A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


(a.k.a. Douche Hawaii, part 2)

This would be a full-fleged "Douche Hawaii" had Bob been wearing a real Hawaiian shirt, but his was just a generic patterned shirt. I'm still considering making it a full-fledged category, though. The Ongoing Adventures in Douche Hawaii.

I'm also thinking I may never leave the house on Fridays again. If this is the conspiracy, to make Fridays Jamie-free, you have nearly succeeded.

Tonight we had a friend in town from San Francisco. Our pal Sonja has been making a name for herself in the world, having left this shitbird 'burg almost a year ago to pursue her goals. I've missed all of her previous visits, so this time we made sure I would be there to stand around awkwardly and be intimidated by how awesome she is. Seriously, I have yet to meet the person that doesn't feel he or she pales in comparison to Sonja.

The night started well, beginning at a familiar local before moving on to Kelly's Olympian on SW Washington. I had a few drinks there, walked one of our party to work, and then decided to return to the bar to rejoin the group.

By the time I am back, both our party has increased, and so has the bar staff. The party has grown by two, and the bar staff has increased by the same amount. I am pretty sure when I left that there were two servers, and now there were at least four, give or take. Shortly after I arrive, the party I am with changes again, and it ends up being only two ladies and myself. They have drinks, I don't. Not for lack of trying. I sit there for 15 or 20 minutes without anyone so much as asking me if I need a drink.

A decision is made to move on, and one of my friends needs to settle her tab. Now, you should know, everyone I have been with all night are either former servers from other bars or currently working as servers, and the one needing to pay her tab knows the bartender, a fellow named Bob, on a first-name basis. I know that I have a $10 bill and a $1 bill in my wallet, and when Bob tells her that her drink is $5.50, I decide on impulse to pay for her drink and hand Bob the $10 and tell him, "I will buy her drink."

Realizing we have time and she now has the same amount of money, my friend now decides that she can buy another drink. As a consumer, this makes sense to me, but here is where I make my fatal mistake (apparently). It seems this second drink is more expensive than the first, and when my friend hands Bob a second $10 bill and says keep the rest for himself, this enterprising bartender--or as I like to call him, grifter--sees his opening. He looks at me and gives me this look like, "What do I do?"

I guess this could have gone one or two ways. Had Bob not been an asshole douchebag looking to screw his customers, I would not have had to be sharp enough to think to say, "I am paying for her first drink," despite the fact that this is clearly what I have offered up my money for. Instead, I say, "I'm buying the lady a drink," and Bob's Gambit is in place.

Bob serves her drink, and he leaves no money on the table. As we wait for our friend to drink her drink, I say, "Hey, I gave that guy a $10," to which both friends, experienced servers each, say, "Maybe he forgot. Ask him for your change."

As we leave, I do just that, and Bob replies, "Oh, sorry. I owe you $1.50. Her drink was $8.50."

Oh, clever Bob. Suddenly I have gone from buying her first $5.50 drink to paying for a second drink that is more expensive. Conveniently, we have given him the same amount of money, though only one of us has given him carte blanche to keep the change. Bob's Gambit is that he has positioned me to pay for the more expensive drink, and by not giving me my change, banking on me either saying nothing or shrinking from his trick rather than look cheap. It's the difference of $3 in basic price. I'd have likely tipped a buck, but when it comes down to it, he's looking at either a tip of $2.50 or a tip double that for serving two drinks. He wins either way, but he's banking on my being a decent guy in hopes of getting more.

You should know, I bought this friend's drink with no expectations. I knew she had a boyfriend, I was not looking to gain anything by doing this. I just had an impulse to be nice. And damn it, Bob's Gambit worked.

Faced with him only owing me $1.50, I have two options: (1) argue over what drink I am paying for and suggest my friend isn't work the extra $3, or (2) take my $1.50 and be a cheap bastard. I guess the third option is take the $1.50 and tip out of that, but I feel Bob has removed that option by his actions. A less dishonest trick would be to just give me the $1.50, which in any scenario was rightly mine, I never said to keep the change.

I'm not a cheap tipper. Certainly not when going out with other servers. They notice if you tip like crap, while also making you aware of their plight. Had Bob asked his fellow servers who had set me up with my consumables earlier in the evening, he'd have discovered I had been tipping $1 a drink. That's not bad for a guy who drinks his whiskey straight. You don't even have to mix it, unless you count introducing liquid to glass mixing. Regardless of the overall ethical question of Bob's Gambit, he also picked an undeserving victim. I'm Michael Clayton, I'm not the guy you kill; I'm the guy you pay off with a better pour. Even as some weird revenge if he incorrectly perceived me as going home with this woman and leaving him behind, he's still screwing the friend of a cohort to whom he owns a professional courtesy. He's conning the friend of someone whom he knows.

I don't know how many of you who read this blog are from Portland, but if you find yourself in Kelly's Olympian, beware of Bob. I will never tip him again. I reiterate, even if he's really innocent of a definite screw job, he at the very least owed me my change; he withheld it to force a tip. Bob is the tallest behind the bar, Caucasian, thin, nearly bald but shaving his head to a fine fuzz to pretend he's not nearly bald (so, clearly not afraid of a cheap ruse). If you are there and unsure, ask your bartender when he serves, "Thanks, man, what's your name?," and if he says, "Bob," you can say "Thanks, Bob," and then keep an eye on your money, tipping according to whatever makes you comfortable. You'd be correcting an imbalance in the universe if you thought twice about your generosity.

After leaving Kelly's, we went to Shanghai Tunnel. We didn't stay long enough to order, but I did give my last $1 to a homeless woman outside the bar. Perhaps karma was ready to smile at me on last, because two blocks away, walking home immediately after, I passed through a parking lot behind Dante's that had quite a few people in it, and as I did, I spotted what looked like money on the ground. Snatching it up and unfolding it, it turned out to be a $20 bill. Score!

Almost instantly, a parking attendant approached me, and he had his hand out, and he said, "What's that?" I tell him that I just found money, and he keeps his hand out and juts his hand forward and opens his eyes wider in a clear signal that he thinks I should hand it over. I just look at him, and as my only comment on his gall, say, "Must be my lucky day."

Current Soundtrack: the Spellbinders, Spencer Davis Group, Spice Girls, Rihanna, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Gnarls Barkley, Garbage, Cat Power & Ensemble, Bettye Swan, Tujiko Noriko, Christina Aguilera, the Indelicates

Current Mood: amazed

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All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich


Gia said...

I have a huge personal problem with people who try and force a tip. It's the reason I have the biggest problem with any non whole valet dollar figure (though people who pay for parking are suckers). Like you're charging me $4.25 so you'll be nearly guaranteed to tack that $0.75 on to your tip. It usually backfires for them with us, but I'm sure to the hundreds of other people a night that they cater to, it works just fine. I'll take my $0.75, please.


Chynna Clugston Flores said...

Bob sucks, but I might have wanted to punch the parking attendant more.