I’m sure at some point any one of us has seen those mega-viral posts from servers or bartenders where a guest has left them a tip that changes their life. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve often gone into work and had an interaction with a guest that left me wondering if today was my day.
What I like about bartending over regular serving is that you have more time to interact with your guests. This has lead to both some really wonderful and really awkward experiences. For the most part, my interactions are mostly positive and I enjoy chatting with folks.
While I’ve yet to have anyone leave a life-changing tip on my bar, I certainly do well for myself and my awkward charm is usually enough to warrant a higher than 20% tip now and then. I’ve been tipped the bill once or twice (this is when you tip the total cost of your bill in case that terminology is confusing). The best tip I ever got while bartending was $100 on a $75 check. The young couple has hung out for a few hours chatting and whatnot and were a lot of fun. I was floored by the generosity and it certainly made my night.
But then there’s the other server posts that also tend to hit viral status. The ones where a guest is so rude or vial towards a service employee and they get blasted on the internet.
Those I have some experience in.
I’ve had my fair share of terrible guests both as a server and a bar tender. I’ve written a bit about them here but not too much. While my companies social media policy doesn’t forbid us from posting and writing about work- there are some limitations and I’d rather not straddle that line of what is and isn’t acceptable.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I have been writing those stories down and I’m either going to release them as a book in the future or they’ll all end up as blog posts once I’m no longer working in the service industry. Maybe both.
At any rate, I’ve had my fair share of absolutely miserable guests but last night managed to strike a nerve with me. This week Monday was my Friday and I was exhausted. I clocked in with 40 hours already under my belt and spent 90% of my night in overtime. Which sounds exciting until you realize that overtime for tipped employees just barely becomes minimum wage for real people.
Despite being exhausted, I found myself to be in a pretty decent mood. The shift started off pretty slow but with some good guests coming to the bar and hanging out. The night took a turn and just got busy but it wasn’t anything overly horrible. There were just an OBSCENE amount of to-go orders and I was back and forth between my guests, putting together to-go orders and keeping up with the service well.
By time the rush dies down I was ready to call it quits but we still had an hour and a half left in the night. I started my closing work but kept getting interrupted by to-go orders. They seriously wouldn’t stop coming and it was driving me insane. I realized more and more that getting out right at closing time was not going to happen. The dream was there but it was dying slowly.
At about ten after ten a young woman came and sat at the bar. I was annoyed and my good-mood had pretty much left the building. The smiley and laughy Josh has made his Irish-goodbye and just wanted it to be done. The girl was soon joined by some friends- enough people to guarantee that I was going to fall even further behind on getting stuff done.
It was obvious that they had been drinking already and the one woman in the group revealed that they had come from EPCOT.
They weren’t overly terrible to start but I really wasn’t in the mood and was annoyed (as any server/bartender would be) that they had come in so late and were clearly in the mood to hang out and have fun.
I was in the mood to go home but I kept my customer service face on and entertained them with my (now) dry wit.
While most of the group was fine and dandy with the joking around, one was being a bit of a baby about the whole thing. His friends were ribbing on him and he was annoyed. While I was trying to get a drink order from yet another joiner to the party, Mr. Grumpy Gills made a comment about me under his breath. I didn’t fully hear it and I ignored him.
They wanted to order food so I went through the motions of checking with everyone on whether they wanted food. Grump was staring off into the middle distance.
“Space case, did you want to order anything.”
He ignored me. I looked at his friend seated next to him and shrugged, “guess not.”
Then Grumpy Gills was paying attention. “The fuck you say?”
I was taken aback and just kind of looked at him. I shook my head a moved on. In an effort to diffuse the situation, a few of the friends cracked some jokes, one commenting, “maybe you guys should take this outside.”
Grumpy Gills was not amused and shouted, “I ain’t going outside with his flamboyant ass. Fuck this asshole the customer service here is fucking shit.”
I moved on to the joiner and fully turned myself away from Grumpy Gills, “anything for you.”
“Faggot has eyes for you now bro.”
Is this really what we’re doing today? Is this really how my night is going to end? Happy Monday to me.
I brought them their food and their checks and made it very clear that it was time to leave.
The others were clearly embarrassed by the whole situation and further tried to diffuse it. I was more tired than upset and really just wanted them to leave so that I could leave. My co-worker was actually more upset by the whole thing than I was. I should have been but I was so damn tired and, frankly, I’ve been called worse.
I swiped their cards and gave them their checks. As soon as I dropped them I left the bar and waited for them to leave. I didn’t want any more awkward small talk and I wasn’t going to offer the customary send off expected of your friendly barkeep.
When I returned and grabbed their checks, I noticed that what Grumpy Gills wrote on the tip line was not a tip.
In that moment I weighed my options. I very easily could have snapped and posted a picture to post online and let the world have their way with this kid but, honestly, by time that thought crossed my mind, I had already sorted my tickets and I was feeling too lazy to go searching for it again.
For some strange reason, after his initial little freak out, the song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child popped into my head. When he left his little comment on the slip and I had my dark internet-blasting thought, one line stood out to me from the song, “you know I’m not don’ dis you on the internet, ‘cause my momma taught me better than that.”
I then spent my ride home listening to the Survivor album, like an adult, and very quickly got over the night. I moved on and was really just looking forward to my weekend. I actually hadn’t given the whole thing a second thought until I got into my car to run to Starbucks and Destiny’s Child blasted over my car’s speakers.
I had to laugh.
So I’m writing about it now. I don’t need to go viral, I don’t need him to be dragged, I don’t need to world to come rushing to my aid. I’m gonna do what Beyonce would do and I’m gonna be stronger, wiser and better.
I guess it’s all just a reminder to be decent and check yourself. What really ended up bothering me about the whole thing was finding out that all of them were Disney World Cast Members. I don’t expect the magic of Disney to follow them everywhere but they, of all people, should know what it means to be treated like shit by guests.
I chalk the whole thing up to him being in a shit mood and taking it out on me. Or maybe he was just an angry straight guy that didn’t like the gay guy poking fun at him.
Get over it.