Drinking with the Bartender
I have always wanted to work a winter season on a ski resort, so when the opportunity came up to move to Switzerland as a bartender I was pretty excited and pretty ready to leave Barcelona after a summer showing tourists where to party. I was ready to tone down the insanity from my last job and considering that I had never heard of Wengen, I pictured it as a quiet, local and swissly strict village where I could relax and snowboard all winter… was I ever wrong!
If I condensed the amount of alcohol consumption during my four years of undergraduate university into four months, it would almost be equivalent to my time in Wengen (or maybe now that I am older it just seems that way!). I think that my major miscalculation of bartending came from the idea that working behind a bar meant that you are not allowed to drink. Here in Switzerland, or Europe maybe, and especially in the bar I was working it is mandatory!
I was on my home the other night and had about a ten minute walk home (from one end of town to the other). In order to get home without being sucked into a party, I had to pass the halfway mark quickly before running into someone I knew. Oddly enough, it turns out that by working in a bar, the time of day when you know the most people on the street is around midnight. Consequentially I ran into 3 people who required small talk within 500 meters and didn’t make it home for another few hours.
Some of the craziest nights haven’t been that busy at all (although a lot of them have), it can be just as dangerously wild with a few locals sitting at the bar as a full house, since people like having someone to drink with – drink for drink and shot for shot…. oh well, what else have I got to do? One Tuesday evening I came to work at 9pm to find every single shot glass dirty and just two men sitting at the bar… trying to look sober.
I am not sure if this i typical of Wengen, ski resorts or just bartending in general but it’s not just the quantity of consumption that is unbelievable, its the continuity. Compared to other ski towns I hear that Wengen is pretty slow, but if your not careful you might end up rat-arsed every day and every night.
For example, if you decide to go out for a casual drink on Wednesday and happen to meet some extra friends at the bar, you might not feel great the next day and think, “that’s okay I will just stay in tonight to save my energy for Friday” but then you remember there’s a birthday party that night so you go out for one drink… which turns into many. By this time its the weekend and your hopelessly hungover and unfortunately working at a busy bar where everyone feeds you shots for the next two days and for some reason you still try to ski in between. Then comes Sunday and you think “finally we can shut early tonight” but as soon as you start to close some ski team walks in the door and wants to party since they had to race all weekend… guess I will join then for a couple! When Monday comes around you already know that have to go out for “staff night” because drinks are cheap and everybody is there! So before you know it its Tuesday again and you have slept an average of 4 hours a night and sloppily skied 2 hours a day with a hangover… if you are strong willed you might collapse in your bed on Tuesday night…. or there’s always the option of playing poker all night with some friends until the sun comes up!
Can’t wait to go back again next year!