The rush of the night hits. I’m singing I Fought the Law while slinging a hula hoop around my waist and juggling five burning cats. We’re talking slam time, baby.
The time of night when sheer volume fills the tip jar with glorious fat wads of greenery. I’m pouring the PBRs and Bombing the Cars, I’m making the martinis and kicking out the Kerosini (Tuaca).
After taking his sweet time figuring out what he wants to drink, the man in the $100 tie pays for his beer. It’s $3.75, he pays with a fiver, his change is $1.25. He picks up the money and turns to leave. He stops, turns around, tosses the quarter on the bar and gives me a look like Dave Hasselhoff winking at a retard.
Down at the other end of the bar there’s a guy in a flannel shirt and cut-off jeans. He efficiently orders the same beer. $3.75, he pays with a ten. Like anyone else in the business I give his change back in the form of six ones and a quarter. He says thank you, leaves a $3 tip and, just to prove he’s a cool, cool cat, he keeps his fucking quarter. Now, the next time both of these guys belly up to the bar, which one am I going to serve first? Bingo! My Main Man in Flannel wins over Cherry Creek Chump Change every time. I’m going to give Mr. Flannel extra attention and if Glue Pocket over there really wants some service I’ll call my Grandma down, give her a shot of whiskey and instruct her to kick him in the balls. Quarter tips . . . do I really look like I need another piece of bubblegum? Just like waiters, waitresses, bussers, barbacks and valets, bartenders pay their bills and buy their beer with money that comes from tips. Your ability to get a drink at their bar even when it is the absolute busiest is determined mainly by your tipping etiquette.
The guy who’s been under a car all day and looks like someone lit him on fire slides past a row of suits and gets his beer right after he walks in. The stiffs who don’t tip and have been unable to get a drink in the melee of the Happy Hour mob stand there stupefied: “Why did he get served and not us . . . we were here first, man.” Because, dumbass, you suck and can’t tip. And while we’re talking about sucking, never ever under any circumstances whatsoever ask a bartender for a free drink. If you’ve got it coming, it’ll be there. If you ask for it, you’ve violated his or her sacred trust and you’re back to square one. If you tip well, order with a smile and it never arrives . . . suck it up pal, this isn’t fucking Russia. Besides, you’ve already gotten your reward. Tipping well has ensured priority service for the rest of the night so your precious time before last call isn’t wasted jumping up and down like a cheerleader who has to pee. Plus, when a bartender is getting quarters all night and you come through with the crispy cash, you also get the unsung honor of being their light in the darkness. Amidst an onslaught of slimy boneheads you’re a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air, a ray of go1den sunshine. Nice work, baby!