BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA — Three years ago, Derek Wallace was on the top of the world. He stumbled his way into a bar management position at the hippest cocktail bar in town. He landed a part-time mezcal brand ambassador gig. Two of his recipes were published by beverage media. He was the first person in his community to decide Fernet wasn’t cool. 36 months later though, things are very different.
“To be honest, my rise happened so quickly, I’m not sure how it happened. I just got the green light on everything I reached for,” he told us this afternoon. “Eventually though, I needed a break. I found myself choosing between successfully accomplishing my duties at the bar or for the brand, and felt overwhelmed.”
“Neither job reprimanded me though, I totally made the decision to leave [mezcal brand] on my own. Actually, now that I think about it, both jobs were bummed when I said I couldn’t do it anymore. They said it was a ‘good look’ to have me in the dual role and that they’d help me work around it. I left anyway.”
Derek is back working behind the bar full-time. He took a job at a new bar that opened up in the up-and-coming section of town.
“I applied to be bar manager, but was placed in an assistant bar manager role. Tina Chu got the bar manager position. I didn’t even get the weekend swing shift that I asked for. It was a shock to my ego, for sure.”
We didn’t ask Derek how he coped with this, but he told us anyway.
“It was hard. Times are different I suppose. The world is changing and confronting harsh realities. White supremacy opened doors for me and I was too arrogant to notice. I did not consider those who were more deserving. I was a giant blindfolded baby, stumbling over their dreams with my big booties of privilege. I suppose I’ll need to start putting in a little effort to prove my worth around here. Maybe I should learn the menu specs.”