ONCE A CHIEF, ALWAYS ON SHIFT

By Manolis

You’ve seen them, I’ve seen them, we’ve all seen them. They are incredibly hard to miss, especially during Introweek. Echoing ‘Bar-, Bartenders Weekend; the weekend of beer!’ from across the committee market, ready to serve you a (small or large?) beer, is the ever (not) so elusive Chief group!  Whoa, such a large collection of beautiful people, no wonder they seem so cool; they even have awesome colourful chief shirts with their names on them (three Jips? Wow!). Wait, what do you mean there’s more to them than just being drunk?

Indeed, as much as the chiefs pursue it, there is far more to the role than constant collective intoxication. They are the elite group of people charged with the great power of operating the UCSA College Bar. With great power, comes great responsibility. In addition to setting up the bar every night, operating and managing nights of diverse customer turn-out (from the standard wake-up Monday’s and insane Thursday graveyard shifts to the rare primal fraternity beer slip-‘n’-slides) and figuring out each night’s financial accounting, they are also fully responsible for the training and mentoring of volunteering bartenders and potential future chiefs. After all, they are completely responsible for anything that happens in the UCSA Bar while they are on shift and need to be prepared for any scenario (e.g. when a drunk customer urinates behind the DJ booth, burns a flag on the dance floor, or runs away with a bar sign). Similarly, physical confrontations are not unusual. Therefore a chief must  be alert and able with the first-aid kit and have security on speed dial (especially when, for instance, you just avoided an enraged customer’s punch and it hit another chief instead).

On the top of the ladder is the board of the Bar Committee: Menno (Chair), Morgan (Secretary), Gilian (Treasurer), Inky (Human Relations), Lutzen (Public Relations), Florian (Building Manager) and Luc (Inventory). All chiefs themselves, they have been entrusted by the previous year’s board members with the greater responsibilities of running the College Bar as an organisation. One may join BarCo as a volunteer bartender by training at Bartenders’ Weekend or a semesterly workshop. The chief group then elects promising volunteers as potential chiefs, who undergo chief training and evaluation. Finally, the BarCo board members are selected from the pool of existing chiefs.

Chiefs are a social collective in which relationships are born through the group dynamic, monitored and driven by the (master) Chief of chiefs (currently the role of Wouter). Most admit that they did not know what to expect when elected chiefs, but found a strong mutual support and respect among each other in their roles. Even when not on shift, chiefs visiting the bar as customers remain vigilant and resourceful, always ready to support the chiefs on duty (you cannot and will not avoid the ice-pitcher if it is coming your way). It is clear that they take their responsibilities in maintaining the peace in the Bar very seriously, especially when testing the new chiefs during the review shifts. This is aptly summarized by their motto: ‘once a chief, always on shift’.

So, next time you are impatiently yelling your order for a beer, sipping on a graceful gin & tonic, requesting your favourite guilty pleasure song, entering a clean dancefloor on a Friday, sweating to play pool, buying your Desperados 3-pack at a UCU festival, or asking to go outside to ‘get some air’ on a Thursday party night: remember that a collection of chiefs is making all of this possible, completely voluntarily. If you happen to run into one of the 25 chiefs on-campus (or 5 on exchange), do give them a hug of gratitude!

My thank-you’s to all the chief alumni that were willing to recollect some of their Bar experiences with me; Sandra, Jip, Josje, and Alba, your unapologetic energy, enthusiasm, and unforgettable (insane) adventures are sorely missed!   

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