i don’t make resolutions

for realsies though, do people still go through the motions of these hollow promises every year?  yeah, we know.  you are going to eat healthier and go to the gym more.  you are going to watch less tv.  you are going to shed the negativity and find the bright light in every day. you are going to stop being so lazy and chase your dream of professional writing.  ok, so i say that one every couple of months.  but at least i am smart enough to know i am just fooling myself and that the lure of the couch and streaming episodes of “american horror story” will always prevail.

that being said, i don’t want you to confuse this entry with a resolution.  this is just my bi-annual attempt at self-motivation.  this attack of inspiration’s timing just happens to up the cheesy factor.

if i am going to go anywhere with this blog, i need to actually, like, write in it, and stuff. on a pretty regular basis.  in order to do that, i need to share the banal details of my daily life with you lucky people and hope that you find me somewhat entertaining enough to force my thoughts upon your friends and any other bored strangers.  so without further ado, i present to you…

“still life: new year’s day 2015, 4:37 a.m.”

still life nyd 2015-001

this is a photographic encapsulation of working in the service industry.  this is sitting on the couch after a crazy hectic night of ensuring that all of your customers had an incredible new year’s eve celebration.  this is eating frozen pizza in your sweatpants after serving a seven course meal full of international delicacies that you didn’t even get to taste.  this is your girlfriend being left kissless at midnight.  and this is only one night out of the year.

there are so many things i have missed over the years because of my career choice. i didn’t attend thanksgiving with my family for nearly a decade, and christmas is usually celebrated in january.  weddings rarely take place on a tuesday in the winter, so during my busiest season of the year i have to feel like a jerk for choosing my bank account over witnessing the happiness of my closest friends.  my birthday gifts are usually a lame text message sent in lieu of my presence at the shindig.  concerts, shows, vacations: these are all luxuries afforded those who don’t work weekends.  and it’s a major bummer.

no, this is not a pity party.  i am usually very content with the work that i do.  i know that i’m damn good at it and not enough people get the constant affirmation of that fact in other fields.  and the money, well, the money is amazing and is by far the biggest reason i have never left the job to go sit in an office somewhere.   it also affords me a freedom that a “real” 9 – 5 job would not allow.  but i am all too aware of how much i waste all of my free time.

hence this non-resolution resolution.  prepare yourself to be annoyed by the resurgence of my blog posts.  if i know myself at all, i know this fire may only burn for a few weeks.  if i slack off, feel free to yell at me.  if i am boring the fuck out of you, please speak up. i may or  may not care, but i at least need to know.  if nothing else, i need to reveal the results of my jello shot delivery research that took place over a year ago.  professional procrastinator, at your service.

if you can’t afford to tip, then you can’t afford to drink

You sidle up to the bar and grab a seat. I smile, say hello, toss you a coaster and ask what I can get for you. The first words out of your mouth are, “What’s cheap?” I smile again and respond, “Drinking at home is cheap,” and walk away.

Okay, I don’t really say it, but I think it as I list off drink specials and explain that Natural Light is always the least expensive choice. Your stinginess has also made me aware that you’re probably not the best tipper in the world, so our transaction has started off on a sour note. Subconsciously, I have decided that you are not going to receive the best service I have to offer, and that sucks for both of us.

I am a firm believer that it should be a life requirement for everyone to work in the service industry for a short period of time. Whether or not you choose to make it a career, you should know what it feels like to have your livelihood depend upon the generosity of those you serve. The bartenders, barbacks, servers, bussers and food runners who have dedicated their hours to making your drinking and dining experience the best it can be, rarely receive a paycheck. The $3.63 an hour we make is usually just enough to cover taxes at the end of the week. When you tip poorly, it is not only a hit to the bills we owe that month, but also to our sense of self-worth. If you choose not to honor the customary dollar per drink or 15% gratuity on a check (FYI: these days, it is actually 18%), you are blatantly stating that my precious time is not worth your money.

One balmy July evening, I was working the dreaded “karaoke night” shift. A group of 15 customers were drinking Grateful Deads like they were free. I made copious rounds of this labor intensive drink which consists of seven different liquors and a skillful pour that creates a tie-dyed appearance, all while simultaneously serving 40 other thirsty patrons. When this group asked for their bill, which was well over $200, they balked, complained and proceeded to tip me a whopping $1.50. I begrudgingly held my tongue (not an easy feat for this broad) because I know that I have to take the good with the bad in this business. I usually have my share of tremendous tippers who make up for classless chumps like this.

It was not until one member of the group came back to the bar and asked, “What can I get with my last $5.00,” that I lost my shit. I refused to serve him explaining that those five bucks, along with many more, should have been mine. To this he responded with some of the sharpest words to ever be uttered in a barroom: “Well if you wanted to make real money, maybe you should have gotten a real job.” I have served a lot of rude and ignorant drunks, but this one cut straight to my soul.

I chose this career path. I hung my B.A. on the wall next to my coveted collection of shot glasses. I have a mortgage payment and a myriad of other bills that get paid because customers value my efficient, friendly service and my knowledge of boozy concoctions. I work hard. I run and sweat and cater to the ridiculous requests of finicky drinkers. There is nothing fake about this job and it is certainly not always the shot-taking funhouse it may appear to be. At the end of the day, I expect my efforts to be rewarded just like any cubicle occupant out there.

There is a running joke in my family about how extravagant of an over-tipper I am when on the customer side of the scene. I usually drop an extra twenty dollar bill on the table after the check has been paid, just in case. My bare minimum gratuity is 20% and the service has to be abhorrent for me to lower that. I don’t expect everyone to follow my lead, but the moral of the story is this: If you are not willing to tip sensibly on top of the cost of your food and drinks, then I suggest you pick up a 12-pack, swing through the McDonald’s drive-thru and drink on your own couch.

this article was previously published in “the hard times magazine,” 19 august 2011