A Dog’s Life

You may recall, in 2009, I started working behind the bar on a semi-regular basis. Guest bartending at Alembic Bar once a month for our Savoy Cocktail Book nights, and occasionally working at Heaven’s Dog, either as a fill in bartender or on Sunday nights.

As the end of 2011 approached, some regular bartending shifts at Heaven’s Dog opened up, and I talked to the bar manager about covering them.

I could either pass on the opportunity, or take a chance on finding out what it was like to work more nights a week as a bartender.

So, in November and December, in addition to my full time job at UCSF and Savoy Nights at Alembic, I started working three nights a week at Heaven’s Dog, going straight from one job to the other.

On one hand, this was a crazy amount to work, basically 9AM until Midnight 3 nights a week, but on the other, even Mrs. Flannestad noticed that I seemed to be “happier”, if tired-er. Well, not to mention, in the food service world, these aren’t even crazy hours; many of the cooks, barbacks, and dishwashers in the restaurant easily bested me for hours worked for those two months.

As December wore on, though, it was starting to get apparent that I couldn’t keep doing this indefinitely, and if I wasn’t careful, the hours were going to take a toll on my health and my relationship with Mrs. Flannestad.

In my head, I looked towards the UCSF Winter break as my finish line, and started mentioning to Mrs. Flannestad the idea of doing one thing or the other, but especially bartending.

I’ve done lots of different things in my life. I’ve worked as a line cook, I’ve delivered coffee, I worked as a janitor, worked as a dish washer, tested video games, maintained computers, etc. For over the last 15 years, I’ve worked in the Information Technology field, which is a long time for any job in my life. Maybe it was time to try something different. Find inspiration elsewhere.

I have always loved food and drink, maybe that was the way to go.

We came to a decision, and I gave notice at UCSF, my last day would be the last day before the Winter Break.

Visit family for the holiday, come back, maybe work part time for a month or two while I regroup and gather my thoughts, but hopefully make a living in restaurants once again.

Of course, nothing is quite that simple, when I gave notice at UCSF, they countered with an offer to stay on temporarily at half time in the New Year.

As I hadn’t yet organized full time hours as a bartender, it seemed like a safe bet to take.

That’s where I am now, I’ve completed my first month as a part time tech worker and part time bartender.

As far as I can tell, I’ve got a couple more months of this, feet in both worlds, before I absolutely have to start looking for new opportunities, but I’m excited. A new year, a new start, interesting new challenges.

As Mrs. Flannestad said to me, “This is the first time, in a long time, that I can remember you actually being excited about a job.”

Here’s to interesting times!

18 thoughts on “A Dog’s Life

  1. This is excellent inspiration. I struggle with doing something I love versus doing what pays well. Nice to hear that is possible to quit your day job!

  2. I couldn’t be more excited for you, Erik! Your talent behind the bar is unquestionable and I am impressed that you are going for it. You are an inspiration to cocktail nerds in cubicles everywhere.

  3. Nice one, Erik! If you are feeling the excitement, it must be the right choice. Definitely inspiring, as is your devotion to blogging.

  4. Congratulations Erik! To echo others’ sentiments, it’s inspiring to see that your hard work and steady pursuit of your passion is paying off. Meghan and I will have to stop by Heaven’s Dog more often to say hi!

  5. Congrats Erik! I watched your Crazylandia posts with great interest as I was pondering my own jump back into the restaurant industry after a long absence. I left academia back in the fall and couldn’t be happier (though, sure, I am a bit tired-er). Best of luck going forward, and hopefully I’ll be find myself in a stool across the bar from you one day.

  6. Congrats to you but more so to Mrs Flannestad for being supportive. That can be hard to find! Looking forward to seeing where you land.

  7. You lucky so and so! As jelous as I am, I can only congratulate youand hope that someday I’ll find myself in a similar situation.

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