“The thief steals from himself. The swindler swindles himself. For the real price is knowledge and virtue, whereof wealth and credit are signs. These signs, like paper money, may be counterfeited or stolen, but that which they represent, namely, knowledge and virtue, cannot be counterfeited or stolen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes you go out and you have fun. Other times you go out and have an experience that makes for an exceptional night. This story is one of those times. A good friend of mine and I were out at our favorite hot spot in LA. We’ve been going to this place for almost a year now because they have great food, amazing drinks, the perfect atmosphere and the staff is incredible.
We get in, grab some dinner and drinks and are having a merry time. We wanted to have a fun night to cap an already fun weekend, so our energy was high and contagious. Mixed and mingled with several groups of people, bought a few cool girls that where hanging with us drinks (we didn’t expect anything in return and they turned out to be very fun) and even wound up doing shots with the manager and one of our favorite bar tenders.
Toward 1am we go to the bar to close out our tab so we could go to another spot close by with some of the waitresses and girls we had met that night. At the end of the bar was this group of women in their 40’s that were dancing and looked like they where having a good time. As we got the bar tender to get our tab, one of the women came next to me and asked about how to get the bartender’s attention. I replied that I could get it, but that usually involved him just bringing trouble. I asked her what she planned to order as her other friend come over and she told me that she was probably going with some champagne or wine. I told her that I would suggest getting the bar’s specialty cocktail.
Her friend: “So, you buying a round of drink for us?”
Now this tipped my spidey-sense that these ladies, though older, were still trying to run girl game into getting free drinks. I had done a quick scan of their left hands and indeed, they each has large wedding rings on them. I’ll buy a drink under the right conditions, but having a married woman blatantly try to get them from me is not one of them.
Me: “I don’t know you guys that well, so I don’t think so.” I said it in a playful but firm tone. This was a test of Are you Beta? Will you let us exploit you?
The bar tender came over to take their order and the girl I was conversing with ordered 1 glass of champagne and two glasses of wine. When the bar tender asked if they needed anything else, I told them they should try the house cocktail as I closed out my tab. The girl then told the bar tender that she’d try the house cocktail. The bartender come back with 2 of them.
Woman: “We’re going to need a 3rd since there are 3 of us.” The bartender made a third one and brought it over. He then brought out a printed tab, since it had been last call.
Bartender: “Thank you ladies, that will be $50.”
The woman put on a stunned face.
Woman: “These guys should be paying for these.”
Bartender: “I heard you order these.”
She then shot me and my friend a look. At this point we had a choice: Be coerced into paying for drink we did not order, or let her deal with a situation that she created. We looked back at her firmly and unflinchingly to signal that we would not be taken advantage of. In disbelief she turned back to the bartender.
Woman: “Do you know these guys?”
Bartender: “I do. They are stand up guys. If you want I can get security and we can sort this out.”
Woman: “Get the manager.”
At this point my friend an I remained calm at the bar, standing against it relaxed and silent, waiting to see how it all was going to unfold.
Manager: “What’s the problem?”
Woman: “These guys ordered drinks for me and they are trying to get out of paying for them.”
Manager: “Well I know these guys, and they are stand up guys, so we’re going to need you to resolve this.”
She looked stunned and shocked, and seemed offended that no one was immediately taking her side.
Woman: “Well I’m not paying for these.”
Manager: “Ok, they we’ll buy them.” He then reached over and took all of the drinks back behind the bar. This infuriated the woman as she turned to my friend and me.
Woman: “You two are the most classless scoundrels I have ever encountered out of any country I have been to.”
Me: “Excellent, I was going for the record.”
My friend waved a bouncer over.
My friend: “Can you please take this away?”
The bouncer came up next to the woman.
Bouncer: “Time to go.”
He then escorted her outside and her friends joined her there.
The 3 Takeaways:
1) Hold Frame
By holding Frame and not relinquishing it, we did not allow this woman to coerce us into paying for her drinks. There have been times in the past when my friend and I would have allowed ourselves to be guilted into paying for drinks like chumps. But by holding Frame we established that we are not some random suckers that will be taken advantage of and we will not part with our hard earn money to pay for someone looking for a free ride.
2) Building venue equity is just as important
From the bartender to the manager to the doorman the message was the same: These are stand up guys (men we respect and value at our establishment) and we know who they are. This claim that she was presenting was out of character for us and as such, the entire venue had our backs. This is a powerful thing, but it’s something you have to earn. We’d been investing and building venue equity in that place for months now and it was awesome to see that good credit in full action.
3) Always approach the night with a fun attitude
I’m sorry (that I’m not sorry) that we ruined this woman’s night, but she certainly wasn’t ruining ours. We went out with the attitude that we’re going to have fun no matter what, and despite this incident, we had a great time and got an entertaining story out of it.
Now go out and have some fun you fellow scoundrels.