Sunday 23 Oct 2016

About that Tip
AJ Robinson

Ah, that good old Bill, he sure could turn a phrase. I wish I were half the writer he was. I can flip open any of his plays or works and find a great line.

This one, “Far Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth, is from his great line about ungrateful children. Well, I don’t have one of those. My daughter is very grateful and I for her. What I find far sharper is something else entirely and it’s not a child or even a family member.

I refer to an ungrateful customer.

I know that might seem odd. After all, who expects real gratitude from a customer? All you want is to provide them with what they want, for them pay you and part company, as they go, you hope, happily on their way.

Yeah, that’s the normal process. When you work in a tipped position, there’s a little more to it. Yes, my glamorous day job is that of a bartender.

It’s a good. I enjoy it. I get to meet people from literally all over the world, we get to chat and I get to help them, either with a drink, something to eat, directions or suggestions, or, in the classic bartender tradition, by listening to their problems.

Most people are very nice about leaving me a little extra for my troubles. In fact, some are incredibly generous. Some are not generous and it amazes me how cold some folks are.

Just the other day, I had a customer that blew me away. I spent a number of minutes guiding a woman through the entire menu. I got her food order, quite a few items and some of them required modifications; then there were the drinks. Again, she wanted a wide variety of drinks, frozen, on the rocks and non-alcoholic smoothies for the kids. The bill came to quite an amount and she paid with a hundred dollar bill. I counted back her change; she pocketed it, and walked away.

I didn’t even get a thank you. Ouch!

Now, for some people, I can almost give them a pass, almost. When they ask for a beer, draft or can, it does appear as if I don’t do much: pull the lever or pop the can. My dear customers, note the word, appear.

Let me tell you everything that goes into that simple beer. I have to haul that beer, both cans and kegs, in front the fridge in the back, store them in the back room, in another fridge that I’m responsible to keep clean, and stock the bar cooler, again, which I keep clean, every day. That one little beer goes on quite the journey from storage to your hand and I do all the work.

The pot cooks the meal, but the plate gets the credit.

All people see is the result. They don’t think about what goes into providing them with what they desire. The next time you ask for a can of beer or something on draft, think about all the steps some poor bartender or server had to go through to get it for you.

All I ask is that you tip accordingly. After all, one of the dollars of your change might not be much to you, but it represents a rather large portion of my daily income. I know you can afford it. I’ve gotten dollar tips from eight year olds just for giving them a strawberry smoothie or chocolate shake. Ah, now those are the tips I truly relish, those are good kids with good parents.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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