What I’ve Learned Working at a Winery

Drinking, Personal

I graduated in May 2013 and since then I have not really made any progress towards getting a job relating to my degree. But it’s due to a lack of effort or desire rather than rejection.

I started working at winery while I was still in college and I fell in love with it. My co-workers brought me joy, my customers made me happy, and my product made me drunk. What exactly was there to complain about?

But like any job, people come and go, procedures change, and customers cycle out over time. It’s inevitable. I still love my job, but since becoming a college graduate and then taking on a role as an assistant manager I’ve come to look at it from a very different perspective.

The set up of our winery is a bar and we are located in tourist part of the city. I’ve seen people from all over the country and world walk in. I’ve met people who know about vineyards and wine regions to those who deem Moscato and Boone’s Farm to be the ultimate wines. Ultimately I’ve begun to judge people based on how they walk into the winery. Do they look confused and lost? Do they look thirsty? Are they wearing anything bedazzled? Is there hair teased? All these check marks mentally run through my mind as I causally greet them and introduce our little business model.

Boones Farm: Your virginity never stood a chance.

Regardless of these seemingly pre-programmed questions, I’ve also been taught and re-taught not to judge a book by it’s cover. The woman with the thickest redneck accent is the wealthiest and most generous customer who I’ve encountered. The rough looking bikers who have become close friends who encourage adventure and portray a beautiful image of high school sweethearts 20 years later. The loner male wearing sagging jeans who wandered in on a Monday asking for Chianti with an impeccable Italian accent who wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and for someone to listen to his time stationed in Naples, Italy. The woman who just spent three weeks away for work, whose first place she wants to arrive is the winery because it literally feels like home to her.

These people remind me daily how many beautiful individuals there are in the world and how lucky I am to serve them and help them bring a bit of blurriness to their rather hectic every day lives. Moments like these punctuate the day in and day out at work and remind me why it matters that I am here. Strangers: I recognize you, I listen to you, and I deeply care about how your day was when no one else really gives a damn that you had an eye infection that caused you to lose your dog and now you are crying into your glass of Merlot and I’m bringing you a napkin to wipe up your tears.

On the flip side, there are those individuals who make you feel ashamed for being a server. These people relish in the idea of being demanding and ordering someone around, dangling a tip in your face in exchange for a smile, a glass of water, conversation, three glasses of wine, endless questions about how the wine is made, and two bags of bottles later they scribble in the tip line a measly two dollars and scurry out after turning the receipt paper over to hide their gross injustice to you. These people are small and weak in their every day lives and want to make someone, just for a moment, feel as insignificant as they feel daily. I feel sorry for them because they see me as a pair of hands holding a bottle, rather than for a person capable of being much more to them.

Throughout the myriad of tasting glasses, empty clanking of bottles, spilled wine, drunken laughter, and handshakes I hope that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life even if it was for a moment. I hope I am part of story later on down the road. I have faith that I am more than just a lowly wine-tress because I believe that I am.

More importantly, however, is the fact that I allow people to become a part of my story. I enjoy seeing their faces and hearing about their lives just as much as they enjoy the wine I serve them. At this junction, over a year into working here, I have come to love the people more than my co-workers and the wine. When my time comes to a close here and five years later I am applying for a job and I’m asked to explain a gap in my resume, I want to simply reply, “I was busy learning how to treat people they way we all want to be treated deep down by strangers.”

And I truly hope that’s sufficient because I’m not sure that, “I was busy being a wine-o” will be.

My Last Hundred Bucks: Normal Texas Stuff

Drinking, Personal

Where’d your last hundo go, Briana Wucinski?

$4.93: Starbucks large venti soy latte. It worries me that almost every one of these begins or contains an unnecessary coffee purchase. Then I realize how essential caffeine is to the world and I once again understand.

$15: Gas, because you can’t get anywhere in Texas without a car. Thank you wide open spaces.

$4: I chipped in for tacos with a friend. You also can’t go a week in Texas without tacos.

$25.98: Two bottles of wine I bought for our group of friends. Luckily this was paid back in copious amounts of cocktails at the next bar(s) we attended that evening.

$10: Brewery tour on a Saturday. This was possibly the best money I’ve spent so far, because not only did I get three fancy craft beers, I also got to keep the pint glass. My entire glassware collection has been cultivated from brewery tours’ free pint glasses. I consider it a thrifty bonus to getting day drunk on a Saturday afternoon.

$19: Splitting a very, very large pizza that ended up feeding me for my next three meals.

$24: Spent at various bars on booze that fuels my young 20-something blood. I ended up $4 short at the final bar and my friend had to spot me. Guess I’m out until my next payday.

Worth it.

Briana Wucinski lives in … Texas.

*Originally posted on The Billfold as part of their It Was Here and Then It Was Gone series.

I Think They Call This a Breakthrough

Dating, Drinking, Personal

It’s amazing I was single.

At the ripe old age of 14, I was in lOvE with boys. I had my fair share of unrequited teenage crushes which resulted in a devastating amount of hours listening to Blink-182 in my bedroom decorated with collages of teen heartthrobs who I would never meet. Thinking back, I realized it’s not too far off from today. I’ve traded Blink for the Black Keys and the collages for photos of European places I ca’t return to quite yet, but ultimately I’m still pining away for the unattainable in my bedroom.

And it’s amazing I still am.

Why do we sit and wait for the right time or the right man or the right thing to magically manifest itself while we causally sit at home drinking wine? (besides the fact that wine makes everything better in general and increases the flow of time exponentially)

I think my inaction stems from a fear of getting hurt. I’m not sure if that’s the entire reason why I’m reluctant to put myself out there – but it’s definitely part of it. Just like everyone else in the world.

So that’s why I’m not having it. I’m keeping my butterflies in the cocoon. I’m ripping the buds off before they bloom. I’m humming in the drizzle instead of singing in the rain. (I’m also realizing I don’t really know many metaphors for being in love).

I’m picking men I can’t have relationships with. Foreigners who will eventually take their sexy accents back to where they came from. Or I’m the foreigner who will be taking my un-exotic self back to Texas. They have a schedule completely opposite from me. There’s construction on the way to their house. They live 20 hours away. They are too old. They are in a different place in life than me. They aren’t happy enough or they aren’t making me happy. I don’t want to be someone’s girlfriend but I don’t want to just be a piece of ass.

From one extremity to the next, I’m toeing this line between what I want and what I can get. But this the kicker – I have no idea what I want. Just like every other woman on the planet.

Realizing that is all fine and dandy but what’s there left to do? This obviously:

And it’s amazing that I will continue to be single until my untimely death due to alcohol poisoning. Cheers!

And afterwards? In all of the inexplicable abyss of options, I’m left with an inability to make any decision that seems right. That’s why your twenties are about doing and then learning (ah!) and I’m learning that whether I’m consciously making the choice to be with someone who is unattainable, I’m making the choice nonetheless.

Someone pass me a beer. All this personal reflection is making me thirsty.

I’ve also made the realization that I may use alcohol as a numbing agent. Whoops.

Disasters in Dating

Dating, Drinking, Personal

WTF.

I apologize for the lack of posts. What with school starting up again this fall I haven’t been nearly as bored as I was during my internships. But there’s something else I’ve been doing lately – I’m kind of, sort of, seeing someone.

Oh yes.

I feel like just as I was getting into the whole idea of being single and gettin’ my swag on at the bars every weekend, I just happened to wind up dating someone. After of course, my mother asked him for his phone number and he subsequently wrote it down for us as a joke. And then I in turn left him a note reading, “If you were just working for a tip tonight, great job, but if you need someone to squeeze your flat ass sometime, give me a call.”

Oh yes.

And my crass humor and brazen (mostly delusional) self-confidence got me a lunch date, followed by many more drinks out and now I’m here. Dating someone. It’s new and it’s uncomfortable and I constantly feel like I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to do.  It’s been almost 6 months since I ended things with my ex-boyfriend of over five years. He was my first everything. First real date, first time saying ‘I love you’, first date kiss, first sleepover, first fight, first struggle to find a balance in a relationship.

My most recent first date…ended in a high five.

And the awkwardness didn’t stop there. I’ve been fumbling my way through dating for the past few weeks and let me tell you, it’s nothing like a romantic comedy. I’ve said numerous things that have made me sound more idiotic than a drunk, blonde girl who ‘auditioned’ to be in a Girls Gone Wild video.  I told him I was scared of his penis. I’ve thrown up in his front yard and proceeded to pass out in his bathroom. Last night, on accident, I punched him in the groin.

Oh yes.

I’m sure there will be more stories to come. I can’t imagine I’ll get any better at this.

Hm…really? You don’t say.

Love Letters to Europe: Budapest

Drinking, Love Letters to Europe, Travel

Budapest,

You are the bad boy my mother always warned me about.

You were dirty, you smelled, you were rough, and you were a blur of boys, booze, and baths. Yes, I said baths.

You were also the craziest, most adventurous, and epic weekend of my life.

As soon as I got to the city I got lost. I got on the wrong bus, took a wrong turn, and ended up sitting outside a cafe just to use the Wi-Fi to look at a map. Your language was so confusing and I didn’t understand you at all.

And then I found Retox*.

Retox Party Hostel is where dreams are made, beds are broken, and non-stop drinking began and hasn’t stopped since. I showed up at 11 am and was ushered upstairs into the common room where roughly 8 shirtless dudes were nursing hangovers or still rockin’ the buzz from the night before. At the time, I didn’t know this was an every day occurrence.

I was the fresh prey. I felt like you trapped me, Budapest. You created a booby trap lined with alcohol and penises and bad decisions.

The clap-out. I was pulled into a hostel room and told to clap. Mindlessly I did, slowly looking around and panicking at the amount of dick in this hostel. Then I realized what we were clapping for: a dreadlocked guy, naked, in bed with a redhead who was also naked. Apparently this was her fifth night in the hostel….and she wasn’t staying here. I would later learn more of your traditions like M-I-N-E and Buffalo. I took a tequila shot with cinnamon and orange instead of salt and lime. I remember thinking how bizarre everything felt.

I wasn’t kidding about the plethora of dick at the hostel.

Budapest, you were so bad for me. Instead of giving me water, you handed me pints of beer. Instead of meeting your friends, you introduced me to men whose only interest was getting laid. Instead of sightseeing, you showed me the hostel bar and held me captive for hours drinking with the British guys.

Still, I wouldn’t change you for anything. I laughed so hard. I pushed my comfort boundaries to levels that are unheard of down South. I made friends with anyone and everyone, and it wasn’t just because I was drunk for the majority of the three days.

I wasn’t myself. I was Texas. I was ballsy, brash, blunt, and an overall badass – or so I felt anyways. I’m not really sure what everyone else but I didn’t care. I was so drunk on beer and confidence that I felt like I could take on the world.

You were gentle at times though. Like after I got back from touring all day by myself and I felt lonely, you introduced me to the Aussie who gave me the kind of hug that changes your day. Then he invited me on that alternative walking tour where I got to see your ruin bars and street art. God, you were so cool**. 

I cuddled with boys who reminded me for a few moments what it felt like to just lay next to someone. I remember feeling desired by guys. I left with friends who I wouldn’t ever see again but I knew I wouldn’t forget.

When I left, I cried in the taxi. It was so bittersweet. Boss telling me that I was going to be legend. I told Johnny next time I came back I wanted to work there. It was 4:30 am and I remember thinking, “This is it. I go home in 36 hours. My trip is officially over.” It was the end of Europe, not just you and me.

I know when I come back to you Budapest, I won’t be leaving for weeks because you’ll trap me again. There won’t be a plane ticket or a plan to interfere this time. I’ll give into your temptations without a shred of guilt, without looking ahead, and never looking back.  

Love,

Briana

*I would recommend anyone visiting Budapest to stay at one of the party hostels, preferably Retox, if you love to meet people, go out, and get crazy. Just make sure to prepare your liver beforehand.

**Check out the blog Postcards to Budapest for cool photos of the city, since I was too intoxicated to operate a camera for the duration of my stay.

I’m Drunk and You’re Pretty

Dating, Drinking

The following have been said to or by yours truly.

Things You Don’t Want to Hear in a Bar:

“If they don’t take you home, I will.”

Man: “Usually you would buy me a drink.” Uh actually I wouldn’t and I won’t. I have boobs. Boobs trump penis any day.

“Look, they’ve been laying the groundwork, but I’d much rather go home with you tonight.”

“I’m not with her, she’s just a friend. She’s actually on the Varsity Swim Team.” Yeah, she’s just a friend. And I’m just tipsy.

“I went to BYU.” Mormons.

“How can I get you home?” If you have to ask, it’s not going to happen.

“I’m not doing well, am I?” Not after that comment. Maintaining what little confidence you had is only going to get more difficult from here on out.

“I know your mom.” Although it would be worse if they said, “You look like your mom.”

“Oh you’re from TCU? You’re one of those girls.” Actually no, I’m not one of those girls, but you are, in fact, one of those assholes who assume stereotypes are always correct.

“I would hit that.” And I would hit your face.

“Please stop. You’re messing with my other options.”

“I remember your white blazer from last night. It’s very…um…unforgettable.”

“In my free time I play video games.” Guys, even if this is all you do in your free time, never say it to a girl. I watch Sex and the City all day, every day and I would never admit that to a potential.

Things I’m Fond of Hearing in Bars:

“Could I buy you a beer?” I don’t care that my Shiner is $1 tonight and that’s why you’re offering, a free drink always taste better.

“I’m from Britain.” & “I have a Swedish passport.” Anything that tells me that you are not American and I’m dropping my jaw (among other things) at the bar.

“I’m 24.” & “I work [here].” Job, check. Not a boy, check. Got your shit together, check.

“Would you like this seat?” Thank you for checking out my ass and then noticing how good it looks because of my 5 inch heels that I can barely walk in.

“I can’t concentrate because you’re smile is so pretty.” Aw, shucks, thanks orthodontia.

I hope everyone has a splendid Friday night out.

Expectations are the Enemy

Dating, Drinking

Watch the clip below to understand the topic I will be discussing:

Expectations ruin any good thing you thought could happen and all you end up with is disappointment and negativity.

I’m still learning this now that I’m home. Expecting that cute shirt to look good when you try it on or thinking you are going to have a legendary night out are harmful and detrimental thoughts to actual reality.

When you let go of expectations and let life just happen, you will be a lot more satisfied by the outcome, because you aren’t comparing it to what could have happened.

Expectations are human constructs. We manufacture them for ourselves as humans to set boundaries and ideals for our lives. Religion, culture, fashion, etc are all perceptions of what society expects of us. Life is what actually happens. It’s uncontrollable, and the more you try to tightly hold on and constrain it, the more out of control you actually begin to feel.

In case you aren’t understanding what I’m saying, here is a graph to help.

My friend gave me this advice about guys, “Don’t wish for anything. Don’t imagine anything. Because as soon as you do, whatever you wanted to happen will never, ever, in a million years, happen.”

So being single I’ve learned that I should have no hopes or dreams when it comes to men.

Which as negative as that sounds – it’s just a more realistic way to look at life. Dating isn’t a romantic comedy staring [insert beautiful, witty, and charmingly awkward actress] and [insert hunky male star with gorgeous smile that makes you forgive them at the end of the film for being an asshole]. Life is about making the best of any situation because you are living life, not acting out a contrived plot. We won’t ever be able to guess the ending of our lives, and that’s one of the perks of living.

Stories from abroad: 

One thing I learned abroad was not to expect anything amazing, incredible, life-changing, or memorable to happen, because as soon as you expected it to happen – you would inevitably be disappointed when it didn’t happen.

The best example I have to champion the destruction of your expectations happened on a Wednesday night in Florence with my friend Stephanie.

We honestly wanted one drink. One simple drink. We went to our favorite student bar, Naima, and it was a slow night. The night was young and so were we, so we stopped by another bar called Lion’s Fountain. As we were perusing the crowd, we were approached by these guys who offered to buy us drinks. After talking for a while we went with them to a club, 21, and proceeded to get more free drinks. From there we went to a nearby pub, and following suit, more free drinks. Hell, Stephanie even got a bouquet of flowers. Then we went to another club, YAB. After that, the night is pretty much black. However, the next morning I woke up to this note in my phone:

No, I never saw Adam again, but that’s not really the point.

The point is, NONE of that would have happened if we had been planning on having some epic night out. We went out, not expecting anything and we ended up having a blast…albeit a black out…but a blast nonetheless.

So my advice to everyone on this Thirsty Thursday: screw expectations.

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong century. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” It’s nostalgia for studying abroad that one semester. Travel is realizing that “age thirty” should be shed of its goddamn stigma.”

– Nick Miller, Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?

Taken from The Squeaky Robot’s post Exodus 

“Travel is little beds …

Drinking, Inspiration, Travel