A while back we had a waitress I’ll call Sue. Initially she seemed like a good worker, but, after a few weeks, her true work ethic became glaringly apparent. Unwilling to work her way up the totem pole, she felt she was entitled to the best shifts, always came late, did minimal side work, and somehow managed to leave before everyone else. But when Sue was on the floor she made a bundle in tips. Why?
Sue was twenty-two and drop dead gorgeous.
I’m not talking run of the mill cute. Sue was Playboy Bunny/pornstar/supermodel amazing looking. Her sex appeal was a living breathing palpable force. Ernesto, one of the sous chefs, turned into a quivering lump of guacamole whenever she entered the kitchen. Sue could transform grown men into eager to please little boys and subdue women into awestruck silence. Well aware of her “assets,” Sue used them to the utmost.
One day during the summer, at the start of the shift, Sue comes up to me.
“Can I leave early tonight?”
“Why?” I ask warily.
“Because I’m going to the shore with (Insert rich guys name here) and he wants to get there by 10pm,” Sue explains.
“We’re busy tonight. I’ll probably need you,” I say.
“But he really wants to pick me up early.”
“Good for him,” I snort.
“Please,” Sue pouts.
Sue puts her purse on the table. “But I’ve already packed my bag,” she says with a mischievous smile.
“You put all your stuff in that thing?” I ask in amazement.
Sue reaches into her bag and pulls out an electric blue bikini, a slinky one piece miniskirt, a thong, and a pair of high heels.
“You see I’m all ready to go,” she whispers slyly.
Goddamn. This girl packed all her stuff into a small purse. I’m not immune to Sue’s charms. The thought of her in that bikini gets my mind racing. But then again that’s exactly the effect she was going for.
“Talk to me later,” I say excusing myself. I need a cold shower.
The night is, of course, crazy busy. Sue works the floor and makes a ton of cash. Around nine o’clock she comes up to me again.
“My boyfriend’s outside. Can you finish up my last table so I can go?”
I look out the window. Her “boyfriend” is in his forties and drives a Porsche.
I glance at my watch. Truth be told, the other waiters are hungry for cash and wouldn’t mind picking up her slack. I have no reason to keep her here.
“What’s going on with your last table?” I ask.
“Oh it’s a bunch of guys. They’re almost finished.” Sue says.
“Ok you can go.”
Sue happily runs downstairs to change. I go over to the POS computer. The check on Sue’s last table is $300. I transfer it to my number.
When Sue returns she’s in her miniskirt and high heels. The effect is stunning.
“Well have a nice time,” I say appreciatively.
“Thanks,” she replies, “You can give me that table’s tip the next time I see you.”
“I’m sorry what did you say?” I ask dumbfounded.
“You can give me the tip from those guys on Monday.” she clarifies.
“Uh – no.”
“What?” Sue stammers in disbelief.
“If you leave early the tip’s mine,” I tell her.
“But those guys are gonna leave me a big tip.” Sue protests.
“Thanks for the money,” I reply, “Appreciate it.”
“You can’t do that,” Sue exclaims.
“Nothing in this world’s free darling.”
I hold out my hands like a scale and weigh out her options. “Boyfriend or money?” I tease.
Sue’s face flushes a deep red.
“Money or boyfriend? I say moving my hands up and down. I start to hum the tune from Jeopardy. I know, I know – I can be a real prick sometimes.
The boyfriend impatiently raps on the window and points at his watch.
Sue pulls on her lower lip. Looking at me seductively she says, “You’re just kidding. I know you’ll give me the tip.”
I cross my arms and stare into her big blue eyes.
“Why on earth should I let you leave early and still give you the tip from that table?” I ask.
Sue thinks about that for a moment. She’s struggles to find an answer. Finally she says,
“Because I’m pretty?”
I can hear Betty Friedan rolling in her grave. I laugh out loud.
“You’ve got to be shitting me.”
Sue’s face hardens into a brittle mask. Suddenly she’s not pretty anymore.
“I’ll tell Fluvio you’re stealing my tips,” she hisses.
“Fluvio will give me your tip himself,” I shoot back.
‘That’s not fair,” she yelps.
“Life’s not fair babe.”
“And I thought you were a nice guy,” she says.
“You shouldn’t confuse being a nice with being a tool.”
“I can’t believe your taking my money,” she stammers.
“Sue, to be honest, I’m tired of your bullshit,” I say, “and your social life is your problem.”
Sue storms out.
I finish Sue’s table. The guys leave her, or rather me, $100.
“Make sure the girl gets that,” one of the men burbles.
“But of course sir,” I say slipping the C Note into my pocket.
After the work the staff pile into a bar for drinks. Thanks to Sue’s largesse the drinks are on her. I explain to Fluvio what happened.
“If she asks me for that tip she’s in for big surprise,” he says.
“She’s cute but she’s a pain in the ass,” I say sipping my beer.
“She’s never happy with her schedule,” Fluvio ruminates.
“Since she’s so busy at night why don’t you assign her to lunch shifts?” I ask.
Fluvio smiles. Lunch shifts are a waiter’s death sentence.
“Permanently,” I add.
“I think I will” Fluvio agrees. We toast each other.
Sue quit the next week. Ernesto was miserable.
Whether you’re a boy or a girl – looks can only take you so far.
And I am not a tool.