A Bartender’s Account Of Election Night, 2016


“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
—To Kill A Mockingbird 
Dear Friends,
Now is not the time to demonize. Now is not the time to lay blame. Now is certainly not the time to lose our resolve. We are better than that. Now is the time to try to understand.
Like many of you, last night for me was a surreal experience and continues to be such as night gave way to daybreak. I felt a collective sadness in a way I had hoped to never feel again. My heart breaks as many of us have taken an unwilling ideological step backward.
Working behind the bar, my evening started with high hopes that slowly melted into disappointment and astonishment, as I watched the results in realtime along with my patrons. As a bartender, pouring beer and mixing drinks is only part of the job. My real job is to listen and to empathize. There is a kinship and trust innate between the bartender and the bar guest, no matter the gender, race, sexual orientation, or creed.
Last night, I consoled a girl who wept on her birthday and a cab driver, who wept as he drove me home. Last night, I wanted to give everyone a hug and tell them that things are never as bad as they seem. Well friends, I will give you a hug but I refuse to tell a falsehood.
This election represented so much more than which candidate possessed more warts and blemishes. So much more than the boilerplate issues usually debated in this referendum we hold every four years. It serves as a metaphor for how we see ourselves as people. I’ve made it a goal over the past 18 months not to scold and admonish my friends who expressed support for the GOP candidate, I merely wanted to understand. To listen. To empathize. Disagreement is not akin to disrespect. Our country was founded by people who had fundamental disagreements on life and governance. To be an American is to disagree but also champion the collective good for all of us. 
The silver-lining of last night, my friends, is knowing that there is an ideological rift that divides us. Many of us see this nation as the standard bearer of progressive thought and innovation. Many of us are dissatisfied with past leadership and wanted change. All of us should want this to be a great country for all of us. That is the challenge we face and the challenge I accept. In the meantime, I offer hugs and I will continue to try to understand.