On Fatherhood and Tending Bar

I have been bartending for a long time. For fear of dating myself, I won’t say quite how long, but it is up there–I have been in the food service industry since before I could drive, and behind the stick for about half that time. For those of you who know me, I will allow you to do the math. Working in restaurants has taught me a great many things, and has prepared me for more real life situations than any schooling could have. But of all the things that bartending has prepared me for, being a father to a newborn is the least expected.

Here are the top five things bartending has inadvertently trained me for, while dealing with my new born child:

1. Patience: Dealing with people who are intoxicated and have lost their sense of logic is not dissimilar from dealing with a crying newborn. Neither will listen to you; both are going to do what they are going to do, whether you like it or not; and, in the end, you have to make sure you are the one in control.

2. Dexterous Fingers: Working in the kitchen, serving, and bartending have taught me how to work with both hands at the same time. Whether it is pouring multi-bottles in a club, or using a jigger, or changing a diaper, being able to use your left hand almost as effectively as your right hand has become an indispensable skill that I was never formally taught.

3. Staying up late: In the bartending world, we, as bartenders, keep late and irregular hours. As a father to a newborn, I have to be willing to be active and ready for anything at any time of night. After years of doing this (bartending, not parenting) I find this a less daunting task than if I worked a nine-to-five.

4. Eating Fast: When you are working, you might have eight minutes to steal away from the bar to shove a burger in your mouth while simultaneously talking to a co-worker and making a cup of espresso. It’s the same when my baby just went to sleep, my wife is sleeping, and I need to shove a turkey sandwich in my face before I go crazy. This may be the most unhealthy way to eat, but I am accustomed to it.

5. Standing for Long Periods of Time: Every good bartender worth his sweat should be able to hold down his bar standing for eight hours. As a parent to a newborn there is a whole lot of standing (and patiently bouncing your baby with your left hand while shoving food into your mouth with your right at four in the morning).

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