Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Server vs Bartender

I made the mistake of accepting fill-in bartending shifts at the Sports Bar. Why is this a mistake you ask? True, bartenders make two to three times as much as servers per shift. Their tips average higher per tab and they usually get tips immediately when people pay by cash per round. This was a mistake because it made me realize just how much waitresses get screwed.
The first bartending shift I covered at the Sports Bar was spur of the moment. My bartender came into work feeling dizzy. She made it through lunch but it was clear she needed to leave. After my tables had cleared out she was approved to go and I took over the bar as well as continuing to take the few tables that walked in. Most of them ended up sitting at the high top tables in the bar area where I could keep an eye on them. When they initially sat I came from behind the bar and approached their tables. Upon greeting them I politely told them that there was no server and that I was bartending but would be more than happy to get them anything they needed. After delivering their drinks I went back behind the bar and continued to serve the customers seated there. After several minutes a man from one of the tables walked up to the bar and asked me if there was a server. Uh…no. I thought we had covered that already. He proceeded to ask me for two menus. I collected two menus from the other side of the bar and turned to give them to the man but he had returned to his table. Sighing, I walked out to the table to deliver the menus.
Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t mind multitasking and doing the job of both waitress and bartender. It keeps me busy and the tips are usually phenomenal when people see that you are doing both. What I don’t like is the attitude that some people have regarding the service industry. The Sports Bar is a very low key and laid back place. While I pride myself on giving great service to customers I, in my disillusioned way, expect to be treated with respect by the customer as well. He had already walked up to the bar, what is the harm in waiting to take the menus back with him?
Now I am allowed to cover bartending shifts when no one else wants them or the Sunday bartender asks for the day off. We have had an agreement for the past 8 months that if she asks I will say yes. It is the only shift that is “mine” to pick up. Being that I work 6 shifts there a week and go to school in the evenings I am not available for the others that may open up for the night (on the off chance that the other bartenders don’t want to pick it up). This week the Sunday bartender injured herself and needed the weekend off. Since it was a game day, another bartender snatched up the shift before I could say anything. I worked all the slow summer Sundays and the bye week and my reward is having seniority pulled on me and losing out on a $500 plus shift.
Seniority should only count to a certain point. I understand the concept, but being that the turnover is low among the bartenders no one has the change to move up the seniority ladder. I will always be the last for opportunity even though I am the lowest tipped employee there due to my regular shifts being lunches.
My mother did teach me that life is not fair but that’s not going to stop me from saying that the Sunday situation was not. Being that most places make an employee work up to the position of bartender I am better off where I’m at than starting over somewhere new. In the meantime my frustration will continue until I am kindly thrown a bone by one of the superior bartenders.

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