During a bombshell of a public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 27, President Donald Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen appeared before the House Oversight Committee for his second of three days of testimony about his insight and knowledge into his former boss' business. One freshman lawmaker on the committee, who's become a household name, stood out for her line of questioning that got to the heart of matter, but it wasn't any legal expertise of her own that aided in her success. But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' tweet about her bartending experience is crediting her prior career with giving her the experience to get the info out of Cohen.
Writer and professor Matt Blaze tweeted out praise for the freshman congresswoman's questioning of Cohen on Wednesday, which led to a furthering of information for the committee. Ocasio-Cortez was applauded for her precise and intentional line of questioning, which many speculated was laying the groundwork for further investigation of the president and his finances. "Are we sure @AOC is a former bartender and not a former prosecutor?" Blaze tweeted on Feb. 27. "That was a pretty amazing line of questions today."
Thanking Blaze for the compliment, Ocasio-Cortez credited her performance as a skilled questioner to her former career as a bartender. "Bartending + waitressing (especially in NYC) means you talk to 1000s of people over the years. Forces you to get great at reading people + hones a razor-sharp BS detector," AOC tweeted. "Just goes to show that what some consider to be 'unskilled labor' can actually be anything but." It's something anyone who's worked in the restaurant industry can relate to.
Anyone who's worked in the food service or similar industries (or follows the Server Life channel on Instagram) can relate. The high-volume practice of interacting with complete strangers who are often impatient and trying to interpret what they need, want, and expect is an art form. Not to mention the other skills it takes — effective time management, calm under pressure, communication strategies, decision-making, team work, and — yes — detecting B.S. from a mile away. And that's what's needed for one specific so-called "unskilled" job.
Clearly, plenty of people could relate to the 29-year-old former bartender's defense of her old occupation.
"My 'unskilled' jobs taught me 10x more than my 'skilled' jobs ever did," wrote one user in response to AOC. "Waitresses and bartenders deserve major respect."
"My last job prior to starting gravity was a busboy at Outback Steakhouse," Gravity founder and CEO Dan Price wrote. "Great training for a company founder as well."
With folks like Sen. Kamala Harris gaining prominence for exercising their prosecutorial skills during hearings, some might've been surprised that AOC, without a legal background, held her own in the hearing the same as her colleagues. Historically, a healthy portion of Congress has consisted of lawyers; 39 percent of representatives in the House and fully half of the Senators of the 115th Congress had law backgrounds, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Though AOC mentioned in a subsequent tweet that she'd considered going to law school, she said it had been cost-prohibitive.
But from her Wednesday showing in the House (and other hearings where her line of questions made news), it appears she was able to get the hang of things pretty quickly.
Besides AOC, other big names in the Washington circle have cited their previous careers in the industry as giving them the incisive skills to be keen and highly observant in later high-stakes professions. Maggie Haberman, a dynamite White House reporter for The New York Times, told The Cut back in 2017 that it was her experience working at a bar where she learned to read people and approach total strangers, which helped her get where she is today.
So just a little food for thought: service industry occupations and they skills they can teach you aren't anything to overlook. Who knows, they might help you get to Congress.