Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's just money in a jar...right?

Or maybe it's not.

Maybe there's another reason for a person taking a dollar, or two, or three out of their wallet, and putting it into my tip jar. And although I'll never really know the science behind tipping, I've begun to understand that it's not as simple as I once thought it to be.

I'll start with the average person's idea of a tip: the basic tip. Customer(s) orders a drink, I make it for them, they drop a buck in the tip jar, everybody's happy. I appreciate this kind of tip the most, simply because the customer clearly acknowledges my role in their quest for whatever night they're trying to have. They realize that I'm not standing there simply for their viewing pleasure, but in fact have a purpose! Unfortunately, I realized rather quickly that the "basic tip" concept had to be modified. There is an upper limit for a "basic tip." For example, if a guy purchases a $3 beer that only requires me removing the cap and leaves me more than a dollar in my tip jar, then it starts to get complicated. Typically, if people tip, they leave approximately 20% of the drink price. Most customers round up from sixty cents on a three dollar beer to a one dollar tip. But leaving more than that? That's grounds for my next kind of tip.

The ulterior motive tip is shady. This is when people leave me an abnormally high tip on a drink that did not warrant it. This kind of tip is usually left by the single men that are stupid enough to think that they can pick up the bartender. Every weekend it baffles me that men think that highly of themselves to believe that I will drop everything in my life, (including leaving my husband,) to date them. I've noticed that there is a strategy that comes along with leaving the "ulterior motive tip." Usually, they'll begin the evening tipping with the "basic tip." After scoping out the female situation in the club and they realize that there's no one to their liking, that's when they come back to me and ask me my name. They'll order a beer, or a mixed drink and tip about 50% of the cost, shoot me a smile, and say "thanks, Ally," making sure I heard that they got my name down. They'll come back several more times throughout the night, increasing the amount they tip exponentially, (I haven't determined if this is a symptom of mere intoxication or stupidity,) and finally go in for the kill about an hour before closing time. I get asked out, he gets told I'm married, he feels dumb, drunk and broke, I go home happy with his money.

Now, I'm not trying to scare men away from picking up women at clubs. It happens all the time. Some go home happy, some don't. For the guys whom are successful at getting females to dance all night, there are a few who end up having problems around 1AM when they realize that they bought a particular female way too much alcohol, and don't want to be responsible for her puking all over the place, falling down, or forgetting her underwear...somewhere. This is when they come to see me. I call this one the get me out of here tip. Usually, they bring the girl to the bar with them and order her water. They typically keep drinking alcohol...because, well...who wants to remember dealing with that mess? Now for the really interesting part! Similar to the "ulterior motive tip," I get way more put into my tip jar than the drink is worth. But this poor guy doesn't want to hit on me...he wants me to give him an out to get away from the girl who's playing with the saliva running down the side of her mouth! I'll admit, I helped a guy out once by telling him that he had left his headlights on just so he could get away from a woman. He's currently one of my regulars, and continues to tip me well on a weekly basis.

Finally, now for the kind I hate the most...the pity tip. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I've had to deal with drunk people ruining my bar set up by knocking down cups, spilling my margarita salt everywhere, spilling their drinks before they even taste them, being loud and obnoxious, and worst of all...blocking the front of my bar so that other customers can't get through. Now, the "pity tip" can come from one of two types of customers. The first would be a friend of the guy/girl who is being a pain in my ass. They are usually the designated driver, and they usually leave a nice chunk of change behind by the end of the night as their way of saying, "I'm sorry you had to deal with my drunk-ass friend." I welcome this type of pity tip because their friends are being responsible, and are aware that their friend(s) are acting like 4 year-olds, with the exception of excessive swearing and air-humping. The second way the "pity tip" can be given is by an OBSERVING customer. Sometimes others will be standing at the bar and witness other people being rowdy. Many times I've been slipped an extra couple of bucks because they feel bad that I'm a bartender. Now granted, money is money. But if I didn't want to be a bartender, I would have stayed at home. Don't give me money just because you think I could be doing something better with my time!

Clearly, I have thought about the science behind tipping way too much. However, it has helped me become a better bartender. Reading people is 80% of the job, and that is why I'm going to be a fabulous counselor in the future!

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