Bad Barmaid

images I have never not tipped a soul in my life. A waiter once knocked a half eaten crab cake down my dress, and I still left him money. Accidents do happen, even if they involve an unsuspecting cleavage.

To recap…

I found a ten and a five in one of my overcoats. Was I thrilled. Of course, instead of buying brown rice for the month, I hit a bar.

Why not, I thought, it’s a beautiful day and wasn’t finding money a gift? That’s all it took to get me to float over to a little bistro on Third for a glass of white. I switch from red after Memorial Day. I tell myself it’s because Chianti is too heavy in the heat, but there’s also all that white to consider. The last thing you want is a stain on those seasonal culottes.

It’s a typical Sunday in Manhattan with everyone and their mother out having brunch…cafe tables are spilling over onto the sidewalk…carriages lined up like baby limousines. I take it all in, making mental notes after getting comfy at the packed bar.

I order Chardonnay in a chilled glass from a pretty red-headed barmaid. I’m cheerful, still in finding money mode, when I compliment her on her pixie haircut. She does a full turn without me asking, so I can see the back.

I’m little hungry, but know my fifteen dollars wasn’t covering snacks, but then notice a half dozen tumblers on the service bar filled with Peanut M&Ms.

Hmm, maybe they put them out later since it’s still only a little past 2…but thought, how great it would be to have some now.

I wave to Betty, I’ll call her, who’s busy chatting up a guy belting back beer like he’s at a ballgame. She lopes over after first giving me the old, hold on…I’ll be right there, gesture.

I was a girl once, I remember how hormones have the last say, so I wait and wait and wait…AND WAIT…

finally getting her ear.

“Hey, do you think I can have a few M&Ms…they’re waving at me from across the bar.”images-3Without as much as a beat Betty says, “Nope, they’re for the staff,” making her way back to beerman, leaving curtness in her wake.

Not to be easily dismissed where candy is concerned, I say loudly, “Wait a minute, you won’t even give me a few?”

She shrugged like I was asking for a free steak.

Okay…number one…what happened to, let’s make the customer happy? I see that went out with bar etiquette she clearly doesn’t practice, and I’m so sorry Betty I don’t come with a penis with a head on it, so to speak.

Now I may not be a 30 year-old guy with biceps like beach balls, but I’m well dressed with my vintage Prada purse perched on the bar as proof…

I tip there Red, and you don’t even have to do much (and always more than 20 %).

More angry about my good mood passing then being denied cheap candy, I drain my drink and ask for a check.

Dammit…my buzz, that I was so enjoying, has headed south.

“Come again soon,” Betty croons delivering my check like a singing telegram. Her charm was somewhat late.

Well, the sum was 10.89…I left the ten and 89 cents, 32 of it in pennies, and went my merry way.

A first folks. I tip everybody, even the surly waiter who served me moldy pound cake. If someone isn’t nice I tell myself, you don’t know their story Susannah. They could be going through a hard time, so let’s overcome wanting to kill and just be generous.

I knew her story right out of the gate. That little perky pirouette she did when I first came in was a helluva intro, I just didn’t know it yet.

Maybe my lack of largesse was childish, but I feel justified letting her know I wasn’t thrilled with the service.

If it were me, I would have happily broken out a fresh bag. images-2

And you know what?

That’s the tip I should have given her.






About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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22 Responses to Bad Barmaid

  1. micklively says:

    They would only have made your chardonnay taste sour. You definitely need savoury snacks with a dry wine.
    Thanks for another interesting tale Susannah.


  2. Manners would be nice, but they seem to becoming a thing of the past.


  3. katecrimmins says:

    Bravo! I am so proud of you!


  4. Wow, that’s some crappy service. If they’re just for staff, they shouldn’t have them out in plain sight. I wouldn’t have tipped her either; after all, that’s the point, right, to reward good service? Hopefully she’ll get the point.


  5. Alva Chinn says:

    Well…I once left a penny when a racist waitress decided we late teens of color didn’t deserve basic courtesy. My friends worried about what she would think… I already knew and made sure they didn’t leave her more! Sometimes it’s necessary!


  6. Sometimes, you just cannot tip. The person does not deserve it. I usually tip all the time also, even after one lunch where my youngest found a piece of plastic in her salad (hard piece of plastic), that was after the waitress had spilled strawberry lemonade down my back, literally, and then they offered us a free dessert which had a fly in it… yeh, it was a bad, bad, lunch… but even then, I left a tip much to my daughter’s disgust! Great story. Hope you went and bought yourself a bag of m&m’s… DAF


  7. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, you did the right thing. A tip is in appreciation for good service. It is not a requirement or a right.


    • In theory Skinny. You become the customer from hell when you don’t tip. It’s a place I like, don’t go to very often, but half expect to find a sketch of me behind the bar with a line through it. And no, I’m not really sorry.


  8. Elle Knowles says:

    I think you got her story right on the dot! And she got what she deserved – from you anyway…Now that 30 year old guy with biceps like beach balls may have gotten a bit more! 🙂


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