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The Ugly Life of a Barman

Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay

I dropped out of college at the age of 19 after becoming disillusioned with education, which led me to work some awful jobs. After I dropped out of college 6 months into a course, I started working in the bar trade and I came to massively regret that decision. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to work in a pub; no early starts, working nights, being around people, having a good time, and so on. All of these things were slightly enjoyable aspects of working the bar trade, but the misery that went along with the job far outweighed any enjoyment.

The pub regulars may be the most depressing aspect of working in a pub. The doors of the pub I worked in opened at noon and at that time there would be 3-4 auld lads always outside waiting for their tipple. These lads were nearly always divorced; they’d read the Racing Post and the Sun cover to cover, they had pockets full of betting slips and perpetually smelt of Benson & Hedges. Paying for every pint was an ordeal as they would fork out endless amounts of change from their pockets to buy drinks. The coins would stink of cigarettes and I’d always have to wash my hands after dealing with them. They would tell me fantastical stories of flying helicopters on UN peace-keeping missions and how they played for West Ham but then would secretly drink naggins of Paddy’s whiskey in the toilets and vomit into the bins. It would deeply depress me that these men had amazing life experiences that sounded incredible and life-affirming but they were now just broken-down husks of men.

I became particularly depressed when I learned that one of the heavy-drinking regulars, who seemed to have an endless supply of cash, was awarded this money through a settlement he received after experiencing child abuse at the hands of the Catholic church. This regular ended up drinking himself into an early grave, and I felt particularly guilty for serving this person every day for 2 years. Weekends in this pub were spectacularly messy; one memory springs to mind of a particularly unpleasant experience. One of the punters, who was suspected to have bowel cancer and was consistently very flatulent, released some toxic anus gas and made a pregnant woman vomit up her West Coast Cooler on a table full of drinks. Checking the women’s toilets on weekend nights was also an extremely unpleasant task, with used tampons and 6 rolls of ripped-up toilet paper thrown on the floor every time. Along with an annoying amount of foundation strewn across all the hand basins.

The hardships of the barman lifestyle ultimately leads to consuming drinks at the end of the shift. Lots of drinks. This is the time to decompress and have your own taste of the poison you just plied half of Dublin with. These post-shift sessions can become especially messy if you are paid your wages weekly in cash as you start drinking Southern Comfort and whiskey at 2 am and end up putting half your wages back in the till. Being woken up at 6 am by the cleaners, lying on a pub bench, feeling like boiled shite, and smelling like a brewery is no way to live your life.

In summary, the real world sucks arse, and the more time you can spend working on yourself by studying, the better. Leaving my harrowing life as a barman and returning to education was one of the best decisions I ever made. Broadening your knowledge, meeting new friends, and pushing yourself towards something better is an enriching experience. Pushing myself to achieve the goal of a degree is one of the most satisfying processes of my life and looking back on it now, I wish I had savored it more from the beginning.

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