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
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!