Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Buck Stops Here

“What I thought was good was when you stopped that guy from taking that buck.”

That was what Bob said in the middle of a conversation to me. The incident wasn’t fresh in my mind because it happened two weeks ago and I really thought nothing of it.

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my usual place and Bob was sitting to my left, the seat next to him was mostly vacant which caused a bunch of people to order from the bar in the void. People would order place down a tip and leave.

When I’m at the bar and not engaged in conversation, I look around and when I look around I notice things, like the dollar tip that was still on the bar when someone walked up to order.

I continued to keep an eye on the dollar, not staring at it but just checking on it with a glance here and there until the bartender came back with the guy’s change, which she placed towards the middle of the bar into one neat pile.

I watched the guy pick up his change in one movement as he was shooting the shit with his friends; he then reached further across the bar and picked up the lone single.

I said “Dude, one of dollars wasn’t yours.”

He half turned to look at me and said “What?”

“One of those dollars that you picked up wasn’t yours; it was a tip someone left.”

He shot a look back at he friends before he asked, “Oh, really? Which one was it?” as he held up his hands which both had bills in them because I made my statement while he was half way through counting the money. I felt as if he thought that I wouldn’t know the answer and that he was partly showing off to his friends.

I could feel Bob’s eyes on me, waiting for what was to come next. I could also feel the eyes of the bartender whose shift had just stated, along with the guy’s two friends. The guy was probably late twenties casually dressed and most likely a candidate for male pattern baldness. He ordered three beers at a dollar fifty apiece for a total of $4.50 and paid with a sawbuck. He was acting like he was doing his buddies some grand favor by buying them beers. I pegged him as an asshole and a pompous one at that.

I slid forward on my barstool to place my feet on the brass foot rail so that I could reach over Bob and unmistakenly point at the actual dollar bill the guy was holding in his left hand. I said, “That one, right there,” and sat back down.

The guy looked at the bill and seemed to hesitate before he placed the buck back on the bar, which the bartender slowly collected. I then watched for him to leave a tip which he did before he and his friends disappeared into the crowd of the main floor.

Bob said, “Wow.”

I said, “What? What kind of asshole steals tips from the bar?” as I turned to Bob. Bob didn’t look at me and he offered no answer to my rhetorical question. “I mean granted, possibly it could have been an honest mistake because he wasn’t paying attention when he was picking up his money, but still.”

“I just can’t believe that you actually said something to the guy.”

“Yeah, I know it’s only a buck and the bartenders probably would never miss it but stealing tips?”

I let it go after that.

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