Shift after shift I watched the bartenders rake it in as I waited on tables. What really got me was the lunch shift. The bartender had maybe served four customers at the counter, handed over ten or eleven to-go meals, and filled a hand-full of soda orders for me, yet at the end of the lunch hour walked away with more cash in his pocket than me. I on the other hand, had just worked three hours, served 25 lunches, folded a hundred napkins, and easily covered about 3 miles between the front door, the kitchen, my tables, the bar, the computer station over and over again. I knew he'd made more mula than me when I sat down at the bar for moment to tip him the mandatory 10% of my beverage sales and watched while he counted out all his tips from the day right in front of me. It was more than double what I had earned and about 20% of the effort, and that's being generous. I wasn't against hard work, but I also wasn't an idiot.
The next day I went to the general manager and asked to train to be a bartender. He said no. I asked why, and he said they didn't need any other bartenders. Someone else told me that the GM believed women made better servers and men better bartenders, but I could never prove it (and honestly didn't really care). So I asked if I could learn more about making drinks by coming in off the clock and working for free on the busy nights. Thursdays and Fridays were extremely busy at the restaurant and I argued that it effected the bartender's ability to get the servers their drinks. A little voluntary help behind the bar would be beneficial to everyone. He agreed.
For the next 4 weeks, I gave up my weekends for free-work, an unpaid internship, or whatever you want to call it. I didn't take a single tip or make one extra buck on my paycheck. But what I gained was the valuable skill of bartending. At the beginning of the fifth week I gave my notice and two days later I landed my first gig as a full-time bartender at a four-star hotel.
And of course, the rest is history.