I worked in a bar when I was 18 in Limerick city and my first night working I got ice thrown down my t-shirt by the manager for fun and apparently it was a tradition to all new people joining. I thought the place was wild and it was. I was used to working in the Body Shop during the day as a summer job and decided I needed some extra cash before going to college. I did what another girl in the shop did and that was sign up to work nights in the bar and club in town. It was a culture shock - bear in mind only a few years earlier I had gotten sick meeting boys for the first time and also shied away approaching customers until I was shown what to do and I didn't even speak until I was three - yes - that shy! It was a massive change, there was loud music, the pub was packed to the brim with a live band playing and lots and lots of drunk people.
I started as a glass collector and, for those not from Ireland, we do not have a pfand for the glasses. You just put them down anywhere and people go around and collect them. I would stack them up above shoulder length and bring as many as I could at a time. Sometimes managing two or three stacks of pint glasses a couple of feet high. After a few nights of this I progressed onto table service which was asking people for their drinks orders at the table and bringing them to them. I was really good at this as I am not the tallest and I could weave in and out of the crowds fairly easily.
I then moved onto selling shots, working behind the bar, cloakroom and club behind the bar too. It was ideal for the summer and I worked really hard. The boss would come and run their finger along the counter of the bar to make sure there was nothing and we would scorch our hands on the boiling hot water to ensure that all the alcohol was wiped away and the counter surface was sufficiently cleaned. It was hard work and our bodies were definitely put to the limits. I worked usually until 4 or so, sometimes later and would run home (don't tell Mom!). We lived outside the city limits and it was quiet enough at that time in the morning that no one was around as all the pubs were closed about an hour earlier. It was the clean up of the toilets, bar and everything that took time to leave. We'd also (sometimes) have a staff drink at the end of the night to relax. I always wondered why I never made tips and apparently once I was told I was 'too happy' by one of the customers who used to call in regularly. I would, of course, dance to the music behind the bar and serve drinks as quickly as possible and without any waste which I was and still am very proud of that!
The summer went by fast and I was going to start college. I had been introduced to a new way of life. I loved it. I loved the music, bar people and I had fun partying sober while working all summer - or at least that's what it felt like. Limerick is small so the same people came into the bar regularly and we saw them again throughout the evening in the club upstairs. It was fun and good hard work to keep me honest for the summer before college started! I was really thankful that I could ask my coworker to come to my debs (the end of year school dance in September) because I had been tragically unsuccessful asking others and he obliged thankfully. It's another story but he's a lovely person and I was also lucky to meet him a while back and recreate our debs photo!
I came back that following Christmas to take back up my job to work Christmas (not Christmas day obviously as everywhere is closed!) and the new year. I had enjoyed working there because my first day it was like a christening into the place with the ice down my t-shirt and the lovely managers we had. They were hard but they were lovely. They reasoned with us. Long story short, they weren't there when I came back and I was upset. In fact, none of the staff remained and it was under new management again. I continued working hard and dancing behind the bar, not collecting my tips but enjoying myself, happy out dancing and pouring pints.
The following summer again the staff changed and again it was under new management. I was shocked. How could they go through so many people in such a short time. It was the largest bar outside of Dublin so there must have been at least 15 working in the bar and more upstairs in the club. I didn't ask questions and kept doing what I was told. I worked hard, didn't complain and enjoyed working there. I made friends again and every time (over the next few years) that the staff changed, I made new friends. I stayed there for a few years while in college and even to this day I still know the upper management.
When I was working in the Body Shop we had a manager that also was a bad boss. She managed to get everyone, even the people working there for 15 years or so, to quit including myself. It was a really lovely job but it was something that we all had to do. Eventually though and usually it is too late - upper management notices and once they do they get rid of the rotten apple. It usually takes several people to leave a position before that happens though as that's the only way that sends messages to upper management when something is wrong. It's unfortunate but I have seen it across several sectors now and in offices, retail and bars. I have had enough experience at this point to conclude that that is my perspective as I have several more examples.
The key now is if you find yourself under a bad boss to get out and not let that impact you. It is really hard to do and when you don't have a choice or feels like you don't have a choice because of money or bills to pay for example, then it is harder and you can convince yourself to stay longer. The real issue is that it is insidious and you can't tell when the damage is happening when it is happening. We are all fighters and want to stay in jobs that we love but at the end of the day, the facts are the facts and a high staff turnover is, unfortunately, a sign of a bad boss so get out while you can!