How Did I Get Here?

Like most servers and bartenders in their mid-thirties, I really don’t know how I got here.
My twenties and thirties are a mystery to me. I know that I should’nt be a server. That I should be doing something with my life that my parents would be proud of. Something that would be a little more self satisfying and beneficial to others. A teacher, a paramedic, or maybe a vetenarian. Even a fireman, or policeman, or a government official of some type.

Not once during my childhood, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, did I say, “I want to be a bartender”.

Could you imagine being a parent of a six year old, and upon asking your beautiful offspring what they want to be in life, they reply with,
“ I’m going to serve food and drink.”

You would want to slap them in the mouth. But in this era of non-violent parenting you would just grab your child and hug them with all your might, while whispering softly, “No…no, Jimmy, you do not want to be a bartender.”

One day you’re fresh out of university, 22 years old and a little high on life mother fucker. The next day you’re a bitter, worn down 36 year old with debt up to your eyeballs and no chance of changing things around anytime soon.

You wake up for your day shift and have a shower and shave. Slide on your work uniform with the gay embroidery on the side. Kiss your girlfriend goodbye and head out to the restaurant. Or worse, you work the night shift, get home at 2:00 am, kiss your girlfriend goodnight, have a couple of beers and fall asleep on the couch.

Then the next day you do it all again. Before you can say “Can I get you a drink?”, you’re at the mid-way point of your life and you’re doing a job usually done by people 16 years younger then you.

Every career server has their story detailing how they reached this point in their life. Each story is different but generally there are several things in common.

First, when they started out they never thought they would still be serving at this point in their life.

Second, they basically partied away the core of their twenties and did’nt start thinking about what they wanted to do with their life until they had wasted a lot of time.

Third, they tried something else but hated it and could not handle making less money.

Finally, they had a series of bad decisions and negative life events that contributed to their current siutation.

For example, they got hooked on drugs. Or they got pregnant. Maybe their longtime partner left them and it took a couple of years to recover. Maybe they had one or two breakdowns and it took awhile to get back on their feet. Bankruptcy or some other type of serious financial problem is often a cause, usually due to extreme irresponsibility with their money.

More often then not, it is a combination of factors that led a perfectly normal and half intelligent human being to a life of servitude and misery.

I just made too many mistakes. Relationship mistakes, financial mistakes. Bad life decisions. Poor choices. I got in over my head a couple of times. Got hooked on alcohol for stretches at a time.

Just one too many mistakes.
Combined with a lethargic apathy towards life. A constant striving for mediocity, always settling for a slight notch below. It all seems to happen so fast, and yet not too fast that you don’t see it all playing out painfully in clear sight.

My story is the same story you’ll hear from a lot of lifetimes bartenders. It’s an aggravating tale full of dissapointment and head shaking bewilderment. A story that’s funny, sad, and revisited

many times over when a lifetime server is getting ready for just another day in the restaurant industry.

Halifax Server lives on the peninsula and loves Halifax. Email Server at Follow on twitter @halifaxserver.

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