Pub Life: The Ropes

A pint of beer against pink.

The Trainee looks the part with a fine quiff and a crisp cotton shirt, but hovers over the Manager’s shoulder like a scared child.

Spot­ting cus­tomers wait­ing at the bar the Man­ag­er urges him for­ward.

Uh, hi. What can I get you?”

The Man­ag­er, under his breath: “Good. Yes.”

Hel­lo. A pint of Best, please, and a bot­tle of cider.”

A pan­icked glance at the Man­ag­er.

Mid­dle pump.”

This one?”

The first flick­er of impa­tience. “Yes. The mid­dle pump.”

The Trainee finds a suit­able glass and checks it with the Man­ag­er who nods, pleased – now we’re get­ting some­where. The Trainee puts the glass beneath the tap and yanks the han­dle as if try­ing to inflate a foot­ball.

Whoah! Stop! Now, gen­tly. Two or three long, smooth pulls.”

Sec­ond try: too gen­tle; the han­dle bare­ly moves.

Long, smooth pulls. Be firm. Yes, that’s it – good. You’re get­ting it. Perf– Oh, no, a bit more vig­or­ous at the end or you’ll get no head. And you have to fill it to the top.”

The Trainee looks baf­fled and a look of despair pass­es over the manager’s face. Has the boy ever drunk, or even seen, a pint of beer? The Man­ag­er mas­ters him­self.

It’s OK, I’ll sort the pint. You get the cider.”

The Trainee finds the bot­tle in the fridge and stands dumb­ly, unsure what to do next and afraid to ask the Man­ag­er for help. The Man­ag­er notices and says, “Open­er, back shelf.” The Trainee finds it, a straight­for­ward blade-style gad­get, and places it against the lid of the bot­tle in var­i­ous dif­fer­ent ways, hop­ing that the trick will make itself known.

The Man­ag­er places the improved pint on the bar, turns and takes the open­er, appar­ent­ly now resigned to the fact that the youth knows noth­ing. “Like this.” Pop, psst, and the chime of met­al as the cap flies into a bin.

The Man­ag­er fin­ish­es Cus­tomer One’s busi­ness and directs the Trainee to some­one new at the bar, who says:

Hi – could I have a taster of the gold­en ale, please?”

Trainee checks; man­ag­er nods; Trainee, sud­den­ly over-con­fi­dent, grabs a pint glass and fills it halfway with one long, smooth pull.

The Man­ag­er turns pale at the sight of his mar­gin evap­o­rat­ing.

Whoah! Use a lit­tle glass for tasters. A tiny glass. The small­est glass. Like this.”

The Man­ag­er presents some­thing about the size of a thim­ble.

The Trainee stands with the half-full pint glass and lets his shoul­ders slump.

Just six more hours to go on this shift, and then the whole sum­mer ahead.

2 thoughts on “Pub Life: The Ropes”

  1. That’s why its best to have an induction/training peri­od when the premis­es are closed so that basic tasks can be taught in a stress free man­ner for all con­cerned

  2. Pulling a pint cor­rect­ly isn’t hard, but there is a tech­nique to it. It seems rather sil­ly not run through the obvi­ous tasks asso­ci­at­ed with the job before open­ing time. If I worked in a pub, I think it’s the till that would throw me – we don’t have them in any beer fes­ti­val I’ve worked at.

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