I have been working in bars on and off for 5 years. Let me tell you all about it. My first bar job was at an awful place on James St, Northbridge; it was expensive, tacky, loud and smokey, and attracted either 19 year olds from the rich outer suburbs, or professional salaryman/woman types who enjoyed coke, pills and average DJ sets. The tips were good, but the customer interaction was soul destroying. The hours were pretty brutal too. I got the job there when I was 17. That’s got to be illegal. And at that point in my life, I thought that smoking bongs everyday was more enjoyable, and way cooler, than drinking a glass of wine everyday. After about a year (I think? It’s so hazy…), all the smoking combined with the awful human beings I was serving began to take their toll. I freaked out, stopped turning up to shifts, and went on centrelink. It was a good year before I could bring myself to get a job again. Then I got a job at a video store, and everything was good again. God damn, I hated that bar.
A year or so later, I was offered some shifts at The Bakery, also on James St (kinda) in Northbridge. I jumped at the chance; not only was it my favourite venue, run by a rad team of creative and dedicated people, but a whole bunch of my friends worked there too. It didn’t take me long to adjust the whole “bar job I enjoy” thing. The hours were much better, I loved my workmates, and I was getting paid to serve my friends and peers in the arts and music community, all the while dancing around to the myriad great bands that played there. I’m kind of glad that my departure from Perth coincided with the (temporary?) closure of The Bakery, because I would miss it so much if I was still living back West. It was a great time in my life, (oh, to be 20 again), and I’ll bet most of you reading have some very fond memories of that place too.
The bar I work at in Melbourne, however, has actually changed me as a person.
I have always been a little trashy, but these days, thanks to this crummy little bar, I’m a TOTAL TRASH BAG.
Regular readers of this mail-out may remember a piece I wrote about my bar when I first got the job. In it I detailed the being-embraced-into-a-family vibe I experienced. 9 months on, the Bar Open seed planted in my womb has grown, sucking me dry of any normality I had left, and has turned me into something close to a fully fledged functioning alcoholic. This last week in particular has been one long, sleep deprived party. And I was working 4 out of the 5 nights of it. Never before have I felt like such an outsider. The feeling has always been there to an extent, what with teenage angst and an interest in the arts, but now that I generally only see about 5 hours of sunlight a day, not including the sunrise before I go to bed, and the fact that I get paid to feed the bellies of regular people a poison that helps to distract them from the aspects of their life they hate, all the while feeding myself that same poison to help me embrace the ridiculousness of the situation… I can definitely say that I have a completely different outlook on life to those of you who work from 9 to 5ish, regardless of the industry. The world changes at night.
I definitely couldn’t do this forever. I really like sunshine when I can get it, especially if I’m not hung over. I also like being able to see colours properly, and you can’t do that in moonlight (perhaps this is why I dress in mostly monochrome these days? I’ve forgotten what real colours look like!). But for now, it’s very, very fun. And I’ve got all the bad aspects of our societal structure to thank for it. Way to go capitalism!