Devin Dearing Preston: NYC writer, playwright, and storyteller

a guilty conscience

September 11, 2009

Lets be honest. Your server wants you to have drinks with dinner. Expensive drinks. Lots of them. We work on commission. The more you drink, the more you spend, the more you tip. It is simple math. A bottle of Jordan Cabernet costs a lot more than a refillable iced tea. And it is nice to have a few drinks with dinner. It makes your experience more enjoyable. You relax. Have a few laughs. Enjoy the food more. Have a better time and thus are more inclined to tip me more. 

I get it. But I don’t always like it. Not every guest knows how to enjoy alcohol responsibly. Now, in New York, we as servers are inclined to keep serving guest who have had “too much fun” cause its a pretty safe bet that they aren’t going to be getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. They basically just have to be able to remember their address and say it clearly enough to a cabby to get home in one piece. So when two grown men, who sit down drunk, order their second bottle of $100 wine, who am I to tell them that maybe they have had enough. Its not my liver. If they aren’t getting loud, pinching my ass, or fist fighting, its really not my place to put a stop to their fun. Who’s it going to hurt, really?

Well, that’s the thing. In these extreme cases, when you find yourself dealing with what I like to call “Pro’s”, its around my 7th trip to the bar that I start to get a little melancholy. I unfortunately have first hand experience with “pros”. My father was a pro for many years. Until it caught up with him. And he wasn’t anymore. I can spot one a mile away. There are a few tells. They are usually the ones with the scotch in their hands and the determined look on their face as they deliberately swerve down the isle. I try not to judge. And most of the time find it strangely endearing. Life is hard and everyone has issues. And these people are advertising theirs pretty loudly to all of Manhattan.

I just hate profiting from other people’s misfortune. And its a fact that drunks usually are the best tippers. I once got $50 on $150. Or try $140 on $450. I guess they are just super appreciative of you taking care of them cause they know that they are a handful. Its hard work going back and forth from the bar that many times.

And I know I’m not making them order another drink. They are going to have that 10th drink if I bring it to them or not. And I know that there is nothing that I can do to stop their destructive behavior. They aren’t going to wake up tomorrow morning with an intense hangover and say “You know, that waitress was right!! I think I do have a problem. Thank God for her. She saved my life.” And then run to their nearest AA meeting. It just makes my heart hurt a little to see people struggle with this disease. This is precisely why I’m not a bar tender or a cocktail waitress.

At least in a restaurant the alcoholic can pretend he’s there to eat. And I can pretend that he just really enjoys the flavor combination of a fine aged cabernet  and a Cowboy Ribeye.

Categories: Waiting is the Hardest Part

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