Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Friday, June 03, 2005

The "Car Payment" Customer

Also known as Customers Who Kick Ass, Part Two. Part One Here

Thursday night begins slow and steady, and as prime time (7:00) rolls around, one of the servers is begging to be cut. The floor manager feels a busy night ahead, denies her request, and for once in his life, his instinct proved right. Our asses were kicked moments later.

I'm feeling a little anxious at the bar, which has been busy on the service end but not on the bar "over the wood" customer end. I'm wanting in on the action! And then, Bill walks in. "Car Payment," he's known as. Need I explain why? A true gentleman, in his early 60's, a regular customer, land developer, relatively wealthy, known for his fat tipping habits. Bill walks in with a young blonde, at least 30 years his junior. She's clutching a Vuitton bag that is the object of my desire, and we immediately strike up a conversation. Now, Bill comes in with a different girl every few weeks, so the staff is careful not to offer him his "usual" or suggest the meal he enjoyed last week, so I behave as if it's the first time I've ever laid eyes on him. Car Payment orders the most expensive wine in the house, four glasses, as a second couple is expected soon.

If Car Payment knew his nickname... I'll bet he'd be pleased. He's not the kind of guy who flashes his money or acts obnoxious. He's gentle and fun and you wouldn't call him Car Payment until you saw the tip.

The servers hover a bit around him, anxious to get his table, and begin pressuring the hostess. "Would you like to be seated?" our adorable, waifish hostess asks. "No, we'll wait at the bar, we're expecting another couple." I wish it were appropriate to "high-five" myself. All Mine!!! My precious...

Second couple arrives within minutes. I don't recognize them. She's gorgeous and half-crocked. He's over-tanned and way out of his league. "Mimosa!" she cries. Her date pulls me aside, asks to share Car Payment's wine for himself, and then repeats his date's order. "Sir, we don't carry champagne by the split, so I'm not able to offer mimosas by the glass. However, if you wish to purchase a bottle of champagne, I'll serve your companion mimosas fresh-to-order." He quickly agrees, and I retrieve the champagne. His date, clearly delighted at the sight of a glistening champagne bucket and carafe of freshly-squeezed orange juice before her, squeals, "Ooooh!!! Hey, could I trouble you for a slice of orange?" "No trouble at all, madam," I reply, whipping out an orange and cutting her a slice. It's Car Payment's party. He's going to take care of me. Otherwise, I'd fulfill her demands, but I'd add a little snark. Tonight, I'm treating her like she's Angelina Jolie, and she's loving it. She's about as beautiful as Angelina, and she's doing a fine job of decorating my rapidly-filling bar.

Before taking their table, the party tipped me $70.00 on a $127.00 check. It made my night. Hell, it made my week.

Before I left for work today, I read this post on Waiterrant, about being under-tipped by a guy you helped get laid. I have no way of measuring what my hand in it was, but I'm confident both Car Payment and Friend got lucky tonight. I'm happy to contribute to the magic, and it's even nicer when you get paid a bundle for it.

While carrying a dishpan back to the kitchen, I bumped into Car Payment. He'd finished his dinner and was on his way out the door. "You made my night tonight, Bill," I said. I'm not one to grovel or over-appreciate, but it was the truth, and I wanted him to know how good he'd made all of us feel.

"You made my night," he replied.

I'm tempted to believe him. It was a night of magic at our little Taverna, there are many stories to tell, but I won't bore you with the details.

Just believe.

I walked out of work with a smile on my face tonight. When was the last time you did that?

The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender
Good looking, so refined
Say wouldn't you like to know what's going on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point
I don't pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey big spender!
Spend a little time with me
- Big Spender, Sweet Charity (Musical)