The Tipping Point

A while back on twitter I asked what people thought was an acceptable tip to had over to a bar hand.

I raised this question because people had long told me the unwritten rule was 20 pence (it’s how much Leigh fans bought a flute for when they had some sense and about 50 cents in US monies).

The answers I got back ranged from confirming the 20 pence “standard” to saying that some might go up to a quid, but would usually expect about 50 pence as a maximum.

My mum (a former bar maid) and a friend who is one also confirmed they would take 20p, though my mum would point out that 20p back when she worked was worth a hell of a lot more than it is now.

There are of course stories of customers putting an actual drink on behind the bar for the staff once the shift has ended and other such pleasantries.

I hate the 5 pence coin, so if I ever get a drink that is between 5 to 15 pence short of the whole pound I’ll let the staff keep it.  But in my twattish way I won’t actually say “round it up” or “call it £X,” I’ll just walk away from the bar and hope, as has happened, that I don’t get chased down by some worried employee determined to had over the loose change, which in this day and age of the easily offended and of litigation-happy people I can quite understand.

There was also a discussion about how let the bar keep know you wanted to tip them.

“And yours” seemed  most popular, I go with “(and) one for yourself” – which last year in London lead to a novel situation.

Having spent about 4 hours in one bar marvelling over and obviously massively indulging in the beer selection I felt it only proper to tip the bar staff.  As an aside I don’t wait four hours, I have no set time of when I tip or indeed if I do, this is not some moralist hang-wringing piece nor is it a rant worthy of Mr. Pink.

So I got my final drink(s) and said “one for yourself,” to which I was then surprised as the bar (man in this instance) picked up his clean glass and proceed to inspect what he had been selling before informing me he’d have a half of one of the drinks I just ordered, he then gave me my change.

However I didn’t find this to be a giant piss-take.  It was a first and it has never happened since but the guy could have gone full on £11-a-pint if he’d wanted to but instead merely matched my drink.

Which also married up with a lot of “warnings” about how people take the inflections of the phrases used to instigate a tip in different parts of the country.  Not that I wish to infer that this practice is either common or exclusive to London.

But back to my original light bulb moment, I asked about tipping because I was in a Greater Manchester pub and after sitting down with my first drink I could hear the distinct sound of pound coins hitting the tip glass (fashioned out of a pint nonik rather than the usual half or shorts glass).

Now either the punters were very generous tippers or that was how much the bar (maid in this instance) thought that is how much the tip should be.  Whether this was a conclusion she had come to herself or it was a direction from the pub got me thinking about who informs on bar staff how much to take for a tip.

When you think about it, given that a pint in this pub was an average of about £3.50 that works out as approximately a 30% tip.

Then also a while back (as I do take far to long to write these posts), in between a lot of tweets by people with sand in their vaginas I can across this post by Benjamin Nunn and though it wasn’t anything related to the post’s rant it did ring my alarm bell:

“To my mind, this is the equivalent of a 20 pence tip – more insulting than ignoring it altogether!”

With all that has gone on recently about companies taken employee tips either in the full or at a charge if the payment has been made by card it does make you wonder that if 20p is seen as patronising and maybe it is in places where living costs are higher it is, perhaps  we shouldn’t begrudge those taking a bit more than the “standard.”

Would appreciate comments and opinions on this, stick them below…

Mr. Pink, for those who don’t get the reference


A Small Man Walks Into A Pub

Based on an instant reaction to this post by Sophie Atherton

This piece is not intended as an antagonistic response, merely me putting over another (not, THE other) side, this time of a man getting served at a bar.

I don’t know if anything can be read into Sophie’s (too familiar? Sorry) story, that this incident was this time caused by a female bartender (nah, doesn’t work), it would be interesting to note the age of said employee.

But then again, from my point of view neither the age nor the gender of the bar staff really tallies with what kind of service you get.

I don’t frequent clubs at all anymore, having loathed anytime spent in them in my youth,  but in each case any chap behind the bar would always serve the prettiest girls first before attending to either the men or the women he didn’t deem to be as attractive.  Female staff were always much more productive.

Pubs on the other hand, I find, can be very varied.

I can understand staff serving “regulars” before me, I don’t like it but it is unwritten pub etiquette, whether it is something anyone waiting an inordinate amount of time should tolerate is another matter.

It is worse for me that in some cases as I would deem myself a semi-regular – the staff in the pubs I go in probably don’t know my by name but they should certainly know me by sight.

In pubs that is always the loathsome aspect of waiting to get served sometimes, not only “beaten” by the regulars who appear like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper at the side of the bar, but also when you’re at a bar and the staff start talking over you to a mate of theirs three persons behind you.

In either case it has generally been bloke bar staff that do this.

And with Christmas coming up it will only get more ridiculous.

I’m pretty sure I read blog pieces about “a bar staff’s prerogative” last Xmas – it is what happens when you give an individual just a little bit of power over another.

Having spent the weekend serving at the 1st Independent Salford Beer Festival (review to follow), I’d like to think I was all equal opportunity; indeed the epitome of a 1st come, 1st served attitude, it isn’t difficult in the slightest.

You’d even think that regulars wouldn’t mind waiting – a stranger at the bar, go ahead, it brings in possible repeat business if they are served quickly and will keep the coffers of the pub topped up for just that little bit longer.

I don’t doubt that women may find it more difficult to get served before men, though I’ve been served, after quite a long while of waiting, by some gruff old bloke seemingly reluctant for my custom and by women (of various ages) more intent on gossiping than bringing in cash for the business they work for.

I can only expand on Mrs. Atherton’s (too formal? Sorry) final sentence; pubs are indeed still closing at a rate, but regardless, given any other option, people will go elsewhere if they have to wait because of ignorant, poorly trained bar staff – of any gender.