The Start of a Night Hustle … Bartending

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This is not the bar where I currently work. This was my very first time being behind a bar at a different spot

by Brittney M. Walker

When I moved to New York, I came on a few thousand in savings and hope that I’d land a media job within a few months.

Well, my savings quickly diminished and my dream job was nowhere in sight. I applied to who knows how many jobs, went to countless networking events and joined all types of media clubs, meet ups, and organizations. Still, nothing.

I started to get a little worried, stressed, and all of those things people do when money is running out.

I started to apply for retail jobs and I hardly got any responses for those. But I met a manager and his GM at the Vitamin Shoppe in Brooklyn. I was hired on-site, basically. But I still had to go through a gamut of interviews and what seemed like a forever process. While I waited and traveled to appointments for this nearly minimum wage job, I was second guessing my decision to take on the position because I know I’m a restless soul, like independence and flexibility and want to do what I love which is travel and write.

In the meantime, a friend of mine started to suggest solutions for me, including bartending. So I actually was excited about this one.

I interviewed at a bar in Bed Stuy and was hired, with no experience mind you. But the boss was willing to train.

Long story short, I only lasted two shifts at the Vitamin Shoppe before I quit. I didn’t even make $100 by then. But I was totally relieved.

I stayed with the bartending gig.

The first month was intimidating from the drink recipes and fast pace to the flirting with the customers and entertaining folks.

One night I worked with a more (not much, though) seasoned bartender. At the end of the night, we took a cab home together and on the way, she gave me tips.

Observing my personality and style, she commented that I was bit conservative, which can essentially hinder my sales* and tips.

*The bar I work at includes some level of competition. Bartenders are challenged with making more profit for the establishment and when they work together, sales are compared to see who made the most. Some bartenders are fired as a result of consistently low sales.

So I took her advice and slowly invented this eventual alter ego I call “Pretty.” She’s a sassy sexy barmaid that somehow manages to stay professional while giving the guys a little false hope. She wears makeup, tight clothes, sometimes shows a little skin and laughs at stupid jokes.

She was a gradual growth. Each time I worked, I tried something new with my outfit, changed my hair, and somehow budded this new confidence that inspired flirtation in a more aggressive way.

It was working and my tips were growing.
In my first month or so, I made a few mistakes like serving Moet Champaign in place of Moscato wine and charging the same. I hadn’t historically been a big drinker or watched too many rap videos. So it was all the same for me.

The bar owner was livid for a while, but kept me around, he later revealed because he thinks I’m smart. Lol.

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