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Hog-Tied In The Back Of A Squadie

I wanted to write a blog about the last two weeks at Keys On Main. There has been fights, nursing conventions, incredible tips, huge douche-bags, a man hog-tied in the back of a squadie after getting pepper sprayed and Westminster College kicking my butt. Unfortunately, real life has gotten in the way. For the last ten years I have always referred to myself as a bartender but even while I owned The Woodshed, I was forced to get a second job to make ends meet. I started working at ARUP Laboratories up at Research Park two years ago. The Woodshed was doing well but my bottom line wasn’t. The Shed paid for itself — just not me and my family. So, I became a specimen processor. At first it was fun. Unless you’re a germaphobe, handling blood, stool, urine and semen samples (or as I like to call it, my underwear) is fun. The benefits are great and the company has a great reputation throughout the nation. They are the number one medical reference lab in the country and working at ARUP has a high level of distinction.

The only problem with the work is that I hate it.

I hate being stuck in a chair for eight straight hours. I hate working in the medical field. I learned to hate handling poop and pee. It’s gross and the work is monotonous. I was promoted to a special projects manager a year ago and initially it was a good position. I help set policy throughout the company and worked on a variety of exciting projects. With changes in the company, I have been recently had my hand forced to go back to processing. Nuts. To add insult to injury, I have to go back through four weeks of training because I have completely forgotten how to process samples. So, for a job that I dislike, I have a month of retraining so I can go back on the floor to a job that I don’t like.

When people ask me why I enjoy bartending, I always say that it is better than my day job. But the reality is that bartending is my real job and ARUP is my second job. I work at ARUP for the medical benefits. I recognize that I am not the model of good health (I am prone to infections and high blood pressure) and it is silly not to have coverage. Furthermore, I cover my family by working at ARUP. When I am behind the bar, no matter how busy we are and how out-of-control the night is going, I always have a feeling of control of the situation and am ready to answer anything that is thrown at me. ARUP is corporate America and I am a square peg in a round hole. It is very difficult to continue showing up to a job that I dislike but I know how important the benefits are to me and my family. It’s become a real conundrum.

So, two things are going to happen: one, I am going back to training and will be stretching myself thin trying to do both ARUP and Keys On Main. Two, find another job. I am actively looking for a new position but this is a really tough market. I am one of the lucky ones out there that actually has two jobs. We meet our bills and live a pretty God damn good life. It is just really hard to continue working at ARUP and maintaining my composure. The fact that I have worked in the medical field for over two years is beyond me. My personality is made for dirty jokes and pouring Manhattans and draft beers.

With that said, a couple of things are going to suffer. One will be attending boxing classes at Fight For Your Life. I have been going to boxing for the last three months and feel great. Boxing has been one of the best activities I have ever done. I’ve lost almost 25 pounds and the training is fantastic. Boxing is nothing but a bunch of push-ups and crunches but working with a trainer gives you really good results. The problem is that with my new schedule, I will not be able to meet any of the classes except Sundays. I have been going three to four times a week and I am going to miss attending the classes. You never feel more like a bad-ass than when striking a heavy bag, skipping rope or doing the circuit training.

The second thing that is going to go is writing this blog. The time I dedicate to writing “Behind The Bar” is immense and difficult. I really enjoy writing and telling stories about life as a Salt Lake City bartender but the time divided between my family and work leaves me with little time to write the blog. I have always fancied myself a writer but it is not easy for me. It is hard to develop stories that have a narrative and point of view. Admittedly, a lot of the blogs are just talking about the knuckle-heads that I get drunk every week, their trashy wives and the problem with Utah liquor laws but it is still hard to get one out every week with the time that I have. I have been talking with someone about developing a dedicated web-site for my experiences, bartending techniques and drink recipes but that will be placed on hold until I can figure out the ARUP 400 pound gorilla.

I think there is a teachable moment to this experience: find what you love to do and follow through with it with all of your energies. My passions is my family, bartending and writing. Taking care of home trumps any other responsibilities and that means making sacrifices. But taking care of my family isn’t a burden — it’s a responsibility that I love meeting and hopefully, exceeding. I always try to under-promise and over-deliver and I hope in the very near future I can come back to the other things that I love.

So, in the meantime, I’m off to ARUP to re-learn the difference between plasma and serum. It reminds me of the story of the guy who walks into a bar with a briefcase. He opens up the briefcase and there is a ten inch tall man playing a miniature piano. The bartender pours him a beer and asks him where did he get the little musician. The guy produces a magic lamp and tells the bartender that all he has to do is rub the lamp and make a wish. The bartender eagerly rubs the lamp and starts wishing for a million bucks. In a flash, the bar is filled with a million squawking ducks! The bartender yells where the hell is his money and the guy tells him, “Yeah, liked I asked for a ten inch pianist.”

I’ll be back to writing in a bit. Thanks for reading.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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