What? You’re not buying beer as a tip for your bicycle mechanics? Well, that’s a faux pas big time. If you think about it, whether you’re an amateur or avid cyclist, your bike and your life is in literally their hands. So if they’re having a shit day and you come in and dump more shit on them, guess what? The quality of your bike repair may also be quite defecatory in nature. Or not, if they’re real pros. And if you’re taking your bike to the shop, you need them. I’m not talking about a keg a day, of course; you don’t want him/her to be drunk all the time, especially while working on your bike. The repairs could be half-assed and life-threatening. But if you’re not doing anything, you need to jump on board the beer wagon.
“No thanks, I don’t like tips” said exactly no one, ever. Someone gives me $5 bucks, I’m a happy dude! Are you one of those privileged yuppie fucks who’s in the camp of “Well, they have a job and they get paid, and if it’s not enough they should ask for a raise, and if I tip them then I have to tip everyone, and that’s madness”? Sorry, that crap don’t hold no truck with me. Peddle that weak sauce elsewhere and tip your damn mechanic. Beer or money or both — your choice.
This post is about beer tips, but a good argument could be made for tipping with cash money. Because if your mechanic is low on loot for rent, they would appreciate some greenbacks over the liquid bread. In an old post on tipping http://www.fatcyclist.com/2016/02/25/bike-mechanic-tipping-etiquette-for-dummies on the now archived but still hilarious and useful blog Fat Cyclist, good ol’ Fatty suggested tipping with cash. That lets the bike wrenchers choose what to spend it on; their own beverage, or something else.
Tip #1: First be sure to check that your mechanic even drinks. Not all bike people are beer people. A Dude may partake on occasion, but usually doesn’t. If s/he is in recovery for drinking too much, find another way to appreciate them. A chunky ankle accessory under the socks could be your first clue. Or perhaps they’re Mormon, or Muslim, or Mennonite, or allergic to hops or something. Just ask, “Hey, are you into beer?” Or, ask a colleague.
Tip #2: Everyone’s different, so be sensitive to that. You’ve established they consume adult beverages. Ask “What kind do you like?” Make a note of it in your phone or mentally and write it down later. So when it comes time to tip, you don’t have to ask again and tip them off that you’re about to give them, you know, a tip.My guy likes IPA’s, his #2 likes something else, and the retail guy up front doesn’t drink at all. He gets a gift card to the sandwich shop around the corner.
Tip #3: Don’t expect that your occasional tip gets you whatever you want. Sure, you might get to the front of the line quicker if you need a small repair in a hurry. And maybe the mechanic will be nicer, explain more what’s going on with your bike, etc. But don’t expect it or take gratitude for weakness. You’re just one of many customers, and some of them probably gift some tip beer, too. Don’t get all high and mighty and do stay humble! Give it freely, with no strings attached.
Tip #4: Do express gratitude for their service. It’s great to give them a beer, but what you’re really saying is “Thank you for keeping me safe on my bike.” So why not actually say that, or something akin to it, too? Life is short and especially with a global pandemic we’ve been reminded that mortality is a real thing. Giveyour mechanic some love and they will reciprocate. Sure, they’ll still razz you and make fun of your bike riding or what have you.
Tip #5: Cyclist and bike mechanic relationships are real, so act like that it is and respect it. I’ve known my bike mechanic for going on 10 years now. I’ve been to his house a number of times. I’ve met his wife and kids, attended a holiday party, took care of his dogs and chickens, and yes, drunk some beer. Sometimes he’ll even read a blog and reply to a text. He knows things about me, my body, my life, and my biking that no one else does. Beer is a thank you, but respect is the key.
Tip #6: Put some thought into the beer. Unless your guy or gal loves Lone Star, put some thought into what you’re buying. Usually that’s going to mean a craft beer, though not always. This time I got an assortment of a local brand for the manager and second mechanic. For the main guy, I got a six of an IPA from a local brewery that’s a few bucks more than your average American beer. I try to rotate and alternate flavors and brands, too.
Tip #6: Sometimes, you’ve gotta tip the manager, too. Make sure beer tipping is cool at the store. If not, make other arrangements. If the policy doesn’t forbid it, or it does but the manager’s cool with it, toss him a 6-pack once in a while, too.
Tip #7: Delivery is important. I got it cold and made sure it would stay that way because I know there’s a shop fridge. He wasn’t in the shop so I also made sure the manager would label it and get it to my man. I took a picture, so he knows what it is and that if any are missing, it’s his co-workers, not I. If he’s in the shop when I come by (after calling ahead), I put it in a bag that isn’t see-through to not irritate the other workers I may not have included this time. Don’t make a big production out of it, but just say, “Hey, I got you a little something to thank you for all your hard work on my bike.” Don’t wait until you need help in a hurry to tip, either. Do it when there’s no time pressure.
Tip #8: Always remember it’s just beer. You’ve still gotta pay the bill. Don’t expect that your little gift of liquid gold will bring down your price. If you feel the urge to haggle, don’t. Sure, you did something thoughtful, but they don’t owe you anything because of it. If they don’t seem appreciative, or it doesn’t get you any faster service especially during a critical breakdown with your bike, you may not be doing it right. Just ask, politely, and go with what they say.
And last but not least:
Tip #9: How often depends on how much you depends on a lot of factors. Give your bike mechanic tip beer on the regular, but not too little, and not too often. If you’re in the shop every week with another problem, you don’t have to bring beer every time. Unless of course you can afford it and want to, it probably won’t be rejected. But just once at the winter holidays is not enough either. I haven’t met too many unscrupulous mechanics, but there may be some out there that will only do a good job on your bike if you bring tip beer. You have to consider your budget, but the timing is subjective. Think about the last time you brought tip beer, and if you can’t remember when it was or what kind or what was going on with your bike, it’s probably time to repeat your tip.
In the end, tip beer for your bike mechanic may seem like a simple thing that won’t do any good. Some might consider it a hassle and not even bother. But a tip is a way to lubricate the wheels of social interaction, so that is a good thing. When your butt and life are on the line due to a bad bike repair because you were not nice to your mechanic, the onus is upon you to be nice. So do that and not only may you have a new friend for life, but more importantly, you can ease on down the road with confidence knowing your mechanic has your back, because you had theirs. Beer, it’s not just for supper. Bringing people together since 7,000 B.C.
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