Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Strange Day

Today was an interesting day. I went to get my RSA (Responsible serving of Alcohol certificate). What started out as a normal six hour course, evolved into one of the most random, and pretty humorous days I can remember. Before I jump into it, I just have to say I will cover more mature subjects than I normally do, and while I try to paint a comical picture of what happened, the material is supposed to be informative, even educational. It isn’t meant to offend or disrespect.

The class consisted of myself, nine other students and an instructor named Danny. Danny was probably between 32 and 35. He teaches the class five days a week and also has been a manager at a bar in Wollongong and will soon be opening his own pub. He has a beard and the build of Seth Rogen. Actually he looked kind of like a clean cut Seth Rogen.

Seth Rogen

The class covered many topics including ways to prevent intoxication, consequences of binge drinking, effects of alcohol, types of alcohol, how to properly cut someone off, blood alcohol content and much more. It consisted of everything you would need to know to serve alcohol.

When I arrived, most of the people in the room were pretty quiet. Little did I know that by the end of the day, we’d all share a few laughs together. At this point I might as well introduce you to them.

Brett: This guy is about 19 or 20. Has all the expensive accessories that a popular kid his age would have. Prada sunglasses, new leather wallet, trendy cigarettes.

Michael: Big guy, with some native blood in him, shaved bald head. He said he was interested in doing this because he was being hired as security at a bottle shop (Liquor store). Not the brightest bulb, but a guy you’d want on your side in a fight.

Nicole: Pretty blonde, 18. She wore a black top and leopard print skirt. Her current job is a hair stylist and she wants to be a bartender over in England. Judging by her demeanor and by how much she interacted with all of us, she is one of the cool girls.

Thomas: At least 50 years old, but you can tell he’s smoked so much he definitely looks 65. Tom has one of those accents that I cannot understand. Maybe one out of every ten words I picked up. For example when asked what the legal drinking age is, Tom said, “Ay’deen.” That’s eighteen. But everything he said was usually finished off with a laugh.

Michelle: Oh Michelle. An ex vegan, but still current vegetarian. Definitely a free spirt who asked lots of questions and was responsible for keeping unnecessary conversation flowing. I think she revealed she was 29 or 30. Nice smile, fun personality to have in class, but not everyday.

Nathan: Another young guy, probably 21. Typical Aussie guy, not sure how to describe that. I guess he has the maturity of Brett. Which you’ll find out soon enough what I mean.

?: Nice Asian girl, I didn’t catch her name. She had a bit of input, is currently working the door at a club, but wants to serve drinks.

Tom Lee: Quiet Asian guy who sat in the back. He said one sentence all day.

Maxim: Another guy who didn’t speak all day. Max was definitely of eastern European descent and his English is going to be a problem I can tell.

One of the first things Danny said to us was “At the conclusion of the class, you’ll be given a 20 question test. But if you have trouble with the questions, don’t worry, I’ll give you the answers.” Well that took all tension out of the room.

The morning went smooth. Danny had a lot of good stories from working so many years in a bar. They did slowly get a little bit looser, more graphic and included more four letter swears. For example he was referring to women as chicks and “Sheila’s” which is an Australian nickname for a woman. He also recommended we take a course on what to do if we are ever in a holdup or robbery. He and Michael then both told us about the times they were held up and had a “shotty” (Shotgun) held to their head.

During all these “fun” stories, Danny would give us many drinking statistics about Australia. They are pretty horrific. In fact, a lot of the stories I heard today make me NOT want to serve drinks. There’s a term called “glassing” that has become very big here. It is where someone (most of the time women) break off the end of a beer bottle and use it as a knife on someone else. I do feel as if I’m always reading about a stabbing in Sydney. Then I remember that people don’t have guns here like in the USA. The cops and the criminals have the guns here, that's it.

Here are a couple examples of Australian drinking stats Danny gave us:
Alcohol is the second largest cause of drug-related deaths and hospitalizations in Australia (after tobacco).
Alcohol is the main cause of deaths on Australian roads. In 1998, over 2,000 deaths of the total 7,000 deaths of persons under 65 years, were related to alcohol (Ridolfo and Stevenson, 1998).

Those statistics are obviously somewhat old, but if you Google searched Australian binge drinking or Australian Alcohol related deaths, you would be supplied with list after list of numbers about people dying from alcohol related causes. Australians have a reputation for being drinkers. It is scary how true it really is.

The morning was as typical as a day at the Office.

The morning class lasted 2 and a half hours. We were given an hour lunch break, then went back for another 2 hours. At the conclusion, I realized that we could have done this whole class in 90 minutes to 2 hours tops. It wasn’t all that bad though as conversation ventured away from the course and went onto subjects like:

In Australia, not too long ago, meat pies were found to have Wombat and Possum meat in them. At one point, the companies producing the meat pies were found out and now you will find mostly beef pies. I’m not sure what wombat is, but he mentioned it was basically roadkill meat.

Danny told us he “accidentally electrocuted my mother once – Addams Family style.” I honestly can’t remember how it came up. But that sentence alone has comic value.

He explained to us about men’s urinal pucks and prostate exams that you can use in public bathrooms. There are apparently little tests you can buy in public restrooms to check the prostate. Who knew?

Other Danny quotes:
“Guitar Hero is best played when you’re smashed.”

“You need to get a job dude if you’re watching Oprah.” (Said to Brett after Brett began a sentence with "I saw the other day on Oprah..."

With lines like that, Danny had my utmost attention. I couldn’t wait to hear what else he might say.

It felt like The Breakfast Club on steroids.

One part of the course had us looking at pictures of people and guessing how old they were. The exercise taught us how hard it is to tell someone’s age and some signs that we should look for. Danny told us they were a couple years old and were taken in America, so he apologized for the fashion. Actually, all day we had some fun comparing Americans to Australians. The Aussies are fascinated with Las Vegas. Most I talk to have been there or want to go there. Of course their obsession and the world's obsession with Texas is normal. One linguistic laugh we had was when Danny spelled the word jail the way some people still do here which is "gaol." I believe that goes way back to the English spelling of the word.

Back to the photos...After going through the seven photos and guessing, he asked each of us what we guessed. Everyone gave a number, except for Tom, who every time he was asked what age he wrote down he’d say “Accepted!.” or “Denied!” as in he would or wouldn’t let them into his bar. Funny thing is we did this seven times and he never caught on that Danny was looking for a number. Just comical. All day, Tom would pitch in his thoughts, but they were so hard to understand.

Another comical exchange was with Danny, Michael the bouncer and Michelle the vegetarian. They were looking at one photo of a young girl. Danny says “Now men grow facial hair early on and use that to conceal age. What do you think women use?” and Michelle pipes up “Breasts!” (Long Pause) Danny: “Um no…makeup.” But Michael then puts his foot in his mouth and attempted to agree with Michelle and basically sounded like he can tell all women’s ages just by looking at her, and not at her face.

I mentioned Tom Lee only said one sentence all day. It was when we were on another foul subject of why it is unhygienic to have free peanut bowls in bars. Danny went through his normal routine of painting a gross picture: person goes to bathroom, doesn’t wash hands, goes back to peanut bowl…and right then, Tom pipes up and says “There’s traces of **** on them!” And then slips quietly back into the room. Again, sorry about the profanity, but at this point in the day, I have heard every offensive word I can think of either from Danny, Brett, Michael or Nathan. And who knows what words Thomas may have been saying? Truth be told, we did get Tom to say a few more words at the end of the day when we found out his name was Tommy Lee. A couple Pam Anderson Jokes were made at his expense. Oddly enough he said most people called him Tommy Lee Jones…strange friends.

Tommy Lee

Regarding the profanity, Australia is a different culture than the USA. From what I’ve read and witnessed, swearing in the workplace isn’t uncommon. Even in my training at Coke, I would here the occasional crass comment. In one news blurb I read, it was typical for Americans to find Australian’s work etiquette offensive. It is just more laid back, that’s for sure. People work hard here; no doubt, they just do not have the most strict office rules.

To wrap this story up, there is a class tomorrow called RSG – which is a class more focused on working at a gaming site. I am tempted to take that class on entertainment value alone, but have decided I don’t need that right now.

Also on a strange note, my employment agency called today. They said that Coke was looking for someone at a different location. Same job that I just lost! But the location is even more of a hike to get to than the first one. So I declined the offer.

Keep sending those emails.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You are on the adventure of a lifetime! The experiences that you have daily are priceless and believe it or not, many of us wish we had charged out to see the world in the same fashion that you have. Keep writing these entertaining blog entries--who knows that may be your next calling...