Working during the Holidays

This is one of two annual End of Year posts before we head out on vacation. Enjoy

We find ourselves at the end of another year and with it the always stressful Holiday season. Shopping, cooking, relatives…and work. While much of the world gets to relax, many people – especially those in retail or the service industry – have to work. It is not fun, but as I explain in the post below, it is a fact of life. Is this a re-post? Yes. Why? Because every year someone – maybe even me – is going to complain about working.

So, here goes:

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with individuals of high integrity, strong work ethic, and exceptional character. I have also had the displeasure of working with slackers, layabouts, whiners, and the occasional ne’er do well. (I will now brush off my own shoulder for the use of such descriptive words…thank you.) When you work the field of security, there are many realities that you have to learn to face – or at least should – at an early stage of your career. The main one is this:

YOU MAY HAVE TO WORK WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK!

As a matter of fact, you will probably have to work EXACTLY when you have something else to do! Security is a profession in which your skill set is in demand ALL THE TIME. When most people are doing something else, you are working. Period. This is especially true during the Holiday Season. During the month of December, there are parties, events, parties, and events…and did I mention parties? They will fall on every conceivable day of the week, but usually on weekends. And definitely on the days that you were expecting to do your Xmas shopping. Or that your grandmother is coming to visit. Or on your “day off”.

First, let me clarify that I am not complaining about working wherever, whenever. It’s my job, I do it. Period. Have I missed out on fun, celebrations, vacations, and holidays due to work? Yes. Will I complain? Possibly. Will I work again if asked? Yes.

EVERY. TIME.

Why?

BECAUSE IT IS MY JOB.

Whenever December rolls around, there WILL be events. And there is a good chance that Security will be needed to work them. Remember, people need to be safe 24/7/365. This is especially true during the Holiday Season when people are known to get a little “loose” at parties or stressed while shopping. And yet, as soon as Staffers start getting scheduled to work, the whining begins:

“Why do I have to work again this year?”

“Bob always gets New Year’s off!”

“But I have a work party to attend!”

Let me break it down for you a little:

Do you want a job or do you want convenience?

Sometimes your job makes your life inconvenient. You aren’t paid to set your own schedule, someone else pays you to work THEIR SCHEDULE. And there is no convenience during the Holiday Season, especially in the service industry. Don’t like things that way? Start your own business. Actually, don’t. Because when you work for yourself, you work ALL THE TIME…especially during the holidays.

If you want time off for the holidays, ask for it in advance.

Way in advance. Like a month in advance. And remind your manager every week until the time you get off. Why? It’s responsible, mature, and shows initiative. Remember, everyone will want the month of December off. Also, you should realize that there is a good chance that you will NOT get Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s off, even if you ask. If you’re lucky, you might get 1 out of the 3. And in reality, if you’re lucky you’ll be asked to work all three because your skill set is in demand.

Sometimes, in life, we have to do things we don’t want to do.

Sorry, that’s just the way it is. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes you eat the bear … and sometimes the bear eats you”. Sometimes you have to work on your birthday. Or your wife’s birthday. Or your boss’ birthday. Or on Xmas eve. Or New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day. If your free time is more important than your job, especially when your job entails random hours and unpredictable situations…you should find another job.

Take one for the team.

No one else can/will/wants to work? Maybe you should step up and show the boss that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be part of the team. I guarantee that if you volunteer to work over the Holiday Season you will get to witness your employer looking simultaneously confused, excited…and impressed.

On the flip side, you can’t act like a whiny baby if you get scheduled to work, you haven’t asked for the time off, and it’s your job to keep people safe. The only thing that acting like that will guarantee is someone else doing your job…once you are fired for not doing it yourself.

So prepare yourself for the Holiday Season. It will be hectic and it will be tiring. The hours will be long, the parties ridiculous, and the lines even worse. Smile, take deep breaths, and remain patient, even when you have to escort drunken Santa out of a bar full of people. But then again, if you didn’t like a challenge, you probably would have chosen another profession…right?

Don’t (Let Them) Drink and Drive

1467450_10102866756713397_1893859367_nOn Thursday, December 7th, 2013, a young bartender by the name of Mallory Rae Dies was crossing the street. She was struck by a driver who fled the scene. He was apprehended a few blocks away after crashing his car into a tree. Mallory was taken to the hospital.

On Wednesday, December 11th, 2013, Mallory Rae Dies succumbed to the injuries that she sustained in the accident. She was 27 years old.

When the driver of the vehicle was apprehended, his blood alcohol level was .17 – twice the legal limit for the state of California. This was his third DUI offense.

REALITY

The reality is that bars and nightclubs thrive on people having a good time. The reality is that some of these people will get drunk. The reality is that some of these people will have too much to drink. The reality is that a percentage of these people – both slightly buzzed and heavily intoxicated – will get into vehicles and drive. The tragic reality is that a percentage of these drivers will injure, maim, or kill someone else.

Does this mean that bar, restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs should stop serving alcohol?

No.

But the reality is that keeping your Patrons safe and trying to keep them from driving drunk or getting into trouble is something that should be emphasized as much as possible.

LEGAL LIABILITY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Most businesses want to reduced their liability as much as possible. In the litigious world we live in, you can be sued for almost anything. Slips, falls, fights, injuries – you name it, your establishment can be sued for it. As such, businesses like mine are called to help reduce the liabilities and keep businesses like yours in business. When it comes to over-intoxication and drunk driving, many states are now enacting laws that state, “Social hosts and business establishments may be held statutorily liable for the actions of a drunk driver according to the law in the jurisdiction where the accident took place.”

What does this mean? In short, your establishment can be sued for the damage that an intoxicated individual causes. I can already see business owners sweating and fretting over “yet another thing I have to worry about”. Well, at the risk of sounding a bit callous, maybe this is something you should really be thinking about and not just for the simple reason that you “might get sued”.

Regardless of your legal liability, I think it is important that we look at how we handle the issues of over-intoxication and drunk driving as SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES. I want your Patrons to have fun. You want your Patrons to drink. Everyone wants to have a good time. But we owe it to each other as human beings to look out for one another. And we must realize that sometimes that means extending yourself beyond the reach of the Front Door of your establishment.

HOW CAN MY STAFF AND I BE MORE RESPONSIBLE?

First and foremost, every individual on your Staff should undergo some type of Alcohol Awareness Training. In some states and countries this is mandatory and in my opinion it should be that way everywhere. Your Staff might grumble and gripe, but invariably seminar attendees walk out with useful information and many times learn things that they did not know before.

Teach your Staffers to be aware of levels of intoxication and know how to spot Intoxicated Individuals. Make sure that they know how to deal with over-intoxication and mitigate its effects. Tell your Staff to communicate any issues with possible over-intoxication. That means that EVERY member of your team – from Management to Busboys – be on the lookout for issues and be willing to speak up if they spot a problem. Servers and bartenders should know that they ALWAYS have the power to stop serving alcohol if they believe an individual has had too much to drink.

Anyone working the Front Door should be assessing both arriving and departing Patrons for their intoxication levels. Refuse entry to those too drunk to enter and ALWAYS offer assistance to those leaving intoxicated. Call taxis (and pay for them!), offer to call the Patrons’ friends, flag down a Police Officer – just make sure that you are not letting someone stumble off into the night with no idea of what will happen to them. These aren’t just Patrons, they are someone’s sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, mother, or father. I would hope that someone would look out for my loved ones if they were in trouble. And I would be eternally grateful if I found out that an employee from your bar was the one who helped to keep them safe.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

Finally, if you are going to enforce rules at your bar, make sure you enforce them at your parties, at your friend’s parties, and when you are out on the town. Offer your fellow human beings assistance and let’s make sure that we all get home to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones. The few moments that you spend getting someone (maybe yourself!) into a cab or calling their roommate to come pick them up could literally save a life. Sometimes a little inconvenience on your part can save a lifetime of tragedy.

Stay safe. Keep each other safe. We’ll all be better off for it.

Until next time…