I'll be finishing my last two shifts behind the bar at the winery in the next couple of weeks, and it's causing me to reflect on my experiences as a tasting room attendant.
The best (and coincidentally, also worst) part of my job has been the people -- the best, my coworkers, all of whom I enjoy and most of whom I'm friends with outside of work. And the great customers I meet -- people I'd love to invite over for dinner or to my home for the weekend. Honestly, I've met people I'd be honored to call my honorary relatives. Pouring wine allows you to interact with cultured, funny, intelligent and wonderful people who all have one thing in common: they love wine. I've met NASA astrophysicists, POTUS advisors, current and ex-movie stars, you name it. But also just retired couples, newlyweds, "just-turned-21" youngsters (to me) who are anxious to really learn about how to taste wine, and oenophiles of every social class and occupation.
But in my time behind the bar I've also met people who I was less than thrilled to meet, but who I had to smile and serve wine to, nonetheless: There was The Russian, a repeat customer who constantly asked for re-visits on the wine, complained about the portions he was poured, claimed he was owed discounts and freebies no one promised him, and who treated service staff like serfs. There were the parents who brought their children with them when they went to winery after winery and didn't look after them. There were drunks who broke things, caused scenes, tried to crash weddings going on on-site, or attempted public sex in some pretty public places.
But thankfully, those bad experiences were very, very much in the minority and were mostly things we could all laugh about once the doors closed and it was just staff and a half-finished bottle of Cabernet going around as we swapped tales of the day.
One of the things about providing great service though is to always ensure your smile is genuine; in other words you should never burn out, and after three years and increasingly busy customer counts, it's time for me to hand over the bottle to someone else before I do, in fact, burn out. It would happen. I've always believed it was a smart person in life who knew when to change lanes or get off the damn freeway completely when it was time to do so, and who turned the steering wheel without fear. Before someone asks you to, or you are desperate to change. Make the change before you hit that point, if you can, I say.
|My new office.|
My new job has several distinct advantages: I can set my own hours, including during summer when I'll try and be home before the heat sets in. I can take breaks when needed, or just stop and visit with a coworker without fear of neglecting a customer awaiting their next pour of wine. I still get to work in a happy work place with happy coworkers. And I'm outdoors on the best days -- the cool, sunny, breezy ones, and at home with a good book when it rains or when it's 105 degrees.
My shifts will also be a bit shorter, but more often, which will allow me to dovetail my own homesteading activities with work a lot more, which will help around here a lot.
But of course there will be the challenge of growing a beautiful and also a productive garden, meeting the needs of our kitchen staff and chef while also making the garden a place that beckons you to walk around and visit.
At this point, I'm just turning the wheel and hoping for the best.