…please bring cash.
Seriously, guys, it’s easy. Alright so let me just admit one thing: it is easier for me than it is for you. I make some percentage of my income in cash so I don’t require a trip to the ATM to keep my reserves up. It is always just sort of, there. It’s a point of pride for me really. And any lack of cash is a source of serious embarrassment. I am a bartender so cash sort of comes with the territory. For the rest of you who receive paychecks through direct deposit and make all your bill payments automatically on some pre-decided day of the month, a trip to the bank might seem annoying, unnecessary even. But if you go out to bars, and especially busy ones, the trip is well worth a little chunk of time out of your day.
So for one thing, we are not all like a Starbucks. (Yes, I understand that Starbucks does not serve booze – yet. Hang with me here.) You know how at Starbucks you can go in, order your grande whatever the fuck you drink and then hand them your card for the $5 not-so-delicious concoction they hand back to you? Well, the same doesn’t hold true in your neighborhood bar. Please don’t walk in, ask me what the cheapest thing is (already a super big no-no) and then hand me your card. I will not run it. And then when I tell you that there is a credit card minimum — a fact that, by the way, is written in like 6 different locations, one of which is above the ATM that is provided for your convenience — do not tell me that it is illegal to have a credit card minimum. Believe me, that does not help your cause. Not only have I heard that argument more times than I care to remember (I worked in a bar frequented by both lawyers and law students for years) but I honestly couldn’t care less for the following three reasons:
1. It isn’t my rule, it is the rule of the place in which I work and if you have a problem with it you can bring it up with the owners who, by the way, also couldn’t care less.
2. It is an incredibly empty threat. You know it and although maybe you don’t think I know it I actually do, in fact, know it. Do you think any lawyer worth their weight in salt is going to take the time to bring a bar to court for having a credit card minimum? Maybe more to the point, do you think that I think any lawyer worth their weight in salt is going to take the time to bring a bar to court for having a credit card minimum? I mean, you probably do think I would think that since you brought it up with the hopes that it would have the desired outcome of me running your credit card for a $3 bud bottle which makes me sad for you. You really ought to stop going through life underestimating people.
3. Credit card companies are doing just fine without them forcing small business to pay astronomical fees (I’m looking at you, American Express). Here’s the thing: you like your local bars, right? You like them because you become friendly with the bartenders, sometimes maybe you even get a drink for free or a Peep dropped in your beer at Easter time (kidding, that’s only when I work). You like that you know the owners because it makes you feel like you are in the inner circle. Don’t make it harder for them to survive because you are too lazy to walk to the ATM down the block. And certainly don’t complain about how you don’t want to pay a fee for pulling out cash because you know who else doesn’t want to pay a fee? The person you are trying to get to run your card for 3 bucks. The person who, by the way, doesn’t only have to pay that fee the one time. Don’t forget, you aren’t the only one paying with a card. That fee happens over and over and over again.
And here is the other thing. So I work in two, occasionally three, different bars. They are all incredibly different. One is a sports bar with a kitchen that serves better-than-average pub food. One is a super small, super local spot with a diverse beer selection and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. And the last one turns into something of a hip-hop dance party on the weekends. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that people want their drinks and they want them in a timely fashion. This is easy on a low key afternoon but considerably more difficult on a Saturday night when the bar is 3 deep. And do you know what makes it even more difficult? When I have my back turned to the customers for half the night because I am running through one of the 190 different tabs that have been opened and closed over the course of 3 hours. Because here is the thing folks:
I cannot make you a drink while I am running credit cards through the machine.
And isn’t that what you came out for? Drinks? I mean, I know I have an alright ass and all but I am quite certain you didn’t venture out of your apartment to stare at it for half the night. And if you did, ew, please go somewhere else.
And just one other thing, while I have you all here. If you insist on paying with your card, or you went to the bank and somehow it was entirely out of cash (at which point I would advise you to look for a new financial institution to handle your business because that shit is crashing and burning), please just open one tab. Don’t order a round and close your tab and then come back 15 minutes later and order another round and close your tab again and then come back another 30 minutes later and order another around and, you guessed it, close your tab. That really gums up the works. And it pisses me off. Especially if you are one of the people that gave me a hard time about the credit card minimum the first time around. I remember you. Believe me. It’s just like, think about it. You know how you said
“excuse me, miss?! Helloooo-oooooo”
when I had my back to the bar because I was running a card when you wanted a drink? And how you couldn’t understand why you weren’t getting what you wanted exactly at the moment you wanted it because I was doing something else? Well now, as I run your card for the third time tonight, someone else is waiting with an empty glass, wondering what is taking so long. So, you know, just some food for thought. It’s not all about you.
So you guys, please, I beg you, just bring cash. It saves us all time and, if we’re smart about it, money. And when I know you are paying cash and I am incredibly busy I will probably get to you a little faster. You might even get that buyback that can be so illusive on a busy night. It’s a win-win.