A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882
This painting of a young woman by Manet really reminds me of the time I was working as a bartender not long after graduating.
The pub was right next to a tall office building with loads of creative agencies and marketing cooperation. Employees would come down to our little shabby pub every night after work to bitch about their bosses and judge our interior décor choice.
Our pub decoration theme was ‘trains’: with these really shitty holographic, soviet eastern-European train pictures framed in these shoddiest ornate and gilt frames, hung almost right below the cornice where no one would see them properly. Thinking about it, that was probably for the best.
Behind those “beauties”, are brown and beige wallpaper with Victorian patterns and wooden wall cladding, covering the lower half of the walls. Oh, as if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s that disproportionately huge vintage clock from olden-day train stations, that did not work. Describing the pub in one word – depressing.
It was one of those typical Friday nights when everyone would get absolutely wasted. I was just having one of those small talks with a customer whilst pouring his order. He asked what I studied at university, so I, started explaining that I have majored in Art History, but, to be honest, I have no idea what I want to do with it.
And this guy, says that he’d majored in Art History too! – what a coincidence. Apart from that, he also liked building websites, and that’s exactly what led him to have a brilliant career in advertising.
In the end, he added: ‘There IS life after Art History, don’t get discouraged, hang on there!’. That was probably the best kind of encouragement I could have got from anyone at that time, at the most unusual of places!
This made me realise that my degree wasn’t really enough for me to do what I actually want to do in life. It’s not the degree that’s wrong or bad, it’s just that I needed to learn more practical skills that would make me ‘useful’ where I want to work at.
And where I wanted to work at bar-tendering skills weren’t that necessary, so I quit that job after a week.
So, thank you, the art-history/ web-developer guy! Maybe, that depressing pub was exactly where I was supposed to be at – the rock bottom that is, so I can get up and set my priorities straight.