Tipping in America

A Downtown bar in Miami – I find the cool darkened interior and the myriad of different sports playing on the numerous television screens appealing.  It is an environment where one does not appear out of place without friends in attendance.

Aware that Happy Hour is soon to end, I order two pints of Bud Light, a bargain at five dollars.  I hand over the money to the barman and return my attentions to the television.  The barman does not move.  I glance in his direction.  He departs muttering something under his breath.

The Following Evening – I walk into the same bar and order a pint of Bud Light.  I am in the process of sitting down when the barman (the same one from yesterday) informs me that he will not serve me and I am to leave.  Aware from several previous visits to this establishment that he is quite a jovial character, I assume this is some form of American humour that I am unfamiliar with.  Sitting down I say, ‘very funny’ and then repeat the order.

‘Out,’ shouts another man sitting at the far end of the bar.  Now conscious of the fact that this is not a jape, I am about to protest when I notice that the bearded and heavily tattooed man looking savagely at me is remarkably similar to one of those biker gang members’ with right wing tendencies I had seen on the television.  I leave the bar.  The barman shouts ‘butt head’ as the door closes behind me.  Utterly confused I am half way down the street before I remember that I had omitted to give a tip the previous evening and it must be this that resulted in their consternation.  This had been an oversight on my part and I scold myself for committing what is a cardinal sin in the USA.

A Miami Heat game is about to start and keen to watch it I decide to go to the only other bar I know in the immediate vicinity.  I approach the premises with trepidation, as the previous week prior to the visit to Mexico I had been involved in a minor altercation here.  I had been sitting contentedly at my table watching basketball when a young woman had approached my table and unannounced dragged away the chair adjacent to mine, resulting in several of my personal effects that were resting on it falling to the ground.  With no apology forthcoming, I had unwisely in hindsight made a comment about her expansive waistline.

The comment had been poorly received and I was berated by both her and her companions sitting at a neighbouring table, in a disorderly tirade of English and Spanish.  One of the males, who turned out to be the woman’s brother, appeared to be particularly angry.  He sounded exactly like a character out of the film Scarface though fortunately he was waving around a pastelito, (a snack popular with Cubans) as opposed to an automatic weapon, like in the film.  The argument had resulted in me, rather unfairly in my opinion being ejected by the bar staff.

Back in the present I approach the bar intrepidly and ask for a pint of Bud Light.  I am alarmed on recognising the barman as the same one from that evening.  He informs me that I am not welcome.  I consider arguing but decide against it and depart sombrely.


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  • Hi Guy. If your blog is from real life experience I must appologize for the experience, but for the life of me I cannot understand why you woud order Bud Light when there are so many great micro breweries in the U.S. Just kidding. I just got back from Germany and the beer is so much better Bud Light, I’m now a fan or micro breweries. I like your writing style and wish you the best with your up-coming book.

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