Sunday, October 02, 2005

the tipping point

We're really not supposed to accept tips. I learned this in my orientation, lo those many years ago when I began catering for the only company of the original six that I would stick with. No tip jar on the bar, no tips for bringing people their coats at coat check. Thank you very much, but your host has taken care of us is the line we're drilled to use.

But sometimes a guest is insistent, and then what? I remember being told that we shouldn't resist to the point where we were creating a scene or making the guest feel bad or awkward. Sometimes it is better to graciously and discreetly accept the proffered tip. But it's rarely an issue.

Last night, it was an issue. I suspect in part because a lot of these guests either don't get to many weddings, or are used to cash bar weddings, which puzzles me. At first people didn't believe it--free likker! Once they got they idea, though, my god. I haven't poured that much vodka in a long time. And the party was a long one. Is everyone drinking one drink and then breaking their glass? asked Film, who was bar manager, because we're going through glassware as though they were.

And people kept throwing money at me, some of which I was able to deflect, some of which I was not. And we got tipped out officially at the end of the night, which is also very rare. I'm feeling all wealthy and stuff. And the guests were really, really nice, which always makes the evening easier. Many of them were openly gay, and many of them were openly tattooed, so I felt like I was serving friends. There was only one visibly inebriated, older guy, who kept leaning on the precariously balanced bar (I mean, the damn thing was on wheels, if that gives you an idea) and asking me if I was a dancer, if I was happy, if I believed in life after death, how I'd managed to find a way to be happy. Near the end I started to worry that he was going to become a Problem, especially as guest after guest tried to pry him off my bar and he snarled them away, but Film caught on and moved me to a task out of Drunk Guy's sightlines, so no awkward scene.

Twelve hours, though. Fortunately I'd seen the mischievous BunnySlope the night before, so I was feeling pretty charged and generous, ready to pour as many vodka tonics as were requested of me. I also learned how to make a Manhattan. A grandfather drink! said the orderer, who--I'm duly embarrassed--had to talk me through it because I'd forgotten to study my cheat sheet this week. And I developed a new, froofy pink drink built along the margarita line in honor of a perfectly flaming guest who was calling me dear by his second vodka-and-soda. And I got to shimmy as I shook, Coyote Ugly in a tux, to the first decent wedding dj I've heard in years.

So, a good night. Absolutely drained now, and I fear I won't be able to move when I wake up, but it was so wonderful to realize both that I was honestly happy... and honestly enjoying work.

I also want to mention two tasty reads: Final Vinyl Days by Jill McCorkle and The Good Life by Erin McGraw, both short story collections. What is it with apparently-Celtic-heritage female writers this week?