What to Expect #4: Did He Just Call Me That?

Barley Labs Dog friendly Bar Durham Beer Grain Dog Treats

We're hiring! I can't tell you just how excited we are to post the two bartender positions we have available.

If you're interested in joining us, we wanted to share with you what you can expect as a pack member of Barley Labs and how one personal story in particular shapes our philosophy with regard to how we treat employees.

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"PINK!" That's not what he yelled at me. He called me something that rhymes with "pink" but is not nearly as pretty of a word. 

I was 20 or 21 years old and working as a server at a pub in Ohio. During the day, we mostly had customers eating meals and maybe having a drink or two. After around 8 p.m., it turned into much more of a "bar" atmosphere. For the most part, my experience serving there was positive. The staff and managers were nice, I made GREAT money, and I learned a lot about dealing with customers -- both good and bad. 

The night I mentioned earlier was like any other busy weekend night. The place was packed, and most of the evening was a blur because I was hustling to make sure everyone in my section had a drink in hand. Suddenly, I was snapped out of that hyper-focused-server-mode when the guy yelled at me. I stopped. I stood frozen for a few seconds and then decided to assume I must have heard wrong. As I started to walk away, he yelled again. "PINK!" And now, I knew I wasn't hearing him incorrectly. The guy was hurling a racial slur at the Chinese girl serving him drinks. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't tend to shy away from confrontation. So I turned around, and I asked him if he had something he wanted to say to my face. Surrounded by his chuckling buddies, he said, "Who, me? Nope." So I turned around, and he yelled it again.

This wasn't the first time I had been called names because of the shape of my eyes. After years of it, you just brush it off and know it's not worth wasting the energy worrying about it or trying to reason with someone who is clearly unreasonable. But for some reason, I was demolished in this moment (to this day I still am not sure why it hit me the way it did). I walked back to the kitchen, stood over the sink, and cried. I'm pretty sure I was more mortified at my own reaction than anything else. I didn't want to tell my manager because I was embarrassed that I wasn't strong enough to ignore it. I also didn't want to tell him because the guy who was yelling -- he wasn't just any guy. He was a member of the minor league baseball team in town, a team that frequented our bar and spent oodles of money there. 

I was doing my best to calm myself down so I could go back out and do my job, and suddenly the line cook was standing next to me. He asked if I was ok. He asked if there was anything he could do. This kindness just made me cry harder (ugh, I really hate crying in public). I didn't realize it, but he quietly walked away and got my manager who came back and gently demanded to know what happened. After I told him everything, he stood there for a moment and just stared at me with both compassion and rage in his eyes. He then grabbed a ladle from the wall and said, "Come with me." 

My manager walked me out to the dining room and asked me to point out who the guy was. I told him it was one of the guys on the baseball team and pointed him out. He walked straight up to the guy and pointed the ladle at his chin. 

Manager: "Do you have something you want to say to her?"

Guy (clearly shocked): "What? I don't know what you're talking about."

Manager: (Points ladle at his chin) "Do YOU have something to say to HER." (Points ladle at me.)

Guy: "Look, man. I don't know what she told you, but..."

Manager: You need to leave now. Right now.

The guy of course said something to the effect of, "Don't you know who I am..." and "If I go, the rest of the team comes with me..." None of that deterred my manager. He wanted the guy gone. 

After the guy and just a few of his buddies left (the rest of the team stayed), my manager pulled me into his office and told me something that has stuck with me ever since.

"Yes, we expect you to treat these people like they're guests in our home. But they are just that -- guests. While we do everything to make them feel welcome and well taken care of, that doesn't mean they get to disrespect us in our house. When that happens, the guest has to leave. When things like this happen, you have to tell me."

I tell you this very long story, not because I want you to feel badly for me (my experiences are on the lower end of the spectrum of awful workplace scenarios). I told this story to help you -- future Barley Labs Pack Members -- understand that I know what it feels like to quiet yourself because you think it would be better to keep your mouth shut when you feel disrespected, harassed, or threatened. This was just the first in many instances at work where I kept quiet after feeling violated (Hello there, Mr. Executive. That's super neat that you think it's ok to put your hand on my thigh. Allow me to quietly let you know that it's not by just swiveling my chair away and continuing with our conversation.). The truth is, if it weren't for the line cook, I would've just let it go and never told my manager. 

This experience helped shaped my view of how a manager is supposed to act. If you're one of our employees, Scott and I want you to tell us whenever you have any kind of issues, no matter how "small" or "insignificant" you think they are, whether it stems from a fellow co-worker or a guest. And we will do our best to create the kind of environment where it's not that we just tell you that it's ok to speak up. We want you to feel that it's more than ok -- that it's your right. 

Additionally, we are brand new to this whole managing a retail/beer shop thing. Yes, I've had experience pouring and serving beers in the past, but this is going to be a whole new ballgame for us. We will make mistakes. However, we are the type of people who learn quickly and do our best not to make those same mistakes again. We also will take your feedback on what you think is working and what isn't. 

I'm not going to lie -- the positions we have open are going to consist of a lot of hard work and flexibility. The people who join our pack will need to be willing to do a very wide range of tasks outside of pouring beer for guests. However in the midst of all that work, please know that Scott and I will do our best to make Barley Labs a place where you also have a lot of fun, learn and grow as an employee, and feel like you're making a valuable contribution to our company. If you're interested, please read our job description and fill out our online application.

We can't wait to start working with you.


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