From Teacher To Bartender.

I received an email from an x student of mine. He was one of my better students despite the fact that he often showed up to class high and rarely did his homework. He often said that when he was in class he gathered knowledge through a process of osmosis. When he was not in class he was no longer interested in school- he just wanted to live out his youth free from institutional expectations. I respected this. This is the email I received from him today: “Hey dude, how’s life? I hope everything is cool cause the word around town/school is that you are now working as a bartender? WTF! That is cool and all but how did you go from the best English Teacher ever to a bartender? Is everything cool? Just curious. Shoot me back when you have a chance. Peace.”

I thought about the email for a bit. How would I respond? I was not at all bothered that the school community in which I taught all now know that I am a bartender. Bartending is a noble and age-old job that has it’s value just as teaching does. What concerns me is that my school community might assume that I took a step down, that I was visited by difficult circumstances and forced to take a job as a bartender. Education in California is in an almost apocalyptic state and many parents and students may assume that I am victim of this apocalypse. What I am trying to say is that I do not want others to worry about me. I made the choice to no longer work as a teacher. I made the choice to return to my bartending ways.

So I wrote my students back this email: “Hey man, all is well. Thank you for checking in. I am bartending because I want to have my days free to write, paint, live. Teaching is a full-time job and when I did it I had very little free time. Bartending allows me to have most of my days free. It also allows for me to sleep in. As a teacher I was serving youth knowledge. Now as a bartender I am serving adults booze. Such is life.”

Hopefully he will believe me and pass along the message to those who care.


  1. for what its worth, i don’t think its a step down. its a personal step forward. sounds like you’ve got nice work/life balance and still probably an interesting audience to entertain/engage if not educate. status be damned.

  2. Ironic…I’m middle-aged and just lost my 12 year bartending job…and I’m thinking about being a substitute teacher…the money is definitely better bartending…but I’m having a difficult time finding anyone who wants to hire an “older” bartender. Honestly I would like to do a combination of both!

  3. I am a bartender, but I went to a good university to study to become an English teacher. I did my required student teaching and said to myself, I always hated school nd teachers, why would I want to work in this environment? I didn’t, and the real irony is that my husband’s ex-wife is an English teacher. (I went to the better university out of the two of us). I love my freedom, but envy their schedule. I would love to be an overpaid part-time employee with four months of paid vacation. I have to fill out paperwork 2 weeks in advance to get a Wednesday off, and have to provide medical documentation if I take a sick saying a job that doesn’t provide health insurance.

  4. As a teacher I would have been as lazy as Cameron Diaz character in “Bad Teacher”, but I am an awesome bartender. Sometimes I wish I took the lazy route though so I could have a social life, kids and a benefits package. I am pro labor union, but adamantly anti teachers’ union. No other professional work force is unionized, and I would rather see a lawyers union any day because at least they wouldn’t need a legal team, lol.

  5. Thanks for adding your two cents Renee! I suppose the grass is always greener on any other side. Even a friend of mine who is a rock star sometimes wishes he kept his job as a supermarket clerk. Life was simpler then.

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