The Intangibles


in-tan-gi-ble [in-tan-juh-buhl]
1. not tangible; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch, as incorporeal or immaterial things; impalpable.
2. not definite or clear to the mind: intangible arguments.
3. (of an asset) existing only in connection with something else, as the goodwill of a business.
4. something intangible, esp. an intangible asset: Intangibles are hard to value.

The other week I was out with Robby Virus, who plays in the band Project Pimento.  We were at the Rite Spot and he asked me what I found satisfying about bartending.

Since he is a musician, I tried to think about what would be similar between being a musician and tending bar.

The more I talked, and thought, about the job, the more I realized that it seemed like there were similarities.

There’s an “oevre” you have to master. Songs for musicians and drink recipes for bartenders.

There’s a craft you learn. Playing your instrument for musicians and making drinks for bartenders.

In both jobs, you are in the public eye, performing in some fashion. Appearance, style, and looking like you know what you are doing, (even if you don’t,) are important for both jobs.

In both jobs, you do your best to prepare. Then you just put yourself out there, without knowing what the evening will have in store. An empty bar or a zoo. A crowd that appreciates your craft or hecklers.

But what is it that makes bartending satisfying? The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was the interactions with your customers. It’s about the spark, the feelings, the interaction with the room. A night that is going well has an energy all its own. I coughed, and kind of half embarrassed that I would think something so “new agey”, said to Rob, “I think it is all about the Intangibles. The relationships you have the people you are serving and the feelings you get from doing it. It has to be similar for musicians, doesn’t it?”

Before Rob could answer, our waiter, who I hadn’t even known was listening to our conversation, said, “No, you’re right. I’ve done both jobs. I’ve been a musician and a bartender. That is what makes both jobs worth doing.”