As we are flying through the weeks of 2018 so fast, I keep thinking more and more about the 17th March. I’m not Irish and I’m waiting for the Guinness. This date is when I jumped in the deep end, with my hospitality livelihood.
Starting work in an Irish pub known as Micky Finns, in the heart of Christchurch on the 17th March 2003. I didn’t know then that this would be the start of my passion for the industry. Starting as a glassy in a pub was something I enjoyed, at my age. I was in a place that only people aged 18 and older could be… except for me! Picking up glasses and having to wash the cigarette smoke out of my hair every night wasn’t the dream, but being part of a team that created a fun environment for people to come and enjoy their night out was great.
Micky Finns was a popular live music venue, with a low ceiling and the walls were filled with framed posters or maps or instruments. Trading 7 days a week, with live music every night. It was above Rockpool which was a pool hall with 32 pool tables and played drum n bass music on the weekends.
Being young, I didn’t know much about alcohol, so I took it upon myself to learn. Each shift I worked, I would pick a bottle from the back bar and learn about it, next shift was another bottle. I was only getting weekend shifts and I wanted more. I thought the more I worked, the more chance I could leave school. I was trained to help the cellar man during the day time, which managed to eventually get me out from going to school. I went from cleaning the floor from glasses and ash trays to cleaning ice machines and 600L beer tanks. I was still learning about science (effects of CO2), maths (stock control and ordering) and history (the building was the first bank in Christchurch) but just not in a classroom filled with students that didn’t want to be there. I was absorbing all the information I could get because I was enjoying learning again.
During my weekend nights shifts as back bar I would be around the bartenders so I could watch what they were doing because I wanted to become a bartender. I offered to come in when I wasn’t working to learn from the bartenders and work for free next to them. If they were bartending, I would just try to copy and paste their actions. I would offer to work shifts when staff called in sick. I was hungry for more hours. It wasn’t for the money so much, more for the enjoyment. I was meeting new people, listening to live music, making new friends and being part of a fun team.
On 10th December 2004, New Zealand banned smoking in all indoor workplaces. The third country to bring in this change, and it was a change! We had to create a smoking area and hide the smell of old beer from people spilling their drinks in the carpet, vomit and sweaty people dancing. Smoking had covered these smells prior. It soon become my job to buy incense for the bar, about $100 worth of incense at a time.
One of the owners had an influence on many staff, as he would make you more aware of your surroundings. Many times would he order a drink and leave it somewhere around the venue. It was a test to see if you were checking the floor for cleanliness. Sometimes a framed poster would be taken off the wall to see if you would notice it missing. This may sound bad to some people, but I think it was great training. I have high standards because of this training but many people have noticed this and complimented my workplace for being clean and tidy.
Being the first venue I worked in, it moulded me a lot of the way I am today in hospitality. I try to take something away from each position and I am always open to learning more.
I look forward to the Micky Finns and Rockpool reunion this St Patricks Day.