One of the benefits of thebeerchaser tour, has been the opportunity to meet some great bartenders. In fact, the trend started at my first stop in the Brooklyn Park Pub, when I told Phoebe the bartender about my project and she promptly gave me a BPP baseball cap. Although the number of bars on my tour so far is not great, I am compelled to name my preliminary all-star team of Portland bartenders:
- Phoebe The Brooklyn Park Pub
- Natasha The Gladstone Street Tavern
- Dave The Twilight Room
- Emily Prost
Indeed, the personality of the bartender will often determine the ambiance or lack of it in a neighborhood pub or a dive bar.
Perhaps all of us have wished we could have the barkeep experience and Hall of Fame basketball coach, Al McGuire of Marquette University, aptly conveyed the sentiment: “I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cab driver. Then they would really be educated.”
My favorite country-western singer, George Jones in his song, “The Bartender’s Blues” portrays the job as a downer – just look at an excerpt from the lyrics below:
Well I’m just a bartender
And I don’t like my work
But I don’t mind the money at all
I’ve seen lots of sad faces
And lots of bad cases
Of folks with their backs to the wall
But I got four walls around me, to hold my life
To keep me from going astray
And a honky-tonk angel, to hold me tight
To keep me from slipping away
However, each one of all-stars above was personable, friendly and appeared to really enjoy what he or she was doing. That said, there are certainly jerk bartenders, who hurt the image. My favorite crime novelist and the September Beerchaser of the Month, James Crumley, relates his experience with one of these in an excerpt from his novel, The Last Good Kiss:
“For a tip, I left him the remains of a stale beer. When even the bartenders lose their romantic notions, it’s time for a better world.”
Hats off to Phoebe, Natasha, Dave and Emily and the next time you have a pint, leave not only a good tip, but a kind word for your bartender. Their job is not easy:
The hard part about being a bartender is figuring out who is drunk and who is just stupid.
It has been both my observation and experience that some of life’s most important decisions have been made over a beer, in a tavern, talking to a new life-long friend you just met on the next stool over.
Thanks for your comment, Mike. It’s nice to have you as a subscriber to my blog.
This post has charming quotes and shows appreciation for people at work. It made me smile. I’m not a bartender, but come to think of it, I can relate to the drunk-or-stupid question!
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