Monday, 17 February 2014

Tip your Bartender, or Life as an English Graduate, or British People Don't Brag.

This time last year, as I sat in my university room, contemplating whether it was time to start panic writing my dissertation or whether it could be put off for another week, I was relatively calm. The kind of calm that comes from thinking that when you leave uni it can't be that long until you find yourself in a 9-5 office job. That you should enjoy this relatively easy life before you're waking up at the crack of dawn to earn the living that pays for your crappy London flat and severely reduced social life. 

Well, several months down the line (eight, to be exact) and I'm still hanging around the house (not the London flat, but at home with my family) at 4pm in trackies and a t-shirt that's now tie-dyed from the amount of times I've bleached and re-dyed my hair in it. The dresses and blazers that I bought six months ago for my imminent office job hang, beautiful but unworn on my clothes rail. I've had interviews. I've done internships - actually I just finished one last week - and I have 'put myself out there' as much as I could have, and yet I still can't persuade someone to pay me. Except, of course, the landlady at the pub down the road. I love bartending. I've done it since I was eighteen, mixed in with other things, and it has rarely let me down. I would happily bartend forever if it paid more. Still I can't help but wonder, why are we not told more about the real world before we are thrown into it? I went to a school where university was more than the norm, it was a necessity. You go to uni, and that's that. Now I don't for one second resent that - I loved uni and I know it was the right thing for me. For one thing, it stopped me running away to Africa, a country which, from experience, is pretty big on mugging me. What I do resent though is the way no one tells you that it actually won't help you get a job. Yes, you will be more qualified, and in that respect it will. You can at least apply for better jobs. But in terms of actually getting them, you're no more prepared than before. 

Because I have a degree, I can now apply to be an  account executive, or a junior digital marketer. But I have no idea what that means. Obviously, I've researched it and, on paper, I know what the role entails. But, throw me into an office and the cracks would appear pretty hard and fast. University has in no way prepared me for the real world, with the exception perhaps of reinforcing the knowledge that I will always feel like I'm surrounded by people having money thrown at them for nothing, while I work two jobs to, maybe, be able to pay my rent. This is in my head. I know this. But it still makes me feel like I'm failing. Add to this the fact that everyone around me seems to be falling into their dream jobs and it's a wonder that I get out of bed in the morning. However, I'm starting to see through the illusion a bit. The curtain has been pulled away, and there is the small old man playing the wizard. Largely because I've noticed, the main 'dream job' status updater has landed three of her 'dream jobs' since last summer. And they're all in very different fields. Now, perhaps she's just a very positive person, or perhaps, more probably, she too has fallen into the facebook trap that is, in my humble opinion, ruining society. 

Let me start by saying that I love facebook. I can't get through a day, or even a boring television scene without it. But it has ruined good old fashioned British modesty. Because we now have an audience for every part of our lives, we have to make it all seem very exciting. We have begun celebrating every minor victory as if we have been given not only a golden ticket but the entire chocolate factory. But all it's really doing is making everyone else feel like, well, a bit of a failure. And it's a vicious circle, because obviously they don't want the social media-verse to know this, so they'll post an over-celebration of their latest tiny win to trick the masses into thinking their life is bloody wonderful too. This would never have happened if they had to share that  news in public. Name-dropping, place-dropping and general bragging is just not acceptable face to face. You wouldn't get it down the pub, so why is it ok on the internet?

This is one of the reasons I love the pub, and it brings me onto my second point. Everyone loves the pub. It's a staple of British society, as bars are all over the world. So why is bar-tending looked down on? (I'm guilty myself of responding to questions about what I'm up to with 'well, I'm just bar-tending for a bit'). And why is it not one of the highest paying jobs in the country? Imagine what would happen if there was a pub strike in England? It would be chaos across the country, regardless of class, social status, and if you consider the amount of family pubs, age. So I firmly believe this needs to change. We bartenders are therapists. Rent-a-friends. Often genuine friends. We will flirt with you regardless of what you look like (but remember we rarely mean it...).We will pick you up at the end of a rough day. You celebrate with us, commiserate with us, and your social welfare largely depends on us. Ask someone who their favourite bartender is and they'll know instantly. But who's your favourite lawyer? Or accountant? Or digital media analyst? Not a clue. So start a revolution with me. Maybe it is only temporary, but  I'm not 'just a bartender'. I'm a Bartender. And you couldn't make it through your week without me. 


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  2. Ahh wrong button. I have been guilty of posting my musings about my job on Bookface and I shall buy you a drink next time I see you to say sorry. Sorry if I caused any offence.

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