3 Wisdoms From A Bartender’s Experiences In Night Life That Encouraged Me Unexpectedly

#01 — the person you owe an apology to the most is yourself

6 min readFeb 26, 2024
Photo by Chino Rocha on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Names* changed to protect the identity of the person.

I know Jace* from my freelance gigs. She has low education and is not shy about it.

She is older than me, yet she is very hardworking person as a part timer.

At 48, she’s still actively a go-getter and full of energy. She has back pain like I do. But she still sweeps without acting a meek princess.

I find 3 wisdoms from her bartending experience. It all begins with asking:

Jace*…What makes you choose to work in F&B industry especially as Bartender?”

It is very compelling for me to write them so that I will remember lest I forget.

Let’s read…

01 —Learn to say ‘no’ from young so that when you are older, it is easy for you…

Jace* is not even a decade for an age difference from me. I know how night life is like for her in her past 20s.

I read news about fights in the bar. The trend back then? — Bodyguards, bartenders, and bouncers.

Most drunk people are the Eurasians or whom the Chinese refer to as ang moh.

When I look to my past, I am proud of myself. Because if you know what night life was like back then, you got to be very strong…That night life has made me a strong person,” said Jace*

I can see the look on her face reminiscing those days.

Imagine your colleagues smoking drugs next to you? Imagine going to the toilet and you see someone sniffing the powder? All these used to happen in night life at the bar…” said Jace*

I listen intently.

…But my colleagues know I don’t do drugs. They respect that. I only like to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol…” she said.

Bartenders now are more of a civilized role in a civilized environment. If you are in my country, you will see police commandos on regular patrol.

And with many educated people now, drinking is another level of profession. You make a ruckus of yourself, and your profession is gone. Your dignity is gone.

…Night life means you got to be strong. Imagine one of the regulars having sex in front of me while I was eating Maggie mee (instant noodle)?…” said Jace*

Wow. I can’t imagine it.

I can’t sleep at night and that’s one of the reasons for being a Bartender. Nightlife. But the job makes me a strong person. There are so many people taking drugs and I do not conform just to fit in…That is the most important part,” she said.

Just to fit in…That words linger in my ears…

The power of being different, despite a social misfit is her superpower.

You need to learn to say ‘no’ since young, so that when you grow older you will not feel compelled or bad about rejecting others and being rejected…” said Jace*.

That is a powerful lesson I hear from Jace*. Because when you keep saying yes to everything or everyone, somehow you will not be happy.

02— The person you owe an apology to the most is yourself…

“… Let me ask you a question. In life, everyone will owe an apology to someone the most. Who do you think you owe an apology to the most?” asked Jace*

I am expecting the answer to be ‘our parents’ or better still, ‘our God’. Boy, to my disbelief I am so wrong.

“The person you owe an apology to the most is yourself, my dear!” said Jace*.

She said it with a big smile.

Yes, it going to be me…myself…Why should I keep doing things I do not like or have no interest in…I am making myself unhappy, right? I owe myself a big apology. Not to my parents or God…,” she said.

Our conversation leads to this description of Singaporean parents who think working in F&B industry is only for the lower education or retirees.

And they are adamant that success is only when you are sitting in the office in business suits or carrying the roles of managers.

My dad wasn’t keen on my nightlife, but he did tell me to return to a normal life one day. That day when I lost him I decided it was time to switch to a normal life. Because I only have my mom left...” said Jace*

I think fathers are the best man of many daughters.

“My dad didn’t reject me as a bartender, but he told me to promise him on two conditions— stay away from drugs and crime…” said Jace*

She really has a long list of wonderful experiences and I feel that she has been living the most of her life.

Jace, I do enjoy serving in restaurants too…Just perhaps, it is not really what I am excited about when I am dragging myself out of the bed most days lately…We end work too late and begin early…,” I spoke.

We have ample time talking about the pros and cons in an office job versus being a service crew in the restaurants. We do know there are good and bad in all jobs.

My dear…do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, you are the only one who have to apologize to yourself for not doing anything that makes you happy,” said Jace*

Yes. She is right. The person we owe the biggest apology is to ourselves.

And I do not feel any happier working in an environment which does not have fair distribution of work.

03 — Learn to ignore or get use to rumors

I am really proud of myself for being a bartender in the past. Because that makes me strong. I learn to be strong. I learn to say no. I learn to ignore or rather, get used to hearing rumors…These 3 things are very important...” said Jace*.

She speaks from her heart.

These days the younger generations easily give up their life to suicide…and you see a lot of rising case of mental illness…Learn. Learn to ignore rumors or get used to it…All the more when you become a manager, you need to be brave to reprimand people too…” said Jace*

I remember an ex-colleague whom many people think of him as someone having pre-marital sex whenever he travels.

When people start asking him about it, he simply say, “… If you think I have sex with others, then yes. If you think I do not conduct myself in such manner, you are right too. It’s all up to you what you want to think of me”.


Well, Jace*…I think, it isn’t about being daring to scold only when you are managers. I don’t see it as a rank. I see that when we first put a firm boundary to everyone, they will start knowing their limits,” I said.

I have been to several restaurants and cafes, besides the former French restaurant on the hillside. I have been observing dynamics and topics of conversations.

It is pretty much the same that people will always have something to comment about someone else, even reporting the smallest thing ever.

I have a freelance colleague who will grumble regretting taking up the gig. She wants more money but easily regret doing full shift.

Yesterday, I passed by the bar area with dirty glasses during an event. I overheard her informing the manager about me. Because minutes before I stern off a guy who tried to push his duties to me.

While the Chinese colleague thought she was self-entitled to grumble about her regrets behind the managers, she enjoyed reporting others to the managers too. That proved what type of person she was.

Friendly, but two-faced.

I walked away busied with clearing plates and looking out for tables to fire their next course of meal. The manager asked if I was okay.

Two days later, she laughed at how a new guy folded the napkins for our evening wedding dinner.

There will always be something that someone will pick about and make a topic out of it. There will always be those who like to make a laughingstock of someone else.

I wish that the managers will not entertain them even if it is from those, they get along well or their favorite line of crews.

“Get use to rumors, otherwise learn to ignore them,” said Jace* again.

These comes from Jace’s own experiences. It doesn’t come from whose so-and-so ancestors say, passing down from generation to generation by words.

Her experience makes it more valuable in my eyes. I hope you find some values reading the reminders she shares generously.






Author who wrote about Life in Yemen | Writer on Medium with Random Topics | Catholic by Faith