In Politics or Journalism, Having Worked As a Bartender Helps Give You a Good BS Detector

Thanks! Bartending + waitressing (especially in NYC) means you talk to 1000s of people over the years. Forces you to get great at reading people +hones a razor-sharp BS detector. Just goes to show that what some consider to be “unskilled labor” can actually be anything but.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2017

By Jack Limpert

A post last week quoted Maggie Haberman, a star reporter at the New York Times, as saying her early life as a bartender made her a better journalist: “That was the best training that I had for learning how to approach people.”  Having also worked as a bartender before going into journalism, I expanded on Haberman’s quote with more wisdom you might pick up behind the bar, along with a lot of tip money.

Al McGuire, a great basketball coach who won a national championship coaching at Marquette University, said it this way:

“I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cabdriver. Then they would really be educated.”

During five years of occasionally attending classes at the University of Wisconsin, I tended bar on nights and weekends, serving drinks at places from country clubs to shot-and-a-beer bars. I made good money and ended up agreeing with Al McGuire that you can learn more behind the bar than sitting in a classroom.

It also can find you a job. After Wisconsin, I went to law school, learning only that being a lawyer wasn’t for me. The bartending work—in particular, serving a few drinks to the president of United Press International news service—got me into journalism, first with UPI and a couple of newspapers and then at the Washingtonian magazine.

Working as a bartender makes you realize that people come with a wonderful variety of charms and flaws. Dealing with drinkers also helps you develop a pretty good B.S. detector, something ever more needed in journalism.

Speak Your Mind