77 Cents on Your Dollar

I’m about to knock my glass off the table to get the bartender’s attention. Cameltoe Joe walked by once already. No he raced by. My beer was already skimming the bottom, little more than foam, but he didn’t notice, didn’t offer me a fresh one. Didn’t even make eye contact. He grabbed the empty off the table and sped away, his eyes locked on the television over the bar. It was on a commercial break but that could change at any moment. I tried to swallow enough of the salad in my mouth to order another beer before he got away but he was too fast.

“You’re still waiting?” Julia yells, loud enough you would think she’d get his attention, as she slides back into the booth.

“Yup.”

“I smoked a whole Newport and fixed my mascara.” She agrees that I should have shoved the pounder to it’s demise on the stained floor. “I bet he makes more than you in tips too,” she jeers.

My blood boils. It’s true. When I started bartending I was naive enough to believe that I had found the magical profession where I would be immune to wage discrimination. If anything my hot young body would get me a few extra dollars, right? Wrong. For every extra percent a customer might give me for my looks, another stiffed me altogether for being a chick.

A touchdown is scored. There are cheers and high fives. “I’m just going to go up to the bar.”

Julia slurps her bloody mary. “Order me another too.”

I would if I could.

There are instant replays and more cheers and high fives and I’m standing there waiting and waiting and he’s staring at the TV with this huge smile on his face. I’m getting thirsty but there’s no way I can get his attention without looking like a total bitch. So I wait and stew on my friend’s words. I know she’s right. I’ve seen it in action. Whole groups of women won’t tip other women. All sorts of people take their racism out on their servers, not just in how they treat them, but financially too. Of course old white men can be the worst. They respect someone that looks like them behind the bar. But a female? It’s not a real job when a female does it. There’s a guy that come’s into my bar. We call him Grumpy. He’s rude as shit to all the girls. Never tips, doesn’t even leave us his change no matter how good of service we give him or how much we kiss his ass. But the one male bartender, the one bartender who is just like Cameltoe Joe right here and doesn’t pay a damn bit of attention to customers, Grumpy leaves him twenty percent and plenty of compliments.

“Wow you must have wowed him,” I said to Geoff one day after retrieving Grumpy’s Visa receipt.

“I guess,” he snorted. “I haven’t moved from this spot since he got here.” It was true. Geoff never gave table service. Just watched ESPN from his corner behind the bar. Customers came to him or they didn’t get anything to drink.

So I’m remembering all of this, really freaking out about it, wanting nothing more than to let my rage erupt in a riot, when Cameltoe finally turns around and looks me right in my beet red face.

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