Just The Tip: Alex’s Lucky Day


Written by Matt Roper

He’s living in a city that is no stranger to spending and wealth but when he hears about a steakhouse customer spending an obscene amount of money on a single bottle of wine, Matt Roper can’t stop thinking about what he could do with that amount of money - and it wouldn’t be spend it on wine

My friend Alex works as a waiter in a Manhattan steakhouse where the other night – and I find this story as difficult to type out as it was to digest – a customer paid $75,000 for a single bottle of red wine. I’m going to spell those numbers out just for the sake of hammering home a point, even though my editor hates me doing it: seventy five thousand dollars. That’s almost 60 grand in pound sterling.

I generally believe that it’s not my business how anybody else spends their money – and I can be as frivolous with my own cash as the next person – but when Alex told me all of this at our neighbourhood bar over a bottle of their finest Rolling Rock (a snip at just $4) having clocked off his shift that same night, I just sort of stood there in resigned silence.

What you could do with $75,000.

But I was happy for Alex – the sweetest guy he is too – who came out of it with no less than a $3000 tip.

I am neither in a position to spend $75,000 on something which amounts to four or five small glasses of wine nor to receive the $3000 for uncorking the bottle that poured them. But clearly I am in the wrong job.

I, on the other hand, received another message in my inbox this morning from somebody asking me to work not for money but for the chance of exposure … it can  only be comedians, actors and musicians who are approached with offers like that from deluded strangers. Nobody would dare ask a chef or a waiter to work for exposure and no money, though I’d like to see them try.

But enough of me bringing my own unsolicited emails into a perfectly good bit of copy about big spenders in steakhouses in midtown Manhattan.

Vulgar displays of wealth are not unusual sights in big cities and you almost expect to see them in a place like New York but there’s something about that $75,000 bottle of wine that’s been in and on my mind ever since Alex waltzed into the bar looking like the cat that tasted the cream for the first time in its life last Tuesday night.

Unlike most Americans, Alex is accustomed to buying other people a drink from time to time – even on days when he hasn’t made preposterous amounts of money in tips – which in my book mean he deserves every last cent of that $3000.

But the things you could do with $75,000.

But would I want to be making the sort of money where the buying of a $75,000 bottle of wine would be nothing more than a barely noticeable blip in my current account? I’m not too sure. I think life would turn into an absolute nightmare and I doubt I’d produce anything, ever again.

The one thing you can say about being strapped for cash is that it’s very good for creativity and I’m sure Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Toulouse-Lautrec would agree with me. Then there’s Oscar Wilde, who in the last days of his life told the doctor attending to him – who had asked for payment for his services – that he would die as he had lived: way beyond his means.

If one miraculous day I should make millions of dollars, and should any of you see me ordering a $75,000 bottle of wine, kindly put a bullet through my gaudy little brain. But be sure to see that the waiter gets the tip first.

Matt Roper is a writer and performer based in New York City. His relationship with Lush goes back to 2011 when he performed for the muddy festival-goers of Lushfest, returning the following year to curate the line-up of the comedy stage. As he travels around the world, he shares his musings with us here in a series of writings – a sifting of thought from a restless but always seeking imagination.

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The one thing you can say about being strapped for cash is that it’s very good for creativity

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