Finding my inner Peggy Mitchell
'Do you have your ID please'? Those words haunted me during my early career.
I was a fairly confident 18-year-old, BUT, when it came to asking those who were more than likely older than me for proof they could legally purchase alcohol, well, I felt like a fraud!
Many a time I felt like running and hiding whenever a group of seemingly young people made a bee-line towards the bar; I knew that at any given moment the 'inner ugly' of one of the lairy revelers could rear its head - particularly if they had perceived me as being obtrusive on their quest to get merry!
I was not one for confrontation, but I would hold my own. So WHY was I always so wary of this aspect of the job?
I will never forget my very first line manager, Roslyn, saying to me 'Floss, if someone shouts or swears, that's on them. If someone has one too many and it's illegal, that's on us'.
Not just on me, but US. We were a team.
It was never about me; it was about doing what I could to safeguard the patron, whilst also keeping the premises licence safe.
That's when things changed.
It was a very cold night in late 2005, and Peggy had just returned to the square as a regular character; she had always been a favourite of mine for her straight-talking, no nonsense approach, and I realised then that I needed the confidence of Peggy. She wouldn't take any messing....no siree!
Looking back, I don't really know HOW I changed, or what I did differently, but I felt so much better just for believing that I DID have the authority to ask for proof of age, regardless of the fact I myself was barely legal.
A lot of the behaviours we display are based on how we perceive ourselves - so it took time, but I learned to accept that I could not control how someone reacted to a polite request, and I wasn't asking to be a 'stick in the mud'.
Fast forward to the present day, and I still think back to this when I am experiencing imposter syndrome. Of course I am no longer working behind a bar, but if I was, I would definitely be confident enough to shout.... 'GET OUT OF MY PUB' to badly behaved punters!
- R.I.P Dame Barbara Windsor. You were a powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with, and an inspiration to millions.