Uncle Ben And His $100 Bills

The argument for relaxing about your day-to-day income and having confidence that things balance out in the end, Exhibit A:

Uncle Ben (as in Benjamins, aka $100 bills) came in to Michael’s today. I’ve known Uncle Ben for about ten years. He’s local to the beach town where I’ve lived the last eight years (before that I lived in an adjacent beach town). He got his name because no matter what his check totaled, he always tipped at least a hundred bucks. Additionally, he’d spread around $100 bills to the valet, the bussers, the cooks, the maitre’d/host, and the bartender. Uncle Ben.

He’s in the oil business. And business is good. But that didn’t stop him, even when gas was a dollar a gallon, as it was briefly in 2002. He is the waiter’s angel.

My earlier contact with him was here in Beach Town at the Italian Restaurant where I worked. I was beneficiary of his largess six or ten times during that period. We formed something of a light bond in those years. He’s an amateur musician, so we found some common ground talking about music and bands and gossip about him hanging out with Bob Seger. He knows me by name when he sees me anywhere, even outside my places of work. By coincidence, my lunch job at Michael’s (a 30 minute commute from Beach Town) also put me right in his realm. Turns out Michael’s has long been one of his big spots to visit over the years.

So I was having a very nice lunch anyway (I would have walked with $213 with out running into Uncle Ben) when it was reported that he was having a business meeting on the patio. I went out to say hello. He said he’d catch up with me later – clear indication that he was busy. This wouldn’t be one of the usual glad-handing, catching up on life visits.

I didn’t bother them. A few hours later, Uncle Ben told his waitress to go back into the restaurant and count up every single person working, from back-of-house on up to managers.

She reported back, and he peeled off thirty-seven $100 bills. ‘Tell everybody Merry Christmas, from me.’

I thanked him later as he came inside to visit the restroom.

So I walked with $313.

To my first point, the previous two or three weeks saw me averaging $80-90 a shift, about 15% below my usual nut. Now? I’m at about $175 per, this current week. Average the last month in with this week and I’ll be at about $105 per for the whole period.

You’ve got to be calm about the bad tips and the slow days, because it does even out. The only people for whom it doesn’t even out are the ones who let the slow periods destroy their demeanor. Their bad attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they won’t see a decent tip for weeks.

That was yesterday. Today I had another Banquet Gig at Michael’s. It’s likely that at least through the holidays I’ll be working one a week. Today’s was pretty easy. I served a party of 10 myself. They were pitching their 401k fund management company to some people who control such things for their respective companies. The hosts spent some time going over the entire text of Warren Buffet’s most recent editorial about Buying American. I’d read the article when he first published it last month. I like his stuff.

At any rate, I did a nice job and the hosts felt like it was a successful deal. Pooling with the Banquet in the other room, I ended up making $83.

Tonight I work at Carney’s. Let’s hope we get some business.


2 thoughts on “Uncle Ben And His $100 Bills

  1. foodserviceninja Mon, March 23, 2009 / 8:12 pm

    I just got to this post and your completely on point here. I recently had some liquid get into my comoputer case and fry part of my motherboard. This cause a small shopping spree at Fry’s (yeah they arent just in Cali). I blew about $300 on a new case, motherboard, and cpu chip. I wont need to upgrade except for better RAM or a vid card IF I get to VISTA for a op system for possibly 3+ years.

    This shopping happened on a Monday afternoon followed by a lousy week of tips and shifts to boot. Im at a new job and only beat my worst week to day by $20. Next week rolls by and Im up well enough I can almost make rent for the next month and I have gotten all the bills paid for the previous month. I also had a much better schedule for the 2 weeks since the crappy one.

    I just hope the scheduling continues to be nice.

  2. waiternotes Mon, March 23, 2009 / 11:34 pm

    Ninja, I’d love to talk to you in person! Fry’s is the best place around if you’re somewhat geek-inclined. Pick and choose, and you can get really good deals. Also, isn’t it fun when you *have* to get new gear? Also, I recommend doing the upgrade including Vista. I’ve found the OS to be extremely stable. Initially irritating, however, getting used to the ‘security’ pop-ups every time you try to install something.

    Thanks for reading. And thanks even more for commenting.

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