Monday, October 25, 2010


I had mentioned before that when I worked for the bank, wages were quite low. In those days, bankers were supposed to somehow eat prestige. Banks often gave titles in lieu of a raise. I found titles had zero calories and less taste.

Titles are only useful at class reunions for bragging rights. Now it was a great job if you were supplementing your husbands income but when it was your only income, life could be bleak.

So I sometimes found myself working a second, part time job a couple of nights a week for spending money. Once I worked for a new car dealer and once as a cocktail waitress. Now of all the jobs I ever had, full or part time, the one I enjoyed the most was the latter. It was kind of like being at a party, sober, but paid well. There was fun, laughter and constant kidding around with a smidgen of harmless flirting.

The bar where I worked was part of a large hotel chain that had a very nice steak house restaurant. The lounge was mainly where people went for drinks while waiting for their reservation. There were the few local regulars who only came to drink the night away but they were seldom rowdy. The regulars were realtors, lawyers, a few black sheep from very wealthy families, and tourists who were staying at the hotel.

What I really liked was the mental sparring with the customers. Working there I am sure I increased my retort IQ on a nightly basis. The sharper your comeback, the bigger the tip. I can sometimes come up with a ho-hum quip today when under pressure, but with the constant give and take each night in those days, it became very easy and second nature. It is one of those "use it or lose it" things.

Of course, people who drink are easily amused so I shouldn’t have judged my skills by their reactions. Regardless, I had fun and could make in two nights what it took all week to earn at the bank. Rarely were these exchanges with the customers of a ribald nature for these were mostly people on dinner dates. We were just having fun.

One night, I had one of the 5 richest men in America walk into the lounge with a party of 4. I had met him earlier that year at a dinner during a golf tournament that I wrote about here.

That was when I had my episode with the arrogant golfer guy who set the bad behavior bar for the Tiger Woods types of today. While rich dude and I had shared a table and brief pleasantries at the tournament, I felt he in no way remembered me. I was right.

Roger the bartender, who was the boss's son, gave me a wink and said not to expect a tip from that table. The uber rich fellow was notoriously tight. I had dated RD's right hand man for a while and he often regaled me stories of the man's world class tightwad nature.

Marc, my former boyfriend, said that once they were inspecting a construction site for a new hotel, when the old fellow, jumped down from a six foot concrete wall to retrieve a half dozen unused concrete nails lying on the ground.

“Perfectly good nails,” he growled. “People have no respect for property.” Evidently, retrieving the nails outweighed the possibility of a broken leg for the elderly man.

So I wasn't expecting anything but maybe a pleasant exchange. Surprisingly, the old fellow had a really sharp mind and we kind of went toe to toe to the amusement of his companions. He would quip and I would counter.

There was the rare loud customer at the bar that night who was annoying everyone near him. Rich dude looked at me when I served their drinks and commented rather protectively, “Is he giving you any trouble?”

I replied, “No, I was tempted to give him a nasty look, but I saw he all ready owned one.”

Rich dude loved it, clapped his hands in delight. They prepared to leave for dinner and when I returned his change(which he pocketed), he slipped a couple of bills into my hand on the sly.

Thinking it was two bucks, I was still quite impressed for he was famous for leaving zero tip. After he left, I saw it was a twenty and a ten. The bar tab was only twenty dollars, he had tipped more than the bill. Stunned would put it mildly.

I would like to say that he became a regular and paid my way thru college but the next time I saw him at a function, he had no idea who I was. Some impressions just don't last. I've pretty much perfected that.

He has been gone for a long time now. Today if you listen to NPR, a lot of the programs you hear are paid for by his foundation. The foundation is also involved in many wonderful grants from the arts to human rights. He may have been frugal in business but he was quite the philanthropist in death and as far as I was concerned, he is locked in my memory banks as a witty man and one heck of a tipper.


  1. I love your adventures in life, thanks for sharing them. How long did you work at this particular lounge?

  2. Your life has been truly rich in so many ways. I'm so glad you you write about it!

  3. Dear Patti,
    Your memory bank is chock full of delight. I love it when you share it with us. That phrase, "I was tempted to give him a nasty look, but I see he already had one," is a true "Patti-ism." I'm always excited when i see you have a new post. I'm addicted to your Patti-isms. What a life you've had!!!!

  4. Patti, you have a million stories and they ought to go into a book!!

  5. Love your stories. I too worked in banking and was one of the starving "titled". ...and BTW, the "wives" of the famous/rich are often lousy tippers too! I don't get it???

  6. Your jobs, a number taken for survival in paying the bills, really are gutsy but your made the most of them.

    I had a few jobs like that, but not as interesting..

    My fagher I perceived somewhat that way. He worked for less than magnificant pay as manager of small lumber yards. somehow out of pay and bonuses, He mamaged to buy insurance and small health polcies on each of us as tots, himself and mother, and a nice house, and gentlemen's farm.

    He always had money he could lend us as young adults who did not managae nearly as well, and also friends we never knew about until he died. We dared no repay him!

    After his death we learned he paid for prescriptions wheh the person could affort them. Drugstores then had personal accounts nor many credit cards.

    He bought an anuity which was to be our inheritance. He his only time pay purchase was the house. Everything else was CAS.>

    He was a rare cash pay in a nursing home because we kids who could have finaggled a way to put him on Medicaid, and same a lot of money for our inheritance, KNEW he would never approve of it, so we did it his way. Our consciences are clear, even if our pockets may be emptier.And I don't miss a penny.

    What did I do with my part of the annuity? I paid off all our debts and adopted his philosophy--pay as you go.

    Plus their was a small amout for a few CDs with we boughht, along with a few from my husband's back pay for a VA disability. We are rich, but only have bought cars on time and paid off early since he died.

    He was always critical of my spendthrift days, so I pray he knows I learned my lessons, albeit late.

    He still might not have approved what we spend for, but it is paid with cash.

    Come to thing of it, he could have saved some more on that pony that threw me in the cactus.

  7. Half a lifetime ago I too worked in a hotel bar, for about the same reasons.
    No rich and famous types, but a lot of rocket scientists. Huntsville, Alabama was full of them during the 60's.
    One reserved, astrophysicist and I became friends. Why I'll never know.
    Perhaps it was my outgoing personality.
    He owned his own plane and invited me on short one day flying jaunts to other states.
    I had a room-mate who thought it best to tag along. At least in the beginning.
    {She, Miss Peg, before going to to apply for a job had bought herself a blow-up bra, and in her nervousness had given herself perhaps a bit more bust than she had intended, but once hired felt she had to maintain.}
    So, we're up in the air, it's a nice day for flying and you could see for miles.
    I knew Miss Peg was a little uptight about the whole adventure and was quite talkative so I did not pay much attention until she hit me on the shoulder and made me look at her problem. The air pressure in the cabin of the plane had caused her blow up bra, to increase so much in size she was afraid it would blow up period.
    Explain that to a guy on your first date!

  8. Great story.

    My favorite job was at a ski resort, free skiing, free booze, free pizza!

    We never quite know where life is going to take us next, do we?

  9. People certainly are amazing to watch. There's no way to be prepared for what happens next. I have no doubt you were very good with come backs.

  10. That was a very great encounter especially you didn't expect any tip from him! Great story as always!

  11. "In those days, bankers were supposed to somehow eat prestige. Banks often gave titles in lieu of a raise. I found titles had zero calories and less taste."

    I had an instructor at a Community College I attended for Real Estate Finance Courses who was a Vice President at our local bank.

    He told us one night that if we ever passed the bank at 5:30.P.M. on a Friday afternoon in July, when the temperature was 95 degrees, and we saw a man cutting the hedges, he was probably a Vice President.

  12. What a wonderfully delightful story girl. You bring so much from your life to ours. Thank you sweetie!

    God bless ya and have the most amazing day!!!

  13. What a great story! I loved the "but I saw he already owned one" line. I think one reason some people are more generous after death is because they're afraid they might lose it or need it in life, but that's just a guess. Congrats on the mega tip!

  14. Apparently, banks haven't changed all that much. lol

  15. Miss Dazey,
    Thank you. I worked during the season only for a couple of years. Summers were too slow and were my play time.

    Thank you. I try to only write about the unusual folks so as not to totally bore you all.

    Thank you so much. Never thought of them as Patti-isms-- pretty sure I have plagiarized from some one or some book but I can't remember where. Therefore I will pretend they are mine. Thanks.

    Thanks Judy but I have so much trouble coming up with a passable post, can't imagine the agony of producing a book. Love ya for thinking so however.

    Ha-ha, those titles really have no taste do they? I guess the people with money have it because they don't give it away for any reason. I'd rather be poorish.

    What an amazing father you had. Kind of reminds me of my brother in law I just lost. How sweet he was to do all those things anonymously.
    Important lesson he handed down.

    That is so priceless and really embarrassing for your roommate. I heard airline stewardess had the same problem when they came out. At least he knew you were real.

    Rocky Mountain Woman
    Wow, I have never been to a ski resort, working there must have been a blast. Lucky you.

    Thanks and you are right about the unexpected. Comebacks are like muscles, they need exercised. Right now I am pretty flabby.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks Wil, guess I should have framed the bills huh?

    No truer words were ever spoken though it probably would have been a lady VP cutting the hedge. The men made a lot more though still not great.

    Thank you for thinking so lady. I sometimes fear I am putting everyone to sleep.

    Thanks. Sometimes I think they do it to keep the kids from getting all of it and becoming worthless bums.

    Gosh, I hope they have gotten a tad better.

  16. Patti, you always make me laugh and think a bit. Thanks.

  17. One of my daughters returned to college after having a child (her husband decided he wouldn't work for a year or so - now her ex husband) but at the time he stayed home and kept the baby while she went to school during the day and waited tables at night. A local rich dude left her a $50 tip one night and she still remembers him for that. Because of her work she tips very well now - says she knows how hard they work. :) blessings, marlene

  18. Great story. I hope you didn't spend that tip all in one place. Thanks for the smile - it was perfect.

  19. What a wonderful story. So you were a hit with the old gentleman.I still say, you need tow rite a book of your adventures. Thanks for your visits.

  20. That was a good story and a very funny reply! Too bad it can`t be properly translated into German or I would use it! Haha. I came here from Friko, must read some more!

  21. Patti, your a treasure. Seems most of us have had a few odd jobs. I worked nights waiting tables in college, tips & a free meal, wow, that was forever ago.

  22. marciamayo,
    I am so glad I do. Almost all of my posts are tongue in cheek and meant to be light reading.

    Wow, I would have framed a $50 tip. I know how she feels. Once you work for tips, you remember and tend to over tip. Without the tips, the pay is pitiful and the work demanding.

    Pretty sure I blew it foolishly which is why I am not loaded today but I have had fun.

    Thanks so much and I am glad you, Judy and lostworld think so. This is as close as I will get. I am so well aware of my limitations.

    Southwest Arkie,
    So glad you do. Hope you didn't blow away last night. The winds were howling here in the north central part.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and welcome. Curious what part doesn't transalte.
    Will check your blog now.

    I did actual waitress work also in college and hated the food service part. That is really hard work. I liked my customers mellowed by alcohol.

  23. Wonderful story ...serving the public was such fun and definately keeps the brain on alert ...well for those who have plenty of cells lol I used to love to put down those who thought they were smarter than me because, at the time I worked in retail.... their faces were a picture when they actually realised what I had said, xx

  24. Neat post, Patti.... Two of my three sons have made boo-koo's of money by being waiters or bartenders... In fact, my oldest son and his wife are in the Food Service Business (Restaurant Management) ---and they make more in tips than they do in salary... Those two do really well..... I can certainly understand why you enjoyed that job--and how you made so much money doing it...

    Hope you have had a great week. I am trying to catch up..... It's HARD... ha

  25. This is my third time here to read this great post. Each time I have come I was interrupted and a few hours getting back Yes!! I finally got to read it all the way through. Great story. I love reading your stories. Thanks, for sharing them. Hugs

  26. Great story Patti. You've had such interesting jobs. I enjoy reading about your adventures.

  27. Patti, I`m sure we`re much alike. People who are cheerful understand each other all over the world, even with no common language. You asked why I could not translate your funny sentence. It is because the word "look" has two meanings in English - the look you give and the looks you have. So if I throw you one, you can`t catch it in German. I must ask Friko if she can do a better translation than: "Ich war in Versuchung, ihm einen fiesen Blick zuzwerfen, aber dann sah ich, er sah schon so scheu├člich genug aus."
    Nice to have met you!

  28. Angie,
    It really does improve the quickness of the mind to work with the public doesn't it?
    The differences in all the people are what keeps it fresh.

    I do know what you mean. I have a 40 year old nephew who parks cars on week ends in Palm Beach and makes in two night what he makes the rest of the week as a fishing boat captain.

    Now if I could just learn brevity, it wouldn't take so many trips. Glad you were able to persevere. Thanks.

    Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    Thank you so much. I have had a variety.

    Thank you so much for the translation. We do have a difficult language and now I understand why it just wouldn't translate. I am just grateful I am not having to learn English.

  29. You sure have had a lot of interesting experiences Patti....And so very many varied jobs. I love reading your story's, my dear....
    Having worked in Clubs/Bars myself as a young person--as a singer, I know it can be hazardous in some ways. In retrospect, I feel very lucky that I never got into a really bad situation....

  30. Love the way you express yourself. You could put your stories together to create a collection of short stories and I think there would be interest in it.

  31. Well, I am going to try again. I wrote a comment to outspace and doubt I can duplicate it.

    The rich dude is a strange way reminded me of my father whom I thought a tight beyond reason. Of course he married and adopted two children and had a son during the Great depression. I've heard talk of oatmeal 7 days a week 3x a day plus one set of nickel silver forks and knives, etc. but more as a matter of fact as others had no oatmeal.

    But he worked his entire life as manager of small lumber yard chains with small salaries and small bonuses, put two children through colleege, bought a home and gentlemen's farm paying case for everything but the house. He had an equity for us kids as a inheritance. But he severely criticised his grown children's way with money, especially me.

    When he died in tribute and acknowledgement his way was better than mine, I cut up the credit cards, paid off the balances, and put the remainder in CDs. And now we live much like him, cash on the barrellhead, except cars which we pay off in 3 years. Mine has beeen MINE now for a year and it was an expensive hybrid. My husband's, God willing, will be his in May.

    From eternity I hope he knows I finally reformed my wicked ways.

    We also found out he was much more generous than we perceived. He paid person;s prescription bills, and other items when he knew it was right thing to do. There were other such instnances.

    I'm not going to re-read and edit this so it does not fly away, too!!!!!!!

  32. I've worked as a restaurant and cocktail waitress in the past and always enjoyed those jobs, when I left work each night the job stayed there. If my legs and back would hold out now I'd go back to it but sadly they won't. I've always heard the rich stay rich because they are tight with their money, so glad you were surprised by the big tip he gave, seems since he gave it on the sly he didn't want to ruin his 'reputation' of not giving tips. Ha.

  33. OOLOH
    Me too Naomi. The drunk in my story was loud but not dangerous. We were quite lucky to have a nice clientele as I am sure you did.

    Thank you so much but probably no more than a handfull would be interested.

    I did publish your earlier comment but this one explains better how you adopeted his ways. I am sure your Daddy would be proud of you as you obviously and should be of him. He was quite a guy.

    Linda Starr,
    You and me both. Could never do it today, especially food service which is much harder and more physical. We sure earned our money.

  34. Unfortunately, my best quips are thought of well after the situation...I have great ones, but can't seem to think on my feet with them fast enough -- fun post.

  35. I Wonder Wye,
    Do I ever know what you mean. With out exercise, my comebacks usually are a day or so late. Thanks.