I was getting ready for happy hour Friday and telling her about my no-spend plan for the bar: eat before I go, order water, hope no one notices.
“Go ahead,” she said. “Order a beer.”
“But Mom, that’s the whole point. I’m not supposed to spend,” I said. “It’s a sacrifice that will make me realize how much of a privilege it is to spend.”
She wasn’t convinced.
I headed over to the bar on my beater bicycle, the one I bought off Craigslist for $50. It is so old and heavy I never worry about someone cutting the lock. At the bar I kept my eyes off the fried calamari my friends had ordered and asked for a water. No one said anything or seemed to care I was “starting with a water.” Struck up a conversation about food blogging, making videos, and Ultimate Frisbee.
The waitress came back with the next round of drinks but had forgotten my water. I didn’t say anything. After she came back a second time without my water, a friend reminded her. She brought it promptly.
When it was time to go I said goodbye and grabbed my bag. I was halfway out of the bar when I remembered I had forgotten to tip the waitress, as reader Terry had berated me to do in a comment.
Do you think bars are in business so you can sit there and visit? At least purchase an ice tea, sometime. That table is costing them money and the poor waitress tips. You are not the only one who has it hard but don’t make it harder on others.
Terry was harsh but his/her last sentence rang true. And it goes back to the frugal v. cheap debate. I may chose to live frugally by going on a spending moratorium, but when I force my choices on others I become cheap.
I turned around, pulled out the dollar I had brought just for this purpose, and found the waitress.
“Thank you for bringing the water,” I said.
When she saw the dollar her face turned sad.
“Oh, thank you so much,” she said in a way that I knew meant my single dollar made a difference.
It was the second time I broke the moratorium and I’m glad I did.
I don’t recommend making a regular practice of going to bars and only ordering water, but if you are on a spending moratorium, recently laid-off, or in serious money trouble, it is possible to go to a bar, enjoy your friends and spend next to nothing. If you have a guilty conscience about taking up space, go with hard drinking friends who rack up a booming tab and tip your waitress.