or any of their other affiliated schools across the country.
I met with the enrollment person last week and took a tour. It's a nice set up as it simulates what an average bar looks like--all 200+ bottles. It is a bit daunting at first, but I think just like everything there is a learning curve, and then you get it. Plus, it is really helpful that I tend to have a good memory.
In talking with this person, I learned a few interesting things. One question I was curious about was how many people who enrolled who were not drinkers. She said about 80% of people were non-drinkers, and quite a few of them had never had any drinks at all. I, myself, am not a big drinker, though have tried various mixed drinks--sex on the beaches, daiquiris, fuzzy navels, mai tais, long island iced teas, cosmopolitans, some blue drink which I think was a blue hawaiian. This person considered me a "sponge." LOL
Many are asking why would I even choose bartending. Well, for a variety of reasons actually. One, the money which is mostly tips can be good if you are doing your job right. This is also dependent on where you are working. For me, I'd only be choosing upscale, nice places. I do not want to have to deal with off-the-wall drinkers who only drink to get drunk, and then do some stupid stuff. In general, nicer places will also have a different clientele who will order more sophisticated drinks.
Two, the hours can be flexible depending on where you work. And truly, I do want to have some kind of life outside of just work. Also, this type of career tends to be stable. If you think about it, it's like eating,. Generally speaking, people have a tendency to eat by emotions--sad or happy, etc. The same is with drinking.
Three, I think this could be a good way to challenge myself out of my comfort zone. I'm typically a shy person, don't necessarily talk much until I get to know you, but always friendly. I know for a fact that I will always be on the reserved side, that I will never be your typical social butterfly. But, if I can teach myself to in a way to "be on" when I need to be, I think it will give me more confidence in the long run. Even the enrollment girl I was talking to picked up on this, and said she could imagine me being chatty with someone. Truly, that's part of bartending. Sure, part of it may be that you make good drinks, but what gets people coming back is you and your personality.
I also know for a fact that I'd be a very ethical bartender. I could never live with myself if something ever happened to someone, knowing I could have prevented it. This place helps you in dealing with customer service and situations where people have had too much.
I start class tomorrow. It feels a bit weird going into a classroom again with a pen, paper, index cards, and a highlighter. I'm hoping it will be worth it. I kind of look at bartending as cooking. There is some science and art to it--a basic recipe and then your added touches with presentation. I'll keep everyone posted how it goes.
p.s.--This idea ironically came from my father, you know the one who has been telling me for years to go back to school. I never would have thought he would have said this though. He also told me about someone he knew that was a bartender in New York, making $1,000 in tips/night. Being in the midwest, that will likely not happen.
p.p.s--In some ways, it still feels odd thinking about this profession, but at this point I do need to think financially here. And I'm having a hard time to catch any breaks on the job front.