I was chatting idly the other day to my mate Alex, who happens to be a barman. The hospitality industry is notorious for high staff turnover rates (he and another staffer are leaving in July), and this means pretty steady recruitment issues.

Here’s the thing, though. If you work in the industry, you bung in your CV and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get an interview with the head hombre. You talk the talk, lie about your practical bartending skills, and end up pulling 12 hour shifts.

The practicalities of bartending skills are, however, something you can learn. You can pick them up as you go along, even if you’re a tyro. Alex’s idea is little short of genius. Instead of an interview, you have to spend half an hour chatting to a regular. If he, she, or in the case of some regulars in Essex, it, takes to you you’re in.

I think this would be a great scheme. Talking amiable bollocks is a skill all barstaff need, along with the ability to deal with gin-induced maudlinism*. But selecting the regular(s)’ suitability might be a problem.

Clearly you wouldn’t choose me to be the first exposure if you value the sanity of your potential new grunt. Interviewees would be running for the fire exits. You wouldn’t want the weegie Scottish Brian, that’s definite. Conspiracy Theory Andy, he’d be an unfair choice too. In the Saracen’s Head, where this conversation was taking place, there’s a weekly meeting of the local Rotary Club. They’re largely a bunch of wankers, with ideas well above their station. Almost to a man (and they are all men, apart from one I’m wont to call Botox Barbie who looks as if she’ll tear her skin if she smiles or blinks) they are arrogant, boorish, unduly loud, and extremely poor tippers. Kev and I refer to them as the POFs, or Pompous Old Farts. I don’t think early exposure to them would be fair, since the UN would refer to it as ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’

I’ve never worked a bar, but I think I’d last about ten minutes before I cursed out a customer. Anybody snapping their fingers to get my attention, or tapping coins on the counter (or worse, on a glass) would feel the full force of my ire. Ditto ordering six drinks when the last one mentioned is a Guinness. People have died for less.

*Yes. It is a word. I looked it up.

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