Friday, December 4, 2009

Bartering For Tips

I always enjoy bartending. The people you meet….the drinks you mix…the money you make…from tips.

I’m pretty good at chatting with people; they tend to like me. This comes in very handy when it comes to getting paid in (almost) direct proportion to how well you can chat someone up. This might sound to some a little unsavory, but consider:

The drinks are free; they aren’t paying for them anyway.

Our normal cliental aren’t ones to drink alone. They want someone to chat with, to make them feel more comfortable. That is where I come in.

Tipping is really the payment for non-corporeal services. Every time you go to a restaurant, get your hair cut, or get a drink at the bar, you pay set rates for the product you get. The tip is to pay for the thoughtfulness of the server going beyond what they had to; giving you that smile, the bartender remembering you to actually see if you want something else. The hairdresser for letting you talk about your life and acting like she’s actually interested.

But here’s the thing with me. As long as you’re not an incredible boor, I am interested.

At least, I want to know more. I have figured this is just a basic quest for knowledge. I like to know things, to find things out. This is why all these stories exist in the first place. Recall the conversation I had with the coworker upon the conclusion of the artist? (you come to my room and I paint you reeel good). I’ll refresh your memory: “RedGirl, you’ve got to stop getting into conversations with these people. One day, it's going to get you into trouble.”

I will admit she had a point, but where’s the fun in safety like that? That’s right, not a whole lot. Plus, I've already seen the trouble that comes, and in most instances, is tot-ally worth it. The point is, people can tell that I really am interested. They don’t realize why I’m interested (ie, not in them personally, but stuff people have to tell me in general), just that I am. This means my harvest is rife with juicy personal details.

But every now and again, I get someone I don’t know what to do with.

Let’s call her Lorna.

Lorna is an older woman with skinny bird legs, but with enough up top to weigh normally for her height. Upon this woman, put eye-searingly short pink shorts. Now place in sun for 50ish years and let bake to a golden brown. Yes folks, she makes the person who invented tanning wants to put a legal limit on the darkest you can get and still apply that adjective to yourself.

Not only did she bring up the two “death topics” (religion and politics) in a badgering fashion with my only other tipping person, but she had a tendency to ignore the current line of conversations with a completely random question. You need an example you say? Of course I will oblige you!

Current conversation is with the man about his sons and where they were attending various colleges and how they were considering the college where I live. At the smallest possible lull (more of a pause to draw breath, really), she says in a loud voice straight at him “What do you think of the bill the senate passed last week?”

Man: Pretends to watch the football game on TV and therefore *didn’t* hear what she said.

Lorna: swivels head to me, making it clear the question is now all mine.

Me: doesn’t want to get into that, makes some weak laughter. “heh heh….well, I know I should read the news more. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that.” Unspoken…and I don’t want you to tell me about it either...

Fast forward to the next evening. I am again doing double duty--bar and front desk. As I pour her the *first* drink, she yanks out a plastic bag and sets it on the bar. Out of the bag, Lorna pulls a small tray-like object with tall sides. It is filled with vegetables and covered with plastic wrap.

Lorna: I want you to have this.

Me:'s lovely!

Lorna: I thought the colors were pretty. I got them from the (local organic grocery store) for you.

Me: Thank you...what kinds of peppers are those? (trying to think of think)

Lorna: Oh I don't know. I just picked them for the colors.

Then she pulls out another bag. This one is from Borders.

Lorna: I bought some books on their bargain rack. Look at this cookbook! (hands me cookbook)

Me: (I take it, leaf through it trying to think of something nice to say) It has some nice lamb recipes...

Lorna: Do you want it?

Me: (aack!) Well, I--

Lorna: Oh, take it. I want you to have it!

Me: I couldn't (I'm not a fan of "southern cooking" in general...too much fried food)

Lorna: I insist!

Me: Okaay...

So. Point here. I (as is my usual custom) tell the story around the workplace. One person's response "Maybe you'll get a fruit basket tonight! Hahahaha!"

Yeah. Thanks.

But that did bring to mind the thought of putting out a list of what acceptable tender is for tipping. So far, my list includes:

Pounds of Whole Bean coffee (no flavored please, French Roast preferred)
Coupons for free taxi rides
Border's Gift card
Folding chair
Thick homemade quilt
Vodo Bunny
Actual MONEY

We shall see I suppose.


lifeshighway said...

I wanted one of those bunnies too! Only I wasn't feeling clever that day your sister was having her contest.

But you are clever every day so someone better ante up with a bunny.

Also I think one of your peppers is a pumpkin? But granted the colors are very nice.

Jenna Lynn said...

Return the book and GET money silly :)

Carolyn said...

Sorta looks like an heirloom tomato to me. You may lick one just to see and it might take the top of your curly red head off.

Funder said...

Being a good listener (like by being a bartender) makes people want to open up and tell you about themselves. And people are so much weirder than you'd ever think! I love hearing all the truly strange stories people tell me about themselves.

Sadly, I've never gotten vegetables. And if you ever wanted to cook southern, you could do so much better than the book - ugh.

redgirl said...

I would return it..but I think you need a receipt (believe it or not, I *did* consider that)
People had better ante up though... even the wildest things almost seem commonplace now *sigh*

Anonymous said...

could be worse..... the only thing my people give me is religious tracts and a new strain of the flu

Mel said...

I'm already making Loreleigh a I am suppose to make TWO bunnies before xmas? Much funner to give them away on my blog. People are less demanding that way.

Lifeshighway - keep trying; my goal is to give bunnies to ALL my readers who want one so I'll find a way! :)

redgirl said...

I am a reader.
I want one.
Give away!!!