The Birthday Cake

If you’ve ever read one of my stories, you’ll know that there are a few things I don’t talk about.  One of them is tipping.  I think it’s uncouth and unprofessional to talk about it.  It’s something to be appreciated when it comes to you, and when it doesn’t, you should keep your feelings about it to yourself, or your fellow bartender.  With that said,

I’m going to tell a story about tipping.

There’s a guy who comes into the bar that doesn’t tip.  He doesn’t tip, he’s NEVER tipped.  Not once.  I have probably served him over the past five months 30 times.  And he has never tipped me a cent.  Ok, what’s the big deal?  Guess what?  There are people in the world who tip (which I prefer), and there are people that don’t tip (which I do not).  Guess what what?  At the end of the day, it all usually evens out.  You’ve got your tippers, thanks for that.  You’ve got your BIG tippers, thanks again.  And then sometimes, you have people that still don’t understand the concept of tipping.  I get it, I really do.  Maybe you grew up really poor, and you just can’t comprehend the concept of giving extra money to some shmuck behind the bar.  I mean, what’s he doing that the guy at McDonald’s is not doing?  I don’t have to tip him for some fries, do I?  This guy just cracked open a beer, big whoop!  And you expect me to give him A WHOLE DOLLAR?!?  No WAY!  So yeah, it depends on where you’re from, how you were raised, your experience.  I GUARANTEE, if you’ve worked for tips in the service industry at any time in your life, you’ll have a different take on tipping, in comparison to someone that has not.  It’s experience.  And I’m fine WITH ALL THAT because I see the big picture on things.  This guy doesn’t tip, but this woman over here just tipped 50%.  All good.

But here’s the problem, with this one guy in particular.

He’s a musician, and gets half-off his drinks.

Let’s clear the air here once and for all.  If you ever get a discount on your drinks for whatever reason, it’s good advice to tip.  Now if you want to get specific, you should tip at least 20% on how much your tab should’ve been if it hadn’t been discounted.  But, you know what?  Do your best.  You don’t need to get ridiculous here.  Let your conscience be your guide.

And I’m going to tell you this.  Most musicians get it.  They really do.  I’ve been bartending for musicians for 13 years now, and I’d say, 89% of them get it.  And they’re usually extremely generous.  This guy I’m talking about is an exception.  An OUTLIER.  But I just gotta tell the story.

And I’ve tried EVERYTHING with the guy.  I mean, I pour it on thick.  Oh man, loved your solo tonight.  Wow, you look good in that suit, etcetera etcetera.  It’s almost like a huge challenge for me.  My goal:  TO GET A DOLLAR FROM THIS GUY.  One.  And let me reiterate.  I’ve served him 30 times, he’s playing the club I work in, he gets half-off for playing, and…

No tip.

It’s April 6th, my birthday.  Whoop-dee-doo.  My wife is awesome, I’m working, she brings in a birthday cake, she invites a few of my friends to come in.  Great night.  I’m passing around cake to my friends, my kids, and a few of my favorite customers.  I hope you see where this is going.

The no tipper guy comes up to the bar.  Here’s my chance, I’m going to go for broke, if there was ever a chance to get a measly dollar off of this guy, tonight’s the night.  It’s my BIRTHDAY.

Hey man, sounding great tonight.  Oh, thanks, really appreciate it.  What can I get you?  Hmmm….  I think I’ll have Moscow Mule.

I say, absolutely.  And you know what?  Tonight’s my birthday (I say, mock-sheepishly).  My wife brought me in some cake.  I would really LOVE IT if you would have a piece of my cake.

He says, Really?  Oh, that’s awesome.  Thank you.  I will!  I say, great, man.  I’ll get that Moscow Mule for you.

Oh this dollar is mine, baby.  There is NO WAY this guy is not going to tip me.  It’s inconceivable!  The BARTENDER is GIVING YOU a SLICE of his BIRTHDAY CAKE.  That’s HUGE!!!!!  You just got to throw the bartender a tip for that.

I make the Moscow Mule.  And I really put a lot of love in it, too, making it just right.  Get the copper cup out, the Tito’s vodka, crack open a brand new bottle of Ginger Beer, just the right amount of Rose’s Lime, and a freshly cut lime slice on the side.

Here you go, my friend.  He says, thanks!  And Happy Birthday.

And then gives me

The

Exact

Change.

I watch him walk over gingerly to my birthday cake, cut a big fat slice for himself, and with a big smile, take a pleasurable bite out of it.

And all I can think of is.  If there is justice in this world, there is a special place in the 9th Gates of Hell for this guy who would not tip a dollar to the bartender on his birthday,

And eat his birthday cake.

 

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