Father’s Office is a decent operation. Purveyors of a sensational variety of craft beers, they employ proficient, informed staff to pour them, and offer tasty, uncomplicated food at value. Problem is, they do so, at least they did on this occasion, with such self-regard, such a sense of entitlement, that I’ve been smarting about it ever since.
But then maybe that’s as much because, while there, I made a cock of myself. It’s worth saying we’d arrived having spent the previous 15 hours or so in transit from London. I was tired and in no small part, probably, disorientated. Which wasn’t the fault of our hosts. Nor, really, was the degree to which I let their not-unreasonable or uncommon open-seating policy unsettle me to such a state of high fucking anxiety. I was spooned out, perhaps, by the way the dude on the door threw down the deal as some sort of gauntlet to run. The responsibility, I’m embarrassed to say, of being live enough to acquire the four of us the first available berth proved almost too much to bear. I broke into a fit of Englishness so awkward I was asked in no uncertain terms to ‘just relax’ by the nice girl who, under peer-pressure, I’d pestered for a provisional table share. When she and her friend indeed relinquished their spot to us, it was with a politely condescending, ironic hand on my shoulder she said, ‘It’s all yours, baby’. By ‘baby’, she of course meant ‘dickhead’.
Befitting of the format, and pertinent in the context of the unfolding story, the only thing you get served at Father’s Office tables is food, which you’ve to order at the bar. Although it’s not so much served as brought. Beers you need to get yourself. Which is totally fine. There’s a long list to look at so it’s as well you do, frankly. Less conducive to a comfortable evening is the fact you’ve to eat under the close and intensifying scrutiny of a swelling mass of folks forced to play the game we just had. Boldness and a distinct lack of social scruples wins out here. Manners will only leave you malnourished. Except if you’re two quasi attractive girls, in which case the ‘maitre-d’, presumably in the hope he might score points and subsequently get some, may well assist in procuring you a table.
When the bill landed I opted to pay with what US dollar I had on me. Which is to say with enough to cover the cost of what we’d had and, on balance of an ok evening – company notwithstanding; my friends are awesome – a conservative tip. Knowing full well that would constitute less than, as far as I’ve seen, west coast wait staff expect as a matter of fucking course, I told our server he’d been excellent as I handed over the money. To say how he appeared to accept his share of the change was ungracious is to go easy on him. He clearly felt he was better than that. He probably had been, individually. Collectively, Father’s Office, on the strength of tonight, had not. It’d been intense. Rushed and uncomfortable. And, outside of us having been politely obliged what we’d asked and now paid for, no one had really extended themselves.
So, having gesticulated something to the effect of ‘mean, motherfucking son of a bitch’, our man turned back from the register to find me still there, proffering him plastic. ‘Couldn’t help but notice you didn’t seem too happy about what I’d left. If that wasn’t good enough, mate, take more off that…’. ‘What?’. He was irritated. Self-conscious, hopefully. He should have been. I’d explained my position; I’d just landed in the country. Not only was that all I had, it was all I was inclined to give. Which is why I paid him the compliment. ‘I appreciate you sayin’ that’, he said, ‘but, just so you know, that’s a lot less than we’d expect on top of a $120 bill…’.
Different culture, different pay structure; I don’t care. Unless there’s a hint of appreciation on the part of the person looking after us that the all round experience needs to have been good, and a sense that it’s been, in part, a pleasure to deliver it, you might as well be giving alms as leaving a tip. You expected more, did you? So did I. I wanted to make a point to this guy. Like, it’s not about money, it’s about attitude. So, after we left, I walked to a cash point, withdrew some more wedge and, leaving the guys at the car, went right back. ‘I want all of this to go in your pocket’, I said, handing over way more than our evening had been worth. ‘And for the record, when I leave a tip it’s a reflection on the whole thing’.
I don’t enjoy thinking about it. It makes me anxious and I’m coy about getting cross. And, far from getting my point over, he probably just saw it as him getting his deserts. But it remains the only time I’ve ever been chased out of a bar by staff and have gratitude hurled after me down the street; ‘Hey, Pal! Pal…! Thankyou!’. Whatever, boss. I didn’t do it for you.
Nice burgers, though…
Photos courtesy of those with the presence of mind to take them. And careless enough to post them without thinking about who might use them to their own end. Cheers.