Last night I clocked out for the last time at the country club I have been working at since graduating college this past June. I knew it would be an emotional shift for me, for I was going to have to say goodbye to the members I had come to know and love over the past seven months. It was a Wednesday, so that means it was Men’s Day, and I would have the member’s signature alcoholic beverages fresh in-hand as they entered the bar.
The country club I work at is not necessarily what you think of when you hear of such an establishment. For starters, it is known as, “the poor man’s country club” of our area. There’s no pool, no tennis courts, and the interior of the clubhouse is falling apart. The only things that make it a country club is the fact that we call the members “Mr. Smith” and “Mrs. Smith,” there’s unlimited golf, and board members that run the place. We have quite the mixture of members, all of which vary in age. I tend to enjoy the elderly members who come in to play cards every Wednesday and have been doing so for the past 40 years. I do not, on the other hand, enjoy the middle-aged men who walk around with their noses in air and have big, arrogant heads.
My shift last night was pretty typical of most Men’s Days. The bar was slower than normal, given it’s the dead of winter so only the die hard members were there. I was performing my usual duties while shooting the shit and making small talk with various members, however I really wanted to chat with the one man who always sits at Whiskey Cove (the far right corner of the bar). This man has always been my favorite member despite being in his high 60s and reeking like old cigarette. My trip to Australia had been a long time coming, and he was fully aware and excited about my upcoming adventure. He had even served on the east coast of Australia when he was in the Navy. As 8 o’clock approached it was time for him to finish his last couple sips and head home. 8 o’clock also meant it was time for us to say our last goodbyes, not only for the 6 months that I was going to be in Australia, but basically for good because I do not have plans to come back to the country club. As he gave me countless compliments, wished me the best, and said farewell, he also did one more thing. He gave me one dollar as a tip. He had never tipped me before. It may seem odd that he had never done this, but a 20% gratuity charge is automatically added to the member’s bills and given to me, so there is never a need for tipping cash. Needless to say, a huge lump in my throat started to form, and one tear streamed down my face. This was followed by a full out crying session and countless hugs between the big-hearted man and myself.
As I dried my tears the night went on, and the middle-aged members were now the only ones in the bar. They were half in the bag, and their true colors were shining through via their loud, sexist, obnoxious remarks. One man in particular was belligerent and just plain rude. As I was closing down the bar and doing last call he came up to me and felt so inclined to shove a hundred dollar bill down my shirt as a “going away present.” I felt violated and uncomfortable and proceeded to tell him I didn’t want his money. He then asked me how much I made in cash tips that night, so I pointed to the dollar bill that my favorite member had given me earlier in the evening. He laughed in my face and then put the dollar bill in his pocket. Immediately after, he put on his jacket on and walked out the door to drive his drunk ass home.
I am aware that it was only a single dollar that this man took from me. I am also aware that he gave me 100 dollars as a tip. However, I was uncomfortable, saddened, and just plain pissed off. I went to tell the other bar tender what had happened and she felt bad, but ended by reminding me that I had made 99 dollars as a result. She also said, “those actions come with the territory, Amber.” She was referring to the idea that female bartenders are expected to be treated like shit, basically.
As I clocked out and drove that familiar route home for the last time, I thought about what had happened. I was angry at the asshole who shoved money down my shift and hadn’t treated me fairly during my time working at the club. However, this anger was overshadowed by my thoughts about my favorite member who had instilled so much confidence and positivity in myself. During my time spent at the country club he had made me laugh, offered me advice, and inspired me. When I got home I put the money I had made that night in the envelope where I save my cash tips. Although I had 99 dollars, I only wanted one.