North Texas Daily

Bartending may allow for excessive drinking habits to form

Bartending may allow for excessive drinking habits to form

Bartending may allow for excessive drinking habits to form
August 14
19:53 2018

I never wanted to be a cook. But for some reason, whenever I find work it’s always around food and alcohol. Though I’ve never worked in a full-fledged bar or nightclub, I’ve catered parties, served in restaurants and cooked at a wine bar. These days I work in Denton at a restaurant that stays open after the bars close.

One thing that has been consistent at almost every gig with some sort of bar is that workers are either sneaking themselves alcohol or being encouraged to drink by their bosses.

The first dining job I had didn’t abuse the availability of alcohol too badly. It was a company that was made up of family members and friends of the family. Everyone worked exceptionally hard, handled themselves professionally and business was growing. Things only went awry when the partying, college students of the family became the go-to bartenders. If you were cool enough with them, they’d tell you how they drink the inventory from time to time.

While this was a relatively tame environment compared to what I would experience in the future, it was still one that allowed habits to be formed by those students and the ones that would come after them.

The next place I served was a more formal dining restaurant and had the only bar I’ve worked at with a sensible consumption policy. This restaurant made employees leave for an hour and come back without their uniform to be able to purchase a drink — a drink they wouldn’t receive a great discount on. I never became close with any bartenders there to see what happened behind the scenes, but I was impressed that they took a firm stance on discouraging drinking at work.

The third job sold wine, beer, food and was family owned, but had a party atmosphere with music and games.

I turned 21 shortly after I became a cook there and the owners at the time offered me a beer when I was closing down the kitchen. It didn’t surprise me as some of the staff had mentioned that they were allowed a beer every night shift, but it seemed a bit surreal, like a frat boy’s dream.

Turns out it was definitely too good to be true. That one beer per shift rule turned into, “You get a beer when you start closing and finish it quickly so you can get another before you leave,” or, “Oh wow, this wine is about to expire, might as well have a glass before it gets busy.”

Who knows how many times people drove home over the legal limit. After it happens one shift, it happens again and again and forever, until there is new ownership or something terrible happens.

So now when I roll the trash down Fry Street at 3 a.m. for my new job, through the windows of the bars I can see that the lights are completely out, but employees are gathered around the counter chatting. I have no way of proving they’re consuming alcohol, but I don’t know of many other reasons to hang around the bar for an extra two hours after the crazy weekend rush.

The food industry is physically demanding with low compensation which makes it easy to say yes to drinking on the job. Once a person drinks to help escape from a situation though, it becomes a vice. It is a dangerous routine to be drinking on the job, not only because of the dangers of driving home, or that it becomes easier to make mistakes and be fired, but because it fuels a desire for the substance.

If hard work triggers someone to grab a shot, then what happens when they are having a rough time at home? Their head will crave the substance that made them feel better at the bar.

Featured Illustration by Elizabeth Rhoden

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Patrick Cleath

Patrick Cleath

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