know your bartender: Spencer Whiteley

Spencer.jpg

If you’re an Imminent Brewing regular - and if you aren’t you should re-examine your lifestyle choices - you’ve noticed some new faces behind the bar this fall. Once the summer ended, our friends Khal and Jamie found gainful employment in Minneapolis and Decorah (respectively), and Annie returned to her job at Carleton. After fourteen months of a ridiculously stable labor situation, the Imminent Bosses decided it was time to hire some new people.

Ladies and gentlemen we now have our very first group of Imminent Newbies.

This is pretty cool, and so far, it’s been pretty fun. The three people that were hired have fit in extremely well, which is a credit to them because this is a pretty close-knit staff. Sliding right in to something like this isn’t super easy. And for those of us who have been here for a while, it’s been kind of great to meet these folks and get to know them. What’s been especially fun has been to see the looks on their faces when I tell them they all have to talk with me for a little while so I can write things about them on the blog.

I have promised to be nice (sort of). So anyway, here we go… 

We begin with Spencer Whiteley, the first of the three to join the staff. However, they kind of take issue with this whole “new” label.

“I’ve been here almost two months already,” they said.

Spencer’s the smallish bartender from Hudson, Wisconsin with the short hair, glasses, an unfortunate lactose intolerance, and a smile as big as the bar itself. Spend any time at all talking to them and you’ll quickly realize that Spencer is about as smart and charming as they come. Having graduated from St. Olaf last spring, one wonders why on Earth are they still in Northfield?

“I came back to Northfield because my girlfriend is doing a fellowship here.”

Ah yes. The girlfriend. Emma. Why else does a young person choose to live anywhere?

I’m kidding. We adore Emma, and wholeheartedly endorse Spencer’s decision to be here with her. And honestly, it just makes sense. 

“My options after graduation were to go home to Hudson, which I didn’t really want to do, or live in the Cities or live here,” they said. “I would feel ridiculous if I lived anywhere else because, honestly, I would be here all the time anyway.”

So, the plan is to spend the year in Northfield, work and apply to grad schools. Imminent, we are proud to report, was Spencer’s first choice when they went looking for a job.

Right?

“I also work at the YMCA.”

Oh.

“I worked at the YMCA in Hudson, and it made sense to get a job there.

“But I did think of Imminent right away. I knew that I would need a couple of jobs for the year, and this was a place where I thought I would want to work. Once I knew that I’d be moving back to Northfield in mid-July, I emailed Laura immediately”

At St. Olaf, Spencer majored in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, and also had a concentration in Race and Ethnic studies. Alongside their studies, they were also key organizers for a couple important student resource groups.

“I was the coordinator of Glow!, which stands for Gay Lesbian Or Whatever (with an exclamation point). I also helped to start the college funded Gender and Sexuality Center. When St. Olaf was being investigated for Title IX issues, one of the things that came up is that there is a Wellness Center, but there was no Gender and Sexuality Center. And that makes it difficult to have adequate resources for students. So, when the college decided to allocate funds for something like this, they hired a woman to be the director and told her she could have one student worker. She had already worked closely together on a couple of Glow! projects, so she thought of me right away, and we started this Gender and Sexuality Center. They just gave us a budget and said ‘Build something that is good.’”

Which they did.

And, no, you aren’t misreading anything. Spencer’s pronouns are “They” and “Them.”

“I identify as Transgender. I don’t feel super attached to any identity word, which makes it more complicated for other people. What I know is that I do not identify as a man, nor do I identify as a woman. Neither of those words are super comfy, nor do they feel right. I prefer to use the pronouns ‘They’ and ‘Them’ because it feels better than ‘He’ or ‘She.’”

The gender thing, they said, can make for some really interesting conversations at their other job.

“I work with kids [at the YMCA], and I think the questions are great. Kids are my favorite because they don’t have a filter. They ask if I’m ‘a boy or a girl.’ I just tell them that I’m not a boy or a girl and I get different responses like ‘Oh, okay’ or ‘That’s not a thing’ or ‘How?’ Usually, I just say well some people are boys and some people are girls and some people are just people. And that usually does it.”

Aside from the fact that they have to be at work ridiculously early in the morning, Spencer loves working at the “Y.”

“I am the Youth Sports Lead. I do all the youth sports. I coach every sport that the Y has to offer to the kiddos. Right now I’m coaching volleyball to 3rd – 5th grade girls, and I’m coaching basketball for kids kindergarten through 5th grade. It’s really fun, but it’s organized chaos.  And sometimes the short basketball hoops aren’t short enough for some of the kids. But they’re all really cute.

“I like having a job where I work primarily with kids and then having a job working with adults.

“And I love Imminent. I loved coming here when I was a student. I always had great times here. I love the beer. I had never bartended before, but it was something that I thought – if I was going to bartend, this was the place where I would want to do it.

“It’s worked out. I’m a big fan.”