If you like this story, please check out my completed book, “Butts in the Seat”; one reviewer said it was “amusing, entertaining, and provides therapeutic value.”
We have briefly met, through bartender Tara’s eyes, the Australian George Tipton, who thinks tipping is unnecessary at best and a scam at worst. In his native country, there are no hard and fast rules on tipping, and consequently there are no-tippers and low-tippers; virtually no one tips the 20% that has become the United States standard.
When visiting his homeland, George leans toward the no-tipping philosophy, unless he’s in some expensive haute cuisine restaurant. This is almost never the case, because his cheapness is not limited to his tipping practices.
George, AKA The Ironically Named Tip, recognizes that when in America he must do as the Americans do, but he refuses to tip more than 15%, and even then does so begrudgingly.
“Why are the customers responsible for paying the staff’s wages? It’s up to the owners to pay them a living wage.” He says this to Jim, who has heard it all before, and remains unmoved, partly because he’s not particularly fond of George. His cheapness is one reason, his frequent use of Australian slang is another.
“Why don’t you go talk to Champagne Mike?” Jim had said to him a few months ago. “You can talk entirely in non-American bullshit.”
“British slang and Australian slang are very different,” George had said. “You drongo.”
“I know that, I didn’t say they were the same,” Jim responded. “You putz.”
Tonight, while unmoved, Jim decides to reply to George’s lament about cost-shifting being blindly accepted by American restaurant patrons. He says, “Get over it, George. Or move back to Sydney.”
“I’m not from Sydney. I’ve told you that before. I’m from the capital. Three guesses where that is.”
Jim is a geography whiz and can name all of the U.S. and European capitals in alphabetical order (separately or together). He says, “I don’t need three guesses. Canberra, since 1927. Prior to that, it was Melbourne.”
“That’s right,” George says. “I guess I’ve mentioned it.” Another reason Jim isn’t particularly fond of George is that he lacks even one iota of grace.
Melissa is bartending tonight. And while Tara, the softer-and-gentler of the two, tolerates George’s cultural bias against adding to her coffers, Melissa doesn’t.
“George,” she says. “I hope you’re in a generous mood. I have rent to pay. Not to mention Christmas expenses to pay off.”
“Melissa, I’m sure I’ve shared that I don’t think it’s my responsibility to supplement Steve and Lenny’s chickenshit payroll.” Melissa and Jim know that “chickenshit” is Australian slang for pathetic; it helps that it means virtually the same thing in America.
“If it gets crowded later on, you’ll have to give up your seat,” she says.
“Why?” George asks. Jim knows the answer and he listens with amusement.
“Because I don’t want a normal person to have to stand while you take up a stool all night, spend twelve dollars, and tip me a buck fifty.”
“Oh, don’t be a sook,” George says. “That means don’t be a whiner.”
“I got that from context, thanks. But I will ask you to get up if I want to give someone your seat.”
“What would Steve and Lenny say if I told them?” George asks.
Jim answers for her. “You’re not a high-revenue customer. They’d tell you to nick off.”
“Hmm,” George says, with a thoughtful look in his eyes. Jim wonders if he’s had an epiphany, but he doubts it. In his experience, people lose the capability to change in any fundamental way once they hit the age of three.