I’m a Seriously O.C.D. Money Freak – Cash Handling Edition

I’m a seriously obsessive, compulsive freak. It’s not my fault… It’s my Mom’s. She’s an over-the-top, O.C.D. nightmare times ten and I, for better or worse, inherited a lot of those qualities. I rate myself right about in the average tier of the disease’s spectrum. Admittedly, getting freaky-deaky with organizational skills does come in handy when behind the bar – except when it doesn’t.  Case in point: sharing a register with others.

Above, is a picture of my personal drawer at the end of a shift.

I may be a relative grandpa in my field, or at least the type of venue I work most [clubby/trendy], but shit – I still get routinely hired at high-end, busy, celeb-packed bars, and I still get called to work special events at various clubs and lounges. Those events run the gamut from tame rich-kid wedding receptions to magazine publishing bashes to all out sex fests.

That last kind of event is one which always requires – how shall we say, umm…  “special needs kids” (a.k.a., good looking dudes) with a high tolerance for certain visuals.  Often, they’re gay parties. Whatever the need, I do get called from time to time. The “special requirements” change here and there but one common theme is that the clientele and host often demand GQ’ish type barmen. More often than not, that involves working shirtless. Not many barkeeps have the required physique to be able to pull that off, let alone the balls (sometimes literally) or personality to meat the objective – so to speak.

If you’re not from New York City, San Franciso, Los Angeles, Miami Beach or some other big city, hosting large congregations/concentrations of extremely joyous and liberated men who gravitate towards each other, and you’re not “au courant” on how they get down at clubs, then boy – do you have a big fat schlong of a surprise coming your way. Gay parties are not like your party. Oh people drink, eat, dance and socialize – sure. But what really separates the two is sex. I mean rabid, open, and frequently sex. Yes, right there in the bathrooms, in front of the bar, on the lounge couches, and smack dab in front of (and sometimes on top of) the bar top – Health Department be damned. Hizzonor Giuliani may have shuttered the previously sex-friendly bath houses and some of my favorite clubs like Limelight, Palladium, The Tunnel, and Sound Factory, but he never so much as put a single dent in gay men’s libidos. Now look, this obviously doesn’t apply to all gay men in all communities. I’m simply relaying what I’ve witnessed first-hand as a barkeep and life-long New York City resident.

That said, gay men are my absolute favorite group to work for. You know why? Nightclub promiscuity aside, (1) the music is always far better (2) rowdiness is a non-issue and (3) they tip like a motherfucker. I can make more money from midnight to 5am in this type of setting, than I can from 7 – 4 at in a regular bar environment. I can’t speak for the goings-on over on the female-only side of the house as I, being a dude, am for obvious reasons not frequently called upon to work those events – sigh…

Shit… I digress – again.

Anyway, when I work the club nights, the ownership, management or event coordinator usually has no actual/practical bartending experience and in plain English, usually doesn’t know what the fuck he/she is doing. Among other disasters, that fact manifests itself in things like: (1) running out of Red Bull, Gatorade, and bottled water two hours into the party (2) insufficient or over-staffing and (3) sharing registers.

This last one is one of the most egregious sins in bartending. You simply cannot expect busy bartenders, let alone nightclub bartenders, to share a cash drawer – particularly a point-of-sale system which requires extensive categorizing. Doing so is 100% guaranteed to cost the bartenders’ tip money as well as costing the house significant lost revenue. You quite simply cannot do the volume you need to when 2, 3 or 4 bartenders are queued up trying to ring in drinks. It can be disastrous. It creates an environment ripe for theft. Furthermore, there is no one to blame but  everyone should there be a problem – namely, a cash shortage, lost credit card, etc.

So, back to my O.C.D. madness. Among other idiosyncrasies, I can’t focus if my cash isn’t in proper order. By that I mean that all my bills have to be in smallest to largest sequence, and each denomination must be (1) completely de-crumpled (2) faced the same way and (3) pointing the same direction. It’s a habit of mine no matter how busy I am. It’s not just something I do at the end of a shift. That’s not limited to just my drop. At the end of the evening, my tips and pooled tips must be organized the same fashion to facilitate easy counting and distribution or I’ll go bonkers. I know, I know… I’m completely cray. But I assure you that in most cases, the back-of-house operations, or whoever has to mange counting all the various “drops” and make bank deposits, really appreciates it. Even if one or two operators/managers don’t care, care. I don’t do it for them. I do it for me. 

Don’t you know I’m loco ese?

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