Does Everyone Have A Price?

This guy kept banging his glass on the bar, seemingly every thirty seconds, not to get my attention but to make a conversation point. It was for emphasis… a gesticular form of italics… but that didn’t change the annoyance factor so I had to approach this Frenchman doing all the banging.

“Excuse me,” I said, sliding some bev naps under his glass in a minor attempt at humor, “if you have to make a point do it on these.”

“Huh?” he said, not getting the joke.

“Don’t keep banging your glass down on the bar, man! It’s driving me nuts,” I said, but with a smile.

“Oh,” he said, almost blushing, then he laughed along with his date and the two couples with them. “So sorry, really, I do this no more, I promise.” They were all in their mid-twenties and all very nice.

Then one of his friends added wryly, “We are all from just France, you see, but this guy here is from Paris so he has to make noise.” More laughter then at this inside joke.

So I returned to my friend and his girlfriend with whom I’d been chatting before this encounter (let’s call them Jack and Jill), and said, “No harm, no foul. The guy just didn’t realize what he was doing.”

Then Jack said, “But what would you have done if he’d been banging his glass on the bar to get your attention? How would you have handled that?”

His question prompted this story I now share with you…

I had a guy a few years back who was in from out of town, Cincinnati as I recall, and he had with him a group I assumed to be his underlings. I say underlings because he seemed to be holding court to their wide-eyed nodding. So, while this guy was knowingly holding forth on the do’s and don’t’s of how to navigate New York, and rather pompously I might add, I was at the other end making drinks for the tables. When all of a sudden I heard this sound, this ear-splitting, shrill whistle, the kind you do with two fucking fingers in your mouth. The dog whistle! And it came from this idiot in from Cincinnati. Now I’m not what you call a tough guy nor do I relish any confrontation, but this was over the top and demanded some kick-ass. At least verbally.

“Who in the fuck are you whistling at, mister?” I said as I leaned in close. “I’m not a trained dog back here, I’ll get you a fucking drink when I fucking get to it. Got it?”

Well, your man was so taken aback by this, this 5.3 on the Richter, he immediately put his hands up and said, “Hey, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the way you took it, I just wanted to get your attention, that’s all. I thought you forgot about us. We’re cool now. We’re cool.” But I was still freaking hot when I walked away.

Then a few minutes later, I guess when he finally realized he’d been made to look pretty bad in front of his head nodders, he called me back for what he thought would be his face save. To flex his muscles. “Listen, pal,” he began. “I’m in town all week, I’m staying right across the street, and I’ll be coming into this bar a hell of a lot. You got that? And so let me tell you something, my friend. Don’t you ever, I mean ever try to talk to me like…”

“Oh, no, no, no, my friend,” I said, cutting him off with a wave of my hand. “You won’t be coming in all week in fact you’re not here now. You’re going to pay your bill and get the hell out of here.” And with that I slammed his tab down on the bar!

“Good for you,” said Jack and Jill, almost in unison. “What an asshole,” added Jack to button the assessment.

Then Jill said, “Have you ever had the finger snapper to deal with? I have.”

“You?” I said. “How?”

“I used to be a bartender.”

“You’re kidding. You used to be a bartender?” This revelation kind of shocked me because it was hard for me to picture in my mind this gorgeous little model (that’s what she is, a professional model) banging out cocktails and dealing with finger snappers. It somehow didn’t fit. “I never knew you tended bar,” I continued.

“Oh yeah, about ten or eleven years ago.”

“So what happened? Tell me about your dealings with this finger snapper.”

“Well it was my first week at this new job in this real high-end place, so naturally I was trying to do my best. Right? So get this… I’m busy as hell  and this guy keeps snapping his fingers for me to come over. I mean, how rude! But like I said, I was so damn busy even if I wanted to I couldn’t respond. I was that backed up. Then finally, after I got caught up, just to get him to stop I walked on over. ‘What is it, Sir,’ I said, none too warmly. ‘If I give you three hundred dollars,’ he said, ‘would you walk across the street and get me some cigarettes?’ ‘Three hundred dollars? Are you kidding me?’ ‘Nope,’ he said, acting like this big shot. ‘But I can’t leave the bar,’ I said, ‘can’t you see I’m up to my neck in drinks here?’ ‘Then how about I give you four hundred dollars, does that work?’ ‘Sorry, still can’t do it, even for four!’ ‘Five?’ he then said, ‘how about five?’ ‘Sir, please, I’m not trying to negotiate,’ I said, ‘I just cant do it. I can’t leave the bar, like I said, I’m swamped.’ So I walked away. And when I got back over to the waitress station to start making more drinks, one of the girls pulled me aside and said, ‘Don’t you know who that is? That’s Thousand Dollar Jim. Eventually he would’ve given you a thousand dollars. That’s his M.O. with all our new female bartenders. It’s his little game. Go play along and you’ll get a thousand dollars!’ I couldn’t believe it.”

“A thousand smack-a-roonies for a pack of smokes?” I said.

“Yup. A thousand dollars. Pretty incredible, right?”

“Beyond incredible. So what did you do?”

“You know what?” she said. “Damn it I really considered it, I mean who can’t use a thousand bucks if their job is working for tips? But he was so arrogant, so full of himself, and so damn sure I’d play his little game, I…”

“Didn’t do it,” I interrupted.

“It was hard,” said Jill, “but, dammit, no. No, I didn’t!”

“Then good for you as well,” I said, referring to her comment to me over Mr. Cincinnati. “I guess everyone doesn’t have a price.” Then Jack banged his glass on the bar and said, “Could I get a goddam drink when you get a second, please?” We all laughed.

But seriously, dear reader, her story does raise this question I now pose to you. What would you have done in that same situation? Would you have played the game and gone for the thou? In other words, do you have a price? There’s no right or wrong in this, it’s just how you choose to see it or how you’d play it. That’s a hell of a lot of swag to leave on the table!

Ahh, and what about me, I hear you asking, what would your friendly bartender have done with that offer? Well, if it was Thousand Dollar Jane of course who’d made him that tasty offer, she’d not only be holding a pack of smokes mere seconds after reaching that thousand dollar mark, he and Jane would be picking out furniture in the morning.

(Joking, I’m joking, take it easy out there!)

Let me know what you think and I’ll see ya’ next week-end!

22 Responses to “Does Everyone Have A Price?”


  1. 1 Paleoprof January 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Assuming I wouldn’t lose my job behind it I’d take the thousand.
    Like I tell my students around test time I DO have a price I CAN be bribed. . . you just can’t afford me.

  2. 2 Pharm Sci Grad January 29, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I probably wouldn’t because I’m just too cynical to take that sort of thing seriously. Great tales this week!

  3. 3 scribbler50 January 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Paleoprof: I admire your honesty. A lot.

    Pharm Sci Grad: And I admire your integrity, if cynicism translates to integrity. Glad you like the tales, my friend, thanks!

  4. 4 Comrade PhysioProf January 29, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Two thousand, take it or leave it!

  5. 5 Ken January 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Everyone has a price Scrib. But it’s not always money and it’s not always self serving.

    Me, I make eye contact with the bartender and lift up my glass. Never fails. Sometimes I say, “Another please.”

  6. 6 Autistic Lurker January 30, 2011 at 2:10 am

    If I was solo running a bar, I’m not sure I would do it but otherwise, yes.

    Regarding services, the bar I usually goes, they ask me before my glass is empty but nowadays, I only drink sparkling apple juice (see the Coccinelle from http://www.lesvergersdelacolline.com/) at the bar as I stopped drinking.

    A.L.

  7. 7 mvpalex January 30, 2011 at 5:43 am

    The guy from Paris probably made more noise than all of France did when they were invaded …ahh Viva la France…

  8. 8 scribbler50 January 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Comrade Physioprof: Sorry, Dude, there’s a thousand dollar salary cap!

    Ken: That’s all it should take take if the bartender’s on the ball. No whistling required!

    Autistic Lurker: Sounds refreshing and healthy, good luck with that, my friend.

    MVP Alex: So I gather you don’t tear up during the playing of La Marseillaise…

  9. 9 MikeQ January 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    We work for tips and I swear every bartender has a similar story of customers trying to take control by holding out the promise of a large tip. The worst — a customer who asks for just one more after being shut off, promising that there’s something in it for the bartender. I love it when the bartdendrs just say no.

  10. 10 jc January 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    AHAHAHAH you got dog whistled!!! Glad you showed the asshole some bark and bite!

    Re:1000 smackaroos. I worked at a popular celebrity dive wayyyy back when for a summer in college. I was a waitress for the table of a big to-do chart topping singer for a holiday weekend (A HOLIDAY WEEKEND!!!), and after I got done putting the drinks down, he grabbed me, stuck five bens in my face, then stuck them on my tray telling me he needs me to run across the grass to get him something. I said no. He then threw five more bens on my tray. I said no again. I reached up to grab the bills and hand them back, when he grabbed my arm with a death grip and yelled at me HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT!!!!!!! You’ll never believe what he wanted. Benadryl and nicotine patches from the drug store. I took a 10 min break, put the thou in my bra, and ran down the street. Ironically, I also worked part-time cashier at the drug store! And I didn’t have to work that gig anymore! I was a nervous wreck from hell riding the bus on the way home with over $3000 in my purse that night. The dude left me a tip twice the size of his bill too.

  11. 11 scribbler50 January 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Mike: Ahh, the “just one more” ruse. No tip is worth a customer falling out the door, right?
    Thanks.

    jc: I’ve heard of padded bras before but damn!!! Terrific story, my friend, in perfect keeping with this post. Thanks a million. I mean a thousand!

  12. 12 Anonymoustache January 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Duuuude,
    I’d call a friend who had a few minutes to spare, get him/her to run across the street to get the smokes and split the thou….good way to make five cs for you and your friend….it’s a kinder take on outsourcing, man….;-)

  13. 13 scribbler50 January 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Anonymoustache: Love it, man, the job gets done and the wealth gets shared. I doubt, however, the spender would go for it. It’s all about a power trip and someone doing his bidding. On command!

  14. 14 Anonymoustache January 31, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Ah, I didn’t consider that angle —- so if he insisted that ‘I’ run across the street and not be satisfied with getting the smokes then, yeah, I’d have to tell him to fuck off. Can try to meet the customer’s needs but can’t be bought off my station…especially if the asshole is on an ego trip…

  15. 15 Scicurious January 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    We had a snapper once where I worked. He got so bad that my boss came out, walked over and told him that for every snap, he would instruct us to take care of the person BEHIND him in line. He didn’t believe him. Three snaps later, he did.

  16. 16 scribbler50 February 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Scicurious: Now that’s good Management! If the guy didn’t get the point after that he’s hopeless. Thanks, Sci!
    By the way, if you were wondering why your comment didn’t come up right away, for some reason it got blocked which I obviously undid. Don’t know why that happened but I’m sorry. I mean, after all, you’re not only a regular here you have a house account for crying out loud. 🙂

  17. 17 chris February 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    A grand to take a 5 minute break and run across the street? Sure what the hell, he can have all the ego he likes. I wouldn’t allow someone to treat me in a bad way, but I’ll take your money if you’re offering.

  18. 18 scribbler50 February 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    chris: Sounds tempting, right? Can’t half argue with your thinking, man. But if it means in his mind that he’s bought you after that, that you have to respond immediately to his every finger snap, then it’s not worth it. At least not to me and I’m sure you.

  19. 19 JSaw February 3, 2011 at 1:00 am

    I would definitely take the $1,000. Arrogance and stupidity have a price and they should pay the piper. And I’m more than willing to BE the piper.

    I do admire Anonymoustache’s “share the wealth” approach. And totally agree with Chris’ caveat that this “favor” doesn’t allow the person to treat me badly.

  20. 20 scribbler50 February 3, 2011 at 1:06 am

    JSaw: A voice of reason as always, Sir, and honesty. Well said, Piper!

  21. 21 Kewalo February 6, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Many, many years ago I worked as a waitress on Maui. One evening we had a man snap his fingers for his server and our wonderful manager went over and said in a very loud voice, “You do a better flamenco sitting on your ass then most people do standing up.” Do I need to say it was just wonderful?

    Pat Dorian was the managers name, God rest his soul. He was one of life’s better men and I feel blessed to have known him.


  1. 1 MY FAVORITE BLOGS | Trackback on February 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

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