Tag Archives: TIPS

Tip #21 on Being a Good Bar Customer

28 Mar

Wow you guys. I haven’t written one of these since this one back in August of 2016, and that one included positive reinforcement. I know they were a popular part of my blog, but almost getting fired over writing them sort of took the shine off the whole thing, you know? Well, whatever. That was then and this is now. And I still don’t actually think I did anything wrong, as long as you don’t consider hurting the feelings of a couple of arrogant, misogynist assholes “something wrong.” I certainly don’t. So, that being said, let us continue.

So this post is a lot less about someone actually doing something awful and a lot more about one of my biggest pet peeves as a bartender. And it’s not just me! I did a (very limited) survey of some of the bartenders that I know and discovered that this is a pet peeve shared by all two of them! So I will extrapolate this data and apply it to all other bartenders and voila! I declare this pet peeve universally held. What is the pet peeve, you may ask? Let me tell you a little story.

So there I am, behind the bar. A new customer walks in. I greet him with a peppy(ish)

Hey! How are you?

as I reach over, grab a coaster and toss it in front of him. He replies that he is okay, takes his phone out of his pocket, puts it down, takes his seat and orders his drink. I make the drink, engaging in polite conversation as I do it. But then when I return to his seat and make a move to put his drink on the coaster that I have placed in front of him in preparation for this exact moment I realize it’s gone. But I swear that I put it there. I always put down a coaster. That’s part of the whole steps of service thing that I am so accustomed to. So where could it be? And then I see it: his phone. He has put it on the coaster. And I am immediately reminded of the hundreds and hundreds of times this exact scenario has played itself out over the past decade and change during which I have occupied space behind the stick.

And I am left wondering, why? Why do people do this? Do they have coasters on their coffee tables that they use as resting places for their phones while they watch TV, placing their beer or whisky on the rocks directly on the wood, potentially leaving a ring? Do they always have two coasters present, one for the phone and one for the drink, just so that their phone doesn’t some how feel less welcome? Do they enjoy constantly wiping up small puddles of condensation that has accumulated on their surfaces? Is this just a small expression of their concern for the environment, and their worry of our ever-expanding landfills and its effects on the planet that we call home? Am I missing something?

I am also left standing there with a prepared drink and no pre-placed (and available) coaster upon which to place it. What is a bartender to do? Well, there are a number of different possible next steps.

  1. Shrug your shoulders and place the drink directly on the bar;
  2. Grab a new coaster, toss it either casually or angrily next to the original coaster (this is entirely dependent on the bartender’s mood and/or the number of times she has faced this exact same scenario that shift), and place the drink atop its new throne;
  3. Reach down, grab the phone (AKA coaster stealer), move it and then place the drink down on the original coaster all while making eye contact with the customer;
  4. Place the drink on top of the phone which has now become the de facto coaster after its successful ouster of the previous coaster which was not fairly elected in the first place.

Personally, I oscillate between options 2 and 3. They are direct and instructive (two things I love being!) all without putting myself at risk of an accusation of destruction of property even though, really, putting your phone on the bar is pretty dumb.* One of the two people I surveyed for this post recently made use of option 4 and told me that although it didn’t go over that well in the moment (PSA: no phone was harmed in the placing of the drink) it is pretty funny in hindsight. He doesn’t, however, recommend that particular course of action for the faint of heart. So, I don’t know, maybe I will leave that for the blessed day that I work my last ever bartending shift. Which will probably never happen. Whatever, a girl can dream.

And, while I’m dreaming, you can journey around my blog and read all the previous tip as well as all the other random shit I write about. It’ll be fun (and sometimes infuriating). But mostly fun. I swear.

*I do it all the time.

What’s Up with the Kids These Days?

13 Jan

I am sure that many of us who have spent time in the service industry have had some variation of the following conversation that I had just this past weekend with my coworker, who I will call “B.”

Me: Man, what is with these tourists not tipping?
B: I know, right?
Me: I mean, when I go traveling I buy the book! And then I read the book! And I especially read the part about tipping customs so I am not inadvertently an asshole and then when it says “it is not customary to tip” I say “fuck that nonsense, I’m doing it anyway!” How do they not know?!
B: Oh, they know. They just think they can get away with not knowing. It’s fucked.

I am, like B, quite convinced that most of them know. I mean, how could they not? It’s in all the books. It’s on all the internets. It’s on all the checks when they get auto-gratted because it is such a common problem that restaurants have to put a practice in place to make sure that their staff gets compensated. Maybe it’s like a game they play. A cruel, cruel game. They want to see when they can get away with (1) not tipping and (2) not being auto-gratted and then they write back to all their friends and are like

“We have found the spot! We have found the spot where we can eat our food, poo-poo the wine, AND not pay for the service!”

Those places are mostly in midtown.

Maybe I am exaggerating. But the thing about foreign tourists specifically is that if this was all intentional it was sort of genius. Because now when people order from me with certain accents I assume I won’t be getting a tip. But then when they tip me… woah! It’s like, the best thing. I am so happy about the tip! I even go over to my coworker and I do a little dance and I’m like

“Look! Look! A tip!”

Maybe it’s that all the foreign tourists got together and picked straws and whoever chose the small straws get to be the tip fairies and make bartenders and servers the country over jump with joy when the unthinkable happens. That seems reasonable I think, right? Maybe I’m thinking too much into it. And, in fact, joking around about foreign tip fairies wasn’t even the point. This is the point. In the past few months I have come to the conclusion that the worst tippers, the absolute fucking worst, are (drum roll please) young white kids. What is up with the kids these days, guys?! What has happened?

So, listen, I was a young white kid once and while maybe I didn’t tip then like I tip now (I have been working in service for far too long and tip like I am the richest bartender in Brooklyn) but I always left something, and it was generally 20%. Or, at the very least, a dollar a drink. I didn’t always understand buybacks and so I did have this regretable period in my life where I would visit a friend of mine and he would give me my glass of wine for free and I wouldn’t tip him. But of course, he was trying to sleep with me (which he eventually did) and so I feel less bad about it. In hindsight, not tipping and instead having sex with someone seems like a fair trade (although I didn’t really connect the two together at the time and, now that I am thinking about it, I sort of wish I hadn’t ever connected it because I feel a little bit icky). But also, this happened like 8 years ago so I should probably just let it go. What’s done is done. But this gives you a little insight into me. I still feel bad, and am still trying to wrap my head around making a bad tip decision when I was like 23 and sex was involved!

And I got sidetracked. Again. The point is that a lot of young, white kids these days simply don’t tip. I had one girl give me a hard time because the bar I was behind didn’t accept AmEx and she had just drank two Macallan 12 Year on the rocks ($12 a pop at that establishment) and somehow only had an AmEx (which was bullshit because I peeped at her wallet when she opened it and saw not 1, not 2 but 3 credit cards. I imagine the one she wanted to pay with had her daddy’s name on it). Obviously it was my fault that my bar didn’t accept AmEx cards and so she paid me $24 exactly – she just so happened to have cash – and made some snide remark about how if I had let her use the card she would have tipped better. I wanted to tell her to eat a dick but I refrained. It’s just that, really, I don’t make the rules, I enforce them. Don’t kill (or not compensate financially for an exchange of services that you initiated) the messenger.

And then there was the kid who got a tequila drink of some kind, paid with his card, didn’t tip a dime (and in fact wrote that amazing 0 with the line through it on the tip line) and then had the nerve to come back up to the bar and complain that his drink was weak. It’s not like there as some incident where he thought me or my coworker was being rude and wrote something along the lines of “DISRESPECT!!!” on the tip line (which happened recently and I thought it was funny because it really is disrespectful to not tip and at least this person was self-aware!). No. It wasn’t about that. It was that this dude just simply didn’t tip because it seems as though it is a thing he doesn’t do. Plain and simple. And so this is where I get confused. There aren’t guidebooks for people who grew up in the United States and have spent their lives steeped in tipping culture. I can’t be like

“Yo, mother fucker, check out the section on ‘eating and drinking’ in your Lonely Planet to see the proper way to behave.”

Although in hindsight maybe I should say that. Secretly. To my coworker. So we can giggle.

So the point is this: what is with the kids these days? Who is raising them and where? And why in the world do they simply not tip? I mean, I get it, New York is more expensive than it used to be. Drinks that used to cost $6 four years ago now cost $8. But they don’t know that because they weren’t old enough to drink four years ago. They don’t have a point of comparison. Right now is their point! And I mean, yea, I get that people don’t have money. But you want to know the thing? Neither do I. And you want to know why? Because young, white kids don’t tip.

If anyone has any insight into this particular, and very unfortunate, turn of events, feel free to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com Nice people only, please.

Tip #4 on Being a Good Bar Customer

21 Jan

If you haven’t already and want to, or if you have already and really love them and want to again, you can read Tip #1, Tip #2 and Tip#3 here.  Also, trigger warning, this is a bitter post.  Clearly, 4 days and 4 bar shifts later I am still pissed about this one.

Okay so here’s the thing about bartending.  For the most part, unless you work in a corporate spot or a fancy hotel or something, you don’t actually get paid.  For example, I work 3 days a week, for about 9 hours per shift if you count the time setting up before and cleaning up after.  That means that, for those among us who are math challenged, I work 54 hours every two weeks.  (And in case you were wondering yes, I did pull up my computer calculator to make sure my multiplication was right.  Sad, isn’t it?)  And every two weeks I receive a paycheck for roughly $94.94, give or take.  That means that I make, after taxes, about $1.78 an hour.  I have a pretty cheap living situation and a relatively frugal approach to life, but even I cannot make living on $189.88 a month, or $2278.56 a year, work.  Hence, TIPS.

So, TIPS.  Why do I put it in capital letters?  Because it is actually an acronym (oh, don’t we love those GPIA friends?) which stands for To Insure Proper Service.  It’s sort of like an incentive structure.  The idea is that when you come into a bar, the bartender is not going to burp in your face or spit in your drink because if they do so they will not receive any money on top of the meager hourly wage.  It’s a way for the customer to show his or her appreciation for the level of attention and service as well as the overall quality of the beverage and experience.  This all being said there are some people who don’t leave a gratuity and not for any reason other than the fact that they are assholes.  Let me tell you a story.

So there is this little blonde pipsqueak that comes into the bar sometimes.  (Let it be known that normally I wouldn’t feel the need to mention much about her appearance or stature except that I just think she is such an ass that I cannot help myself.)  She is one of those women who, 20 years from now, will have a mouth pucker as if she has been sucking on a lemon since she came out of the womb.  She has been nothing but  unpleasant every single time she comes into the bar and not just to me, but to other customers and to one of the owners.  One time, for example, she made a huge stink about how I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (actually, it was almond butter and fig preserves but no need to split hairs) behind the bar.  Not in front of her face but off to the side.  She made this face as if I was sitting there with a cat turd sandwich and spitting bits of shit all over her.  Rather than just quietly get up and move to a table or say something like “I’m sorry, not to be rude but I just don’t love the smell of peanut butter so I’m going to sit over there at that table” she gave me a ridiculous stink eye and said, very loudly and dripping with disdain, “UGH!  I just cannot STAND the smell of peanut butter.  I can’t even SIT here.  Gross!”  And shot me a nasty look over her shoulder as she retreated to the corner.  Honestly, if I knew it was that easy to get rid of her I would have brought a PB&J far earlier.

So, yea, she’s a bitch.  Not only is she a bitch but she is also a non-tipper.  I’m not talking like, she orders three drinks and leaves a buck, which is rude and also cheap, but she literally leaves nothing except for the lingering stink of her bad attitude.  This past Thursday she came in and stood right in front of the bar chatting – or should I say bitching loudly – to her friend (does she actually have those?  Incredible.) about something I could really care less about.  I saw she was in the middle of something, I know she is a bitch, so I figured I would walk away for 30-45 seconds, maybe a minute, let her finish up her conversation so I am not imposing but also not make her wait long enough that she gets all huffy about the bad service which, honestly, is the only level of service she deserves.  I came back to where she was standing and said, in as sweet a voice I could muster (I got confirmation that I was nothing but nice.  Maybe I have a career in acting in my future?),

“Hey ladies, can I get you anything?”

She looked at me, looked back at her friend, rolled her eyes and spat,

“Ugh.  I guess I’ll have a Jack and Coke.”

Okay, so first of all, it’s not like I was out of line interrupting her.  She was standing at the bar.  If what she was talking about was so important, why didn’t she just stand a little further away from the bar, signalling to me that she was planning on ordering a drink but wasn’t ready just at that moment.  Also, why the attitude?  Whatever.  I made her drink, brought it back over and said,

“That’ll be seven dollars, please.”

She reached into her wallet, took out exactly seven dollars, a 5 dollar bill and two singles, dropped them on the bar and walked away.  No thank you. No smile.  No tip.   Fine, whatever.  I walked over to my boss and friend (same person!  Ain’t I lucky?), and was like

“Bitch didn’t even tip.  What is her deal??”

To which my boss responded,

“Oh, her?  Please, she never tips.”

The night continues.  Little pipsqueak decides she needs another drink and orders two things from my boss because this time she was ready THE SECOND SHE WALKED UP TO THE BAR AND GOD FORBID SHE HAD TO WAIT MORE THAN 5 SECONDS WHILE I MADE A DRINK FOR SOMEONE ELSE which, together, added up to $11.  We have a $12 minimum on credit cards (I know, it’s illegal, blah blah blah shut up I’ve heard it before) but usually when people get close to the minimum like that we let it slide because we are nice and accommodating and when you do nice things for people they remember and come back and that’s good for you and the bar.  Double win.  So, the girl left the tab open.  About an hour later she decided she couldn’t possibly stay a second longer and had to close her tab right then.  Upon seeing that I was, again, doing my job and making drinks for other people because (a) that’s how I make my money and (b) it was a Thursday night and sort of busy, she did a huge eye roll and said, not muttered,

“Ugh, seriously?”

(I got confirmation of said utterance from an observing customer who was a neutral party.)  My boss noticed the pipsqueak, notice her stankface, and swept in to run her card for her.  She went, in my opinion, above and beyond the call of duty and ran the pipsqueak’s card for the $11 total, rather than adding the one buck to reach the minimum.  Upon relating to the girl that she had in essence done her a favor the girl looked at her, did not smile, and then said,

“Oh, well in that case I’ll tip you.”

Okay, I’m sorry what?!  Seriously bitch, what is your damage?  Who says something like that?  Not tipping is bad enough, but lording your tip money over someone is just so incredibly rude and unwarranted.  I mean, if I were one of her “friends” I would be so massively embarassed to go anywhere with her that involved being served by someone.  I mean, I serve but I am by no means a servant and I am also a human being and a relatively smart one at that so maybe you should check yourself.  Also, you had better believe that I am planning on telling each and every one of my co-workers about this just so that there is never a buyback given, not ever, not once.  I am vindictive and I hold grudges.  Get ready for it, pipsqueak.

So here’s the thing.  Tipping is obviously better than not tipping, especially when the service you get is good.  But not tipping does not necessarily make you an asshole, it just makes you uneducated to the appropriate ways to behave when you are in a social environment involving a bartender, a server or any other manner of person helping you between your current state, without food or drink, and the state you aspire to be in, drinking and/or eating something delicious.  There is never an excuse for being an asshole when you are treated like a human being.  Ever.  So, if you don’t tip and are nice, I will forgive you although I won’t give you things for free.  If you don’t tip and are an asshole, or if you don’t tip and then make a huge fucking statement about how you are tipping on the rare occasion that you do so in order to make it known that you are an entitled, cheap fuck, then you should never leave your house and you certainly shouldn’t come into my bar.

And so, to the pipsqueak, I would like to let you know that the other day on my way to work I saw you and your boyfriend (who is also an asshole, for those who are wondering) I was about halfway to tripping you so you fell right on your face and crushed your hand under your comically large law book but I decided to be the bigger person.  So, you’re welcome.