Nobody likes cheap people . . . but in the restaurant business we really don’t like them.
Take 99.9% of the customers at Johnny D’s, and we have no complaints. But then there are the remaining 00.1% — the cheap, nickel-and-dime c*ck s*ckers.
Understandably, not everyone can afford to be generous. At Johnny D’s the focus is on live music, and when it comes to World Beat crowds, or Reggae crowds — these people often have alternative life-styles, and probably not much money.
So I can’t complain about the loose change they leave (or don’t leave.)
But it’s the obviously well-off folks . . . those who have the money but are simply too cheap to part with a dime . . . those are the people that really bug me.
Back at The Lark Tavern, Tommy Talbor had his own way of dealing with these folks. If someone left him a short tip — especially if they offered an insincere apology, or excuse — Tommy was quick to respond. He’d tell them: “That’s OK . . . people generally tip what they can afford!”
Tommy’s whole attitude behind the bar was biting and sarcastic, but over the years I have used his line once or twice myself.
There was one guy at Johnny D’s one night who left me a quarter as a tip on a $19.75 round. I probably wouldn’t remember him, but he made such a big deal of setting the quarter down on the bar. He had this smug look on his face — an irritating little smirk, as if to say — “I know you expected more, but that’s all I’m leaving!”
He stood there smiling as if his smug grin was intended to add insult to injury — like the $1.33 tip illustrated above, with its “get-a-real-job” jab.
I picked up the quarter, and smiled back at him.
“Thanks,” I said.
That threw him off for a second, but he continued to look at me and shrugged his shoulders as if to repeat, “Hey, that’s all I’m leaving, pal!”
“Don’t worry about it” I said to him, still smiling, “I never expect people to tip more than they can afford.”
Now he looked as though he was choking on something. He wanted to say something more, he wanted to have the last word, but he wasn’t sure what that was.
“Just try to keep smiling, guy,” I thought as I gave him a quick thumbs-up with one hand, “I just called you an asshole.”
Then I tossed the quarter into the tip jar, and continued making drinks.
There’s a reason all this comes to mind . . . last Saturday night we had one couple who clearly belonged to this cheapskate 00.1% of customers.
Wanda Jackson was playing at the club that night . . . she’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she’s called “America’s first female Rock and Roll singer.”
It was a great crowd that came to see her . . . or at least 99.9% of them were. Early in the evening we had one cheap couple who tried to sneak into the show for free.
But that story is for part two of “Cheap People,” and it’s coming in the post next Saturday . . .
A coworker taught me a good term for these: Chiselers. The types who say, tip 15% and only on food, not beverages.
My theory on the people who have money and don’t tip, is that they are rich for a reason, and that reason is that they don’t spend their money. Or they are just arrogant and like to let us know our “place” like the guy in your story.
Mandy: Thanks for stopping by, Mandy! Personally, I think it’s the second of your suggestions — arrogance and wanting to feel superior, to put someone in their place. This guy was definitely a dick.
That’s much nicer than how I put it with a guy who used to always tip me a quarter back when I cocktailed at a college bar. Fed up, I just put the quarter back in his hand one night and said, “You obviously need this more than I do.” It was a kind of open-seating, every-cocktail-waitress-for-herself place. No one but him ever noticed that I never served him again.
Jamie: That’s a great story … perfect response. These people deserve a little egg on their face … it’s the least we can do. (I’m curious … are you “our” Jamie, former manager at Johnny D’s? If so, how are you???) 🙂
We had one cheap SOB where I worked. He never left a penny couldn’t get his chance in his pocket quick enough. I think he thought someone would take his money if he didn’t get it in his pocket.
I love Jamie’s line “You obviously need this more than I do.” Wish I’d thought of that when I was cocktailing, though I might have been tempted to throw the quarter in his face. I was only a waitress while in college, but the experience taught me how hard a job it is. I’ve always tipped well ever since.
Starbucks8294: There’s always one isn’t there, my friend. I’ve seen that myself … guys in such a rush to take their change, as if it might be stolen if they didn’t.
Llylak: Jamie (if it is our Jamie) is a pistol, Lly. I could just see her delivering that line.
Generosity is the trait of a person who is happy in life and feels good when they can share with someone else. People who are penny pinchers typically have many other areas of their lives where that cannot give or share themselves and it’s very apparent by they way they live and love. It doesn’t matter how much $ you have it’s all about the thought of being a good and giving person. If someone works hard they should be rewarded especially a Bartender or Server as the base wage is low, mostly relying on gratuities. As you know, my Daughter is a Bartender and Server and she has told me stories where she refuses to serve regular customers if they are cheap and rude to her. Many wealthy and Europeans seem to fit that category well…..Cheap _astards!
JT: You’re a wise man, JT … but then being a musician you’ve spent your share of time in bars. Hey, we missed you at the Blues Jam on Sunday. That has to be the first time in how long … a year at least … you haven’t been there? I asked Grant where you were … well, this was the conversation:
Me: “Hey Grant … where’s Taylor today?”
Grant: “He had a family affair he had to attend.”
Me: “Doesn’t he know the Blues Jam is a family affair too?”
It amazes me how wealthy people can be so cheap. My girlfriend is a trust fund baby and her aunt and uncle control the trust. They are millionaires in their own right and will travel across Dallas just to use a coupon. With gas prices where they are, I doubt they save any money.
Sometimes you gotta suck it up.
Colleen: From the stories you’ve told me, Colleen, your friend is still financially OK, despite her tight trust administrators. (That story from one of your visits to Dallas … the wrong cars given out by the nightclub valet … I still laugh about that one. It’s so f’n funny.) Let’s just pray that she gets through this current medical crisis.
DAbertini: Yea, you’re right DA. In this business you let the cheap tippers roll off your back … it’s the average at the end of the week, end of the month that counts, not each night and certainly not each tip, … tip by tip. But I felt like complaining. 🙂
i have been so fed up with tables acting stingy that i have had to add gratuity to larger parties, whereas before i never wanted to bc it seemed to look bad. but if people are looking stingy, get it where you can!
Flippingtables: I hear ya, Flippin. Hey, welcome back … I see you’re posting again!
It is me Mike, I check your blog first thing every Monday morning now that I can’t get your stories first hand as often as I’d like!
Jamie: Oh, oh … now I’ll have to change your name when I tell some of those good stories about your wild times, Jamie. 🙂