God Bless the Brawling Bartender

By | December 3, 2017


My first job out of college was the ultimate training ground for sales.  As a bright-eyed, eager 21-year old, I was selling office supplies to a wide range of potential customers in the Washington, DC-area.

I drove my mobile office from building to building, stapler in one hand, fax machine in the other.  Success was measured by the number of cold calls and distinction was earned by the number of times I was thrown out of a secure lobby.

While it was a great experience, it was tough to pay the rent while I built my business.  So, like many young professionals at the time, I took a second job to make ends meet.  Every Tuesday and Thursday night, I served as a small but scrappy bouncer at Malarkey’s, a long-defunct Irish bar in Bethesda, Md.

The hierarchy at Malarkey’s was typical of the bar industry.  At the top of the food chain were the bartenders,  who served drinks with quick-witted charm and flair.  Toward the bottom were the bouncers, who “escorted” unruly and over-served patrons out of the bar.  Bartenders didn’t fight.  Bouncers didn’t serve drinks.

But one Thursday night, we had a particularly rowdy group causing some trouble.  As I raced over to help out, I got blindsided by another member of their group.  Some fellow bouncers joined in, but numbers were not on our side.

Suddenly, our top bartender leapt over the rail and launched directly into the fracas.  He was quick and decisive in his actions.  It was exactly what we needed to gain the upper hand.  Within seconds the crisis was averted and we restored order.

The brawling bartender was not worried about leaving his safe little world.  He wasn’t afraid to step outside his defined role.  He simply wanted to help out for the benefit of the team.  And because he had our back, we would always have his.

And isn’t that the way it should be in our own lives?

Step Outside Your Defined Role

In our work lives, we all have certain talents.  Perhaps we are proficient with numbers.  Perhaps we dazzle in a presentation. Perhaps we possess incredible organizational skills or a knack for making wise investments.  Those talents serve us well and we need to embrace them and maximize their impact.

But we must be willling to lend a hand in areas where we are not as comfortable.   Sometimes the “number cruncher” needs to step up in a presentation.  Sometimes the “salesperson” needs to offer input to the spreadsheet.  Sometimes the “legal minds” need to get creative.  Sometimes the “boss” needs to jump out from behind the desk and mix it up in the trenches.

Our specialty should never limit our ability to contribute.  We should never utter the words “That’s not my job”.  We all have swim lanes, but we must be willing to stretch beyond our defined roles to help the team win.

Who Is In Your Corner?

And in times of crisis, it is even more critical to stand up and deliver.  Will you ever forget the individual who has your back during a difficult time?  From both a personal and professional standpoint, this allows us to stay resilient!

Solving a client problem on a Saturday morning when no one else is around.  Publicly defending an employee who is under attack by upper management.  Believing in a student or player when no one else seems to care.  Loaning money to a friend in trouble.  Offering a sympathetic ear to a spouse or family member who has fallen on hard times.  These are golden moments!

Our ability to stay resilient is severely diminished when we feel alone.  The smallest gesture of empathy or care in a difficult time will have an exponential impact on our ability to bounce back.  We all need someone in our corner.  Sometimes, we all need a brawling bartender to help out in our moment of need.

You’re on my fighting side!–David Allan Coe

It’s Time to Take Action

The  struggles we face are not easy.  There are moments when our job, our family, our life becomes overwhelming.  No one is immune from the trials and tribulations of the daily grind.  But just as we need someone in our corner, we need to step up and be that rock for our colleagues and loved ones.

We need to take action!  We need to stretch beyond our defined roles and “get ‘er done”!  We need to be responsive to the emotional needs of our loved ones.  We need to show we care even when the rest of the world has turned their back.

And sometimes we need to hunker down and fight for the people who have always been there for us.

The brawling bartender could have stayed behind the bar and been safe is his bubble world.  He didn’t have to stretch beyond his role.  He didn’t need to have our back.

But he cared.  And he took action.  And he wasn’t afraid to risk it all.

Who matters most to us?  Who needs us in their corner? Who are we going to fight for today?

Sometimes, we just need a little support to turn our lives around.

God bless the brawling bartender!


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