Why every shift I successfully complete is a triumph…

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I have worked in many different areas to some extent; retail, admin, service, event planning and teaching. However my most challenging area so far has to be my current occupation – working behind a student bar.

The job is simple mostly – someone orders a drink, you make the drink, they pay for the drink. Once you’ve worked for a couple of hours you tend to pick it up (but that does depend on how fast a learner you are). The hardest part is probably remembering a list of several different beverages, which is easily rectified. However, for a person with depression, it is possibly the most overwhelming job in the world.

As I have mentioned before, depression feels like you’re drowning in the ocean, constantly fighting to keep your head above water. And when you turn around to witness a bar full of students, with no where to turn, that drowning feeling becomes much deeper, and much stronger. The queues seem endless, and it’s not even in a straight line. You have to remember who you’ve served, who you need to serve next, and keep on going until the end of the night. If you haven’t done it before you would not believe how overwhelming it is to turn after making a drink to witness what feels like thousands of students waiting to be served.

When you pour a pint and the barrel has some air in it, the pint gets ruined and each and every drunk person tries to ‘teach’ you how to pour it properly even though you’ve been doing it for (what feels like) years. If you make a drink incorrectly they make a big deal out of it, even though you only have to go and quickly make it again. You’re constantly asked if you definitely put two shots in their double vodka cranberry, because they didn’t see you do it. And then you have to deal with people shouting at you because they’ve been waiting half an hour (calm down guys, you’ve been there ten minutes), waving money in your face as if that will persuade you to serve them first, and telling you who to serve next because apparently the hot girl next to them has been waiting a long time. Yes the job is simple, but every second that I last there is a huge triumph.

You see, I go home after my shift and replay the whole night in my head. I even dream (extremely vividly) about my shift, and wake up thinking I’ve forgotten to do something or still feel like I’m there and get up to quickly change the barrel before realising I am at home and it’s actually all over. And while I am there it takes all of my strength to keep going. A hell of a lot of deep breaths and moments of “it’s okay, you can do this, just take them one at a time and go at the pace you want”. It took a while to be able to get into the swing of things, but each week I get better at it.

What I am trying to say is, even though to most people working one shift, or even one hour, in this industry seems like nothing, I count it as the biggest achievement. And I encourage people like me to do the same. It is NOT easy to go to work in the evening and know you’re not going to be able to leave until the early hours of the morning. It is NOT easy to serve hundreds of people, forever worrying that you’ve made a mistake, and having to listen to complaints or have to ‘shoo’ people who are making out in front of the bar. And most of all it is NOT easy to do it with a smile on your face when inside you feel like you are drowning.

If you’re like me, count your achievements proudly. Because you deserve it. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you should be proud of that. I know I am.

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Written by: Philippa Berry

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