Often people walk into the pub I work at – the once infamous Commercial Hotel, which was at one stage the fourth most violent pub in New South Wales and is now arguably Dubbo’s best place to get a feed – and double take when they see me behind the bar pulling a beer.
“You managing here now?” some ask.
“Are you security?”
Sometimes I’ll joke and say I’m the part owner (the pub has recently been sold and will exchange next month).
One of my cousins walked in on a Saturday night at around 10pm. Looking confused, he asked me if I’m now working as a barman.
My response: “Well they haven’t signed me up to be a bloody model have they!?”
In fact, his little sister, also my cousin, who is not yet 18, works in the restaurant. From playing with and against the world’s best, to working with your little underage cousin who you used to babysit, at a pub in Dubbo.
Many people can’t fathom that a bloke who has had a somewhat successful rugby career with ten seasons as a professional, earned a Wallaby cap (not plural), and won a Super Rugby title is now working part-time as a barman.
And herein lies a problem that many professional athletes may find themselves facing.
Some would be somewhat embarrassed by finding themselves in this position. That they are some sort of failure. Often professional athletes are placed on an unnecessary podium (there’s another article in that) by members of the public and their peers, not because of who they are, but because of what they are or, in my situation, were.
From this grows a sense of entitlement and an unhealthy dose of pride, the idea that once our careers are finished we are above certain positions or roles that many members of the general public accept without giving it any consideration.
Having a successful career as a professional athlete, while nice, doesn’t equate to a free ride in life afterwards. It would have given you exposure to a network of people and opportunities that would be the envy of many, which you hopefully should have made the most of, but it doesn’t equate to a guaranteed position higher than anyone else within society.
You are not guaranteed a role as middle manager, foreman or head of a department. You have to earn those, much like you had to earn that successful career.
Once we understand and accept this, then the humiliation that some find themselves facing when becoming just another face in the crowd will be eradicated.
For me, working at the pub has been a great way to network and catch up with people I otherwise wouldn’t do if I was tucked away in an office or on a shovel, many of whom I haven’t seen in years. Working these shifts means I’m staying off the beers myself and that there is plenty of time to work on my own exciting project I’ve got in the pipeline.
Often a having a job is a far better option than a ‘career’ as the hours are a lot more flexible and it allows you to ‘burn the boats’ as you pursue other passions, dreams or goals. (There’s another post in that too!)
If you do find yourself looking for a feed in Dubbo, pop in and say hello. I highly recommend the ribs!