Tag Archives: money

That Time a Lady Told me to Smile

7 Apr

I had a weird moment last night at work. It was this response to an interaction with this woman where I was like

Wow, Rebekah, you’ve changed!

but then at the same time

Ew, lady, aren’t we supposed to be on the same team here?

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to recount the story and then I am going to go ahead and address these two simultaneous reactions that I had to it. Ready? Break!

Part One: The Story

It is French Quarter Fest here in New Orleans. Anyone who has been here for any sort of fest at all knows that shit is cray. There are people everywhere. There is confusion. Costumes. Glitter. Music. Tourists. More zombies* than normal. It’s a whole thing. Not a bad thing, but a thing. To add to the drama let me inform you that I work in the French Quarter which, if your powers of deductive reasoning are on point, means that I work in the exact area where the French Quarter Fest is occurring. That means that my bar is busy busy busy.

I walked in last night at 5pm to a busier-than-average Thursday night. And the thing about a busier-than-average night in my place is that we have “steps of service.” The steps of service at the spot I worked at in Brooklyn basically involved getting drinks out as quickly as possible while avoiding the limes and clipboards that miffed customers could potentially hurl at your head. No joke. At this place the steps are more involved and less potentially dangerous. I am telling you all this just so that you know that getting people food and drinks at the spot I work at now is something of a process.

Alright so now imagine this. There we are during dinner on a busier-than-average Thursday night and all of a sudden me and one of my coworkers realize

Hey, why hasn’t any of the food we ordered come out? It’s been a minute.

And by a minute we meant like 45. We then come to find out that the printer in the kitchen has stopped working and they didn’t get any of the tickets. So this might lead one to ask ones self

Self, there is a full restaurant out there and yet there are no tickets coming through the printer. Has this city declared a moratorium on food or is something amiss?

But I don’t think anyone asked themselves that. Or maybe they did, I don’t know. But either way they didn’t keep the bar in the loop and we had two ladies on a 45 minute wait for a salad and some shrimp. Anyway, I was in the midst of discussing this fiasco with my manager when I heard from the other side of the bar a very curt and impatient

Hell-loooooooo.

I looked over to see a blonde lady staring at me with what I can only describe as crazy eyes. You know the eyes.

Me: Hi.
Lady: Gesticulates wildly to the space in front of her.
Me: What can I do for you?
Lady: Well, we just got here and….. (gives me a meaningful look that invited me to read her mind but really just made her look even crazier.)
Me: Here’s a drink menu. Would you like food also?
The lady looks at her husband and they share a communal huff and make moves to get up. I shrug my shoulders and take the menu back and go back to the conversation about the broken ticket printer in the kitchen which I was in the middle of having when she sassed me in the first place.
Lady: Smile.
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Lady: Smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile. You would make a lot more money if you smiled. Mo-ney. Smiiii-llleee. (All the while she is using her hands to demonstrate what a smile the size of Texas might look like and staring at me as if I had somehow committed the largest offense ever.)

They then left. But not after telling me that they live in the city and would never be back to this restaurant ever again if their life depended on it. I shed a silent tear. And then I went back to doing my job. Meanwhile, all the people around this couple were shocked and could not understand what had just happened. I told them I also couldn’t understand it. They said they thought I was nice. I agreed. One guy said he thought they came in with a bad attitude. I said he was probably right. We all laughed and laughed. And then we carried on with our evenings, largely unaffected by the bad attitude cloud that had momentarily descended on the bar.

Part Two: I’ve Changed!

Have you ever had some big experience and then afterwards noticed a large change in yourself? This is totally stupid but when I came back from my year abroad I noticed that, as a result of the countless hours spent in various modes of transportation, sometimes for hours and hours longer than expected, I was completely unfazed by being stuck in traffic or being on long car rides. This is still the case all these years later. I used to get a little impatient but now I’m like

Eh. Whatever. I’m sitting here.

In the grand scheme of things that isn’t such a big thing but it certainly does make the amount of traveling I do significantly easier. AND I think it makes me a better car partner. So anyway, in the past if I had an experience like the one with the lady, I would have gone down this whole rabbit hole of emotion. I would have analyzed every single second of our interaction and tried to figure out what exactly I had done to cause her to behave like such an asshole. But sometimes, people are just assholes. Or, they behave like assholes in a specific moment for no real reason. And sometimes there is nothing you do to cause it and nothing you can do to prevent it and so your only solution is to shrug your shoulders and be like

Alright cool what’s next.

And that’s just what I did. I sort of figured if they wanted to be Bad Attitude Bears all around town that was on them and I certainly didn’t need to let it effect the rest of my night or the service I provided to other people. So, fuck ’em. I hope they went home and stewed in their own unhappiness rather than raining it down upon the rest of us people just out trying to have a good time or make a buck.

Part Three: Teammates? No?

I should have learned this already following the presidential election but a lot of white women suck. And beyond that, all us women are not on the same team. Okay, fine. But here’s the thing. Men tell me to smile a lot. A LOT. I’ll be walking down the street and hear some dude be all

C’mon, honey, it’s not that bad. Smile.

Or

You’d look a lot better if you’d smile.

I find that super offensive. It very well might be that bad. And maybe I don’t feel like smiling. But either way shut the fuck up my face is not your concern. Basically every woman I have ever spoken to about it also finds it offensive. The thing about it is I know a lot of women and none of them, not a single one, goes about life with a smile plastered on her face at all times. And I get it, work is different, especially when you work in service. You have to smile more. It makes people feel welcome and people who feel welcome have a better time and tip better. Yadda yadda yadda. The funny thing about it is that I smile at work a lot. I smile so much that some of the dudes in the kitchen call me sunshine. I smile so much that when the barback heard that some lady told me to smile he looked at me and said,

You? Jesus. I think you should smile less.

And so, yeah, I know we all don’t see life the same way but, come on lady! Get a clue! It’s like, I expect men to be condescending assholes and tell me how to live my life down to my every facial expression. I don’t like it but I expect it. I do not, however, expect it to come from a woman who has most likely had a similar experience and felt disempowered or spoken down to or whatever. It’s like, way to drink the koolaid, bitch. Way to just swallow, full stop, normalized sexism and misogyny and throw it in the face of someone 15 years younger than you because you didn’t get a menu and a glowing smile the very second your ass hit the barstool. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t willing to ignore your impatience and rudeness and discern exactly what you needed at that exact moment. I’m pretty good at my job but I am not a magician.

***

And with that, I must away. another 3 days of French Quarter Fest await and I have to do my facial exercises, you know, so I can smile more.

* Zombies, New Orleans style (n): zom-bie
(1) a. a will-less and speechless human (as in West Indian voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have drank too much on Bourbon Street and been supernaturally reanimated
b. the supernatural power of the Hurricane or Hand Grenade that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body

Tip #17 on Being a Good Bar Customer

24 Jun

Alright, once again with the tips. But first, a little background information for you. In case you didn’t know this about me, I really don’t like money. Or, well, I guess that isn’t fair. To be more accurate: I really don’t like what money does to people. So many of the problems that we have in this world can be traced back to money and what it does to people. Here are some examples:

  • The looting of the Amazon and other natural wonders
  • The fact that we cannot seem to get our heads out of our fucking asses and enact actual, reasonable gun reform
  • The Detroit water crisis
  • The lack of actual, sustained help for New Orleans and all its residents regardless of race or economic status in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
  • The fact that Hurricane Katrina did the damage that it did in the first place
  • War
  • That athletes, musicians, politicians and basically every other male in power (and many of those not in power) get away with sexual assault and rape
  • Global warming
  • Donald Trump

You get the picture. All that being said, I do understand that money is a thing that is necessary for survival in this world and so, in order to make survival possible, I work. And when I work, I want to make as much money as I can. And that, friends, is a team effort. My ability to make money really depends on you coming into the place that I work, ordering the things that you want from me, and then tipping me appropriately. My livelihood depends on you. That’s right. You. (I am pointing at you right now. Is it making you feel weird? It should.) But that’s not all! It also depends on you understanding that the seats at my bar and tables are like real estate. You rent a space for your ass by buying things and tipping me on them. And when you stop buying things, and stop tipping on them, you abandon your rented space and make room for the next guy. This isn’t to say that the second you take your last sip I expect you to walk away from whatever conversation you’re having, game you’re watching, or Tweet you’re Tweeting, but it is to say that you should be aware and respectful of my need to pay my rent and buy food for my two adorable little kitties. Stories!

During the World Cup last year I was at work and my bar was packed. But there, at the bar, was an empty stool. How odd! Upon closer inspection I came to realize that two people sitting at the bar were saving the stool for someone who had yet to arrive. Now on a normal day when there is plenty of space, I wouldn’t mind that. Save away! There’s nothing better than getting to a bar to meet your friends after a long day of work and finding that they have saved a seat, just for you! But on a day when the bar is jam packed with people wanting to pay money for things (and tip on those things) saving a seat is sort of cutting into my business. People notice there is no space and move on to another spot. Or, because they are behind a wall of people, they are not able to buy drinks with the regularity that they, and I, might like. And so I looked at the people saving the seat and I said

Excuse me, but do you think you could move your bag so someone could sit in that seat?

And the lady of the pair said

No, I’m actually saving this seat for someone.

So I smiled and said

Yeah, that’s great, except that certain someone isn’t here yet and we are well into the first half of the game and there are other people who are actually here now and would like to sit.

She stared at me. I stared at her. She moved her bag. Therefore I won. I almost always win staring contests. Her friend, by the way, didn’t arrive for over an hour. So this lady and her companion were actually going to sit at the bar as person after person asked if they could sit and they would respond

Nah, my friend is coming.

Only their friend was not really coming. Not right then, anyway. And the two people sitting at the bar only had one drink each. And then they drank seltzer! And didn’t tip on it. (Which, if I’m being honest, might have had something to do with the fact that I had told her she couldn’t save a seat for her incredibly tardy friend.) So that’s another thing. Don’t occupy a seat at the bar for like 4 hours and only drink seltzer! I mean, whatever, occupy the seat, but do like my friend Cherie does when she drinks seltzer and tip on your soda! Don’t be that guy at the coffee shop who occupies a table for like 5 hours and drinks one cup of coffee. No one likes that guy. That guy is a dick.

And here’s another thing. No one likes to be all packed in like sardines at a bar. I understand that. That is why I don’t hang out in busy bars. I work in them; I do not hang out in them. Busy bars are awful when you don’t have a giant slab of wood protecting you from the masses. And even when you do have that lab of wood they sometimes suck. And so I understand the desire that some people have to make a space around them by saving a seat with their backpack for no reason whatsoever other than to keep someone else from elbowing them. But the thing is, that’s rude. It is rude to other people who are stuck standing so your backpack can take a load off, and it’s rude to me who wants to make money off the seat your backpack is occupying. So unless you want to pay rent on two stools by tipping me double on every drink you have, put your bag on the floor or on one of the hooks conveniently located under the bar for just such an occasion. Or! Be one of those people who travels with their own hook! I always admire the foresight of those people.

So yeah, I don’t know, guys. I guess it all comes down to respect. Respect the fact that the bar only exists if people buy things, and your missing friend and your backpack do not buy things. Respect the fact that under the current system I can only survive if you tip me and, again, your missing friend and your backpack don’t tip me. And respect the fact that you are not, in fact, the only person in the universe. There are other people here, too. People who aren’t missing or an inanimate object that you use as a means of conveyance. Other people who want to go out, have fun, drink drinks, watch games and, yes, even sit down on a bar stool. So please, let them sit.