I recently began a job bartending. It's fun work, I get to meet a lot of people, and I keep forgetting to pick up my paychecks because I'm walking home from work every night with $80 (give or take $10, generally) in my pocket. I get these tips because I work my ass off keeping the bar neat and organized so I can serve a drink quickly, I'm friendly with the patrons and joke with them, and I do more than just ask their order and bugger off. I like to go that extra mile for the job because frankly, it pays.
I mean, seriously. My tips are easily twice what the other guy gets, because he comes in and does his time before leaving. I don't think he even remembers the names of all the bar's regulars, let alone the people who stop in once every week or so... and god help him if you put a gun to his head to make him remember a regular's favourite drink.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mind people who don't tip well all the time. I've had some people come in and only tip 5% or so on their bill because they were students or whatever. I've been there. I remember all too clearly earning seven bucks an hour for my labour in an industry where I'm not expected to be supplemented by tips, so I occasionally had to leave a smaller gratuity than I otherwise would have of only so I could actually afford bus fare.
People who don't tip don't bother me, either. No offence to anybody, but most beer drinkers I know (aside from those who drink Guinness) don't bother with tips. All I'm doing is opening a cap on their bottle and handing them a glass. It's not exactly complex. These kinds of people generally don't expect stellar service. They want a pint glass which isn't visibly dirty and their beers to be anything but flat.
Now, If someone doesn't tip me, I don't bother to give them special treatment. I'll do my job where they're concerned. I'll clear their tables promptly, and maybe treat 'em to a joke or two, but when it comes to socializing I'll stick to the people who'll drop twenty bucks on an eighty dollar tab, since they all laugh at my jokes the same and the ones who pay up are more deserving, since they're the ones keeping me in the mood to tell 'em.
So anyways, a redheaded lady walks into the bar night before last with three friends, and they're all dressed in business clothing. The bar I work in isn't exactly a hole in the wall, but it's not top-end, either, (Think of a Firkin pub and you'll get a rough idea of the atmosphere) so I'm wiggling like a puppy at the expensive suits and the expensive accessories, like the Jaguar keychain which went with the Jaguar parked outside. I go all out with these people. I serve them personally and delegate my regulars to the server on duty, their drinks are given top priority, I'm whisking away glasses and giving them refills before they feel thirsty again, and keeping them smiling brilliantly with the best of my jokes. They're having a blast, and I overheard the redheaded lady tell the other "This server is fantastic!"
And they're drinking deluxe premium cocktails, which are all roughly eight bucks a pop. They do seven rounds like this throughought the night, with the occasional shooters tossed in for good measure, capped off with a spectacular meal by our resident cook.
End of the night, after sitting in the bar for four hours and being entertained the hell out of, the lady in the lead asks me for the bill. I give her the bill, and she hands it back to me with a Visa Gold Card to pay for the tab, which approached nearly four hundred dollars.
For those of you who aren't quick with math, the STANDARD expected gratuity weighs in at sixty bucks, and I didn't exactly do a standard job of them. I'd actually ignored my other patrons to a degree that night, expecting that the fifty bucks I lost in normal tip earnings with the decent (but not spectacular) job would be more than recouped by this massive bill and the expectedly massive tip.
In my minds eye, I was seeing a seventy five dollar tip, at the least. I did a fantastic friggin' job, and the tab wasn't exactly small... not to mention all the special drinks I mixed and the lengths I went to to make the presentation on the drinks just right. I'd guess that roughly half the work I did that night not involved in general bar upkeep was devoted to their table alone, and I was serving a crowd of roughly fifteen to twenty people the whole night through.
So I give her the bill back with the credit card reciept attached, and go off to the bar to do some busywork while I give her time to sign the bill and decide on my tip. After about four minutes, I go back and take the bill, and see she's elected to collect a cash pool for the tip.
They gave me a twenty dollar tip, which worked out to a grand spanking gratuity of 5%... and I had to give the cook a quarter of the tip for the meal, which left me with a gratuity of less than 4%.
Now, I always judge how I treat customers on the percentage of the gratuity they leave me, not the dollar amount. A twenty dollar tip on an eighty dollar bill is more than I normally expect, but a 10% gratuity is barely worth my time. A gratuity of 3.X%, especially on a bill like that, means that the server gets the lady next time she's in. I spent all that time keeping the ladies smiling because I wanted a decent tip, not because I liked the way they looked in professionally tailored dresses.
I don't say anything about it, but after they leave I'm hoping not to see 'em in my bar again. Behavior like that isn't to be encouraged, frankly... So of course, she comes back again tonight at six in the evening with two friends from last night. I send the server over, who goes to them. They talk with the server for a moment and then she comes back, a frown on her face.
"They want to be served by you."
A little corner of my mind snapped at this. They wanted me to personally serve them after I get a measly $20 tip from a group of four people who'd spent hours in my bar? I tell the server to tell them I'm too busy to personally serve everyone who comes in, and then make a point of doing nothing more than working a stubborn grenadine stain on the bar with my rag for the next five minutes, save when I need to serve someone else. I don't even look at them for a second.
My regulars, a few older ladies from the jewellry store across the street and a few of the guys I used to do construction with, all knew I was putting on an act for these people by this point, since I'd told them to watch with a grin on my face as soon as these ladies walked back into my bar, so they've got anticipation written all over 'em.
As I'm working the grenadine stain, I catch a hint of movement in the corner of my eye, and I see the redheaded lady from last night, decked out in a different, but equally expensive business-suit.
"What are you doing?" Not quite angry yet, but confusion is clear.
"Trying to get rid of this pesky grenadine stain." I don't even spare her a second glance as I go back to work. "I don't have much better to do... It's dead in here."
"Why not come serve us?" Because I'm not stupid enough to fall for that ploy, you dumb cunt. She's put a challenge into her voice with this latest query.
"Nah. I wanna get rid of this stain." Again, I don't even look in her direction, though I can see in the corner of my eye that she's crossed her arms under her breasts in a way that must have oozed power to those people she did business with.
"What, afraid you couldn't entertain us like you did last night?" Another transparent tactic, and good got was it getting on my nerves. Did this woman have ANY respect for my intelligence? Was she going to try 'I don't want to be served by you anymore!' next? I stop rubbing the bar to look her in the face.
"My dear lady, I could control your merrity as easily as a flautist controls her the passage of breath to moving music," I mentally bet that the look on her face means she doesn't know what a flautist is as opposed to merely being surprised I know the word, and promptly win when she mouthes it silently, "But frankly you don't interest me. The server will take your order."
"But I want you to take my order." Now she looks like she's going to sulk.
"But I don't particularly care to serve you personally." I reply, going back to the grenadine stain, which appears to finally be giving way to the application of brute force. "Like I said, the server can do it. I'm still going to be making the drinks, so it'll all taste the same on your end."
"It won't be as fun." She declared. Ah, we're finally getting to the heart of the matter, and now she's finally beginning to see I can't be tricked or manipulated into it.
"Of course it won't be." I say, grinning to myself as the stain finally comes out, leaving the wooden expanse of my bar once again pristine. I set the bar rag down and turn to look at the woman again, leaning against the bar. "Mandy here has six tables to deal with at present, and I'm afraid her sense of humour isn't quite as well tuned as my own, but that's a regrettable lapse of which I've been trying to rid her."
"Why won't you serve us, then?" The crux of the matter! My god, it only took her eight minutes to stop beating around the bush!
"Well, it's a simple matter, really. Christmas is coming, and I've not yet done my shopping, so I'll be gracing those people with the inclination to tip well with good cheer and humour. You, you get Mandy and your drinks served promptly." I cross my arms. "My lady, I devoted much of my time and energy last night doing a spectacular job of serving you... and unfortunately I can't repeat the performance tonight while earning enough money to buy nice Christmas gifts for my friends, so I regret I'm going to have to neglect you this evening."
"Even if I tip well like I did last night?"
"That's the thing, you didn't. I worked for you for four hours last night entertaining four people. Let's break that up into a per hour figure. For the entertainment I brought to your table and the speed and skill I applied to the creation of your drinks, I got five bucks an hour. I can get five bucks an hour serving beer without a smile. I can get five bucks an hour from any table in this room for a lot less work than I'd have to do to get the same out of you."
"What if I told you I'd triple your tip from last time?"
"I'd tell you that's standard gratuity and still not worth all the effort I tossed into you and your friends night before last." I shrugged. "My mind's made up about this. You're welcome to stay all night, but I'm not going to serve you."
So she dropped the smile and left. I'm sure the snickers from my regulars helped her decision to leave right along.
I finished my shift at eight o'clock and went over to a friend's place for beer, wings, and video games. I just got back twenty minutes ago with a message on my machine from my boss, asking me to explain why he's got a complaint from a woman claiming she spent four hundred dollars and got horrible service.