flickr photo by Sam Howzit shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

You’re a bartender. You work atypical shifts, and your schedule varies from week to week. Let’s face it, stuff happens, and sometimes it’s impossible to roll out of bed at noon after coming home at 5 a.m. after having vivid nightmares about serving people the wrong drink(s) only to do it all again the next day.

So what’s a sleepy and exhausted bartender to do when the energy to work another shift is nowhere to be found? Get that shift covered!

Here’s how to get your Same-Day Shift Covered:

Offer to Trade via Group Chat:

Loop in all eligible bartenders and start a shift swap group chat. Be gracious with your trade in, offer to pick up anyone’s worst shift in exchange for same day coverage of your shift. Honesty is key- don’t pretend your grandma died or you have the flu if you’re really just hungover or exhausted. Remember, your co-workers are bartenders too and they get it. Trustworthiness goes a long way and your chances of finding a cover will be increase if you are sincere.

IOU: Exchange an “I owe you” with One of your Co-workers:

This is essentially a promise guaranteeing next time said person is sick, not wanting to work etc. you will cover them. Do not issue an IOU if you have no intention of keeping it. Otherwise, next time you need someone to cover you, you will be S.O.L.

Call AND text your Manager or Direct Report Immediately:

Whether or not you’ve found a replacement, as soon as you realize you won’t be able to work, give your boss a heads up.Let your boss know you are actively searching for a cover and will hopefully be able to cover your shift. If the worst case scenario happens at least the manager will know you made a real effort.

Make your co-workers an Offer they Can’t Refuse:

If none of your co-workers agree to cover your same day swap, it’s time to negotiate. Offer to work two of their worst shifts (or whatever you deem negotiable) in order to get your shift covered. You may even decide to offer a same day shift coverage bribe such as $20 to cover their taxi/gas to get to work, or coffee on you for the next few shifts.

When possible, Give Advanced Notice:

If you are starting to feel unwell during your shift, or are thinking of calling out the next day, don’t wait until tomorrow comes. Instead speak to your boss in person, and ask co-workers face-to-face for coverage. By doing this you are more likely to receive the green light to take off the next day and your co-workers won’t be able to “pretend” they didn’t see your messages asking for a cover.

Everyone has days when they feel like their energy is limper than a wet dollar bill. If you find yourself in this position, just remember to act responsibly by notifying your manager(s) and actively searching for a cover. As long as these occurrences are infrequent (rather than habitual) your co-workers and bosses will usually be understanding and accommodating.

flickr photo by Sam Howzit shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Antasha Durbin

Antasha is a seasoned bartender with more than seven years of bartending and hospitality experience. She is also a spiritual writer at, where she writes free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living. You can follow her on Twitter @cajspirituality for daily inspiration.