Houston, we’ve landed a show gig!
Say goodbye to bartending…for now.
Turns out when you work as a seasonal employee in the F&B biz (Food and Beverage), them insurance rules be a changin’. As in, you get none, unless you qualify for Obamacare which made my head explode trying to figure out. Meanwhile, back at the ol’ Theatrical Union ranch, our insurance and it’s qualifications are changing. Sticking with the devil I know means pitting myself out there for a full-time gig…or rather, a temporary full-time gig. For anyone who works in the entertainment industry, nothing lasts forever and we’re all a bunch of freelancers gigging from theater to tv to film and back again.
If you’re lucky.
Yet, it’s this very hustle is the reason I went into bartending in the first place.
One of my favourite midtown bar joints features a whopping $3 beer challenge, a smashing jukebox, and cautiously friendly bartenders. Being a regular of sorts helps to cross the divide of tourists, annoyingly drunk college kids, and 9-5ers who desperately hate their jobs and continuously question living outside the city. This bar features two gal bartenders and two guys, with one being the original owner’s son. It’s unusual to have a staff of bartenders leaning towards the average of late 30’s.
I find this comforting.
One night, my inquiring mind wanted to know how THEY achieve insurance bliss, so I asked one of the gals. Key factors revealed included a heavy cash bar with credit card minimums; lack of computerized systems recording hours on shift, thereby the inability to track tipping wages punching in and out as head server; therefore the ability to prove low income earning. Bingo, no paying into Obamacare.
I had no idea.
For me I lucked into a temporary full-time, theater gig mid October. Looking back at how hard I worked bartending and how much I made makes me feel nostalgic already.
Ok, I’m still a novice bartender but we had goods times, didn’t we??
This current gig is so busy my theory of picking up a shift on the day off may put me in the hospital just so I am forced to recuperate from the six day work week. I go up three stories worth of stairs eight times minimum per show.
A little backstage levity.
On matinee days, 16 times. If only it were continuous I could get my cardio in too.
I’ve learned lessons from this summer though: no bartending gigs featuring food at the bar. The chefs are slowly becoming normal and not all Wolfgang Puckish, but there are still some scary ones out there. I once got yelled at for noting a VIP client not wanting capers when I sent an order in. One chef almost had a pulmonary at the bar, clutching the order ticket in hand.
“I don’t understand this order,” Chef said.
“Errr….she wants to make sure we didn’t put capers on her plate…”
“This dish doesn’t come with capers!” Chef huffed. “It confuses the kitchen-this note!!”
Pause. “Okay…,” I said. I continued making drinks for the lunch rush.
Meanwhile, a week earlier, a different Chef, same client, same order notation and nothing at all was mentioned.
Hmmm. You just know that one of these two Chefs is a lot of fun at home. At any rate, I’ve discovered that my next bartender gig will feature a corporate-less environ. Maybe not nearly as amusing, but hopefully not so…specific…?
Bottom line, I’m appreciating the stories coming to me from behind the bar. Maybe writing about them is igniting something.