The Insurance of Professional Service

Contributor: David Macpherson

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I tell a bartender I hear tips is an acronym for “to insure professional service.”

The bartender, still taking orders, says, “I heard that too and I think that’s bullshit. It can’t be true, and if it is, it shouldn’t be. It’s saying I need your bar change so I’ll do my job in proper like. It’s the latest Insurance racket. You got car insurance, health insurance and now you have mixed drink insurance, with an annuity rider for cocktails and personal injury in case you get hit by a champagne cork. Really. To insure professional service. I got more pride than that. I do professional service because I am a fucking professional. It’s what I do. I’m not an actor filling time between auditions. I ain’t a novelist working on my steampunk manuscript. I tap kegs. Pour stouts, mix drinks and talk up thirsty mouths and tell bad jokes. I’ll do that if I get a tip or not. You stiff me on a tip and next time you come in, I still will smile and serve and do the whole fucking routine, I might not mean it, but you still get the song and the dance and the beer. That acronym is saying that the only way I’ll do what I am supposed to is if you bribe me. It might be offensive if it mattered. Truth is some will tip, some will not and some will order another. Sometimes I am having the best time with a customer, we’re like old friends and they leave me a quarter and a dime. And then there are others on a limited budget, counting out every penny and still tipping me twenty percent. Who can say.”

He stops. Notices a customer leaving without settling a tab. He probably just forgot, we are sure.The bartender mumbles “Watch me insure professional service” as he leaves the bar area and follows the guy out the door to politely remind him of what is expected in these moments of transaction.

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