Sunday, December 5, 2010

Confessions of a bartender, part II

It's Christmas party season at the golf course.  Corporations, small businesses, and large families take advantage of the holiday decorated banquet room to hold celebrations, enjoy good company as well as fine dining and drinks.  The festive atmosphere is contagious, even the bartenders get into the holiday spirit.

For the past several years the Lenzen Chevrolet auto dealership out of Chaska has held their annual Christmas party at the Ridges at Sand Creek golf course in Jordan.  This Christmas party, in particular, has become one of my favorite events to bartend.  It has become so, because of one man.

John Lenzen. 

To describe John I have to tell the story of my first experience bartending the Lenzen Christmas party.  The party traditionally takes place the first Saturday in December.  When I enter the banquet room I notice outdoor inflatable decorations dotted around the hall, Christmas trees, a table full of sporting event tickets, TV's and other prizes.  Then at each table setting there is a bag of gourmet coffee.  All these are gifts for the Lenzen employees.

At 6 o'clock the employees start to filter in and order a few drinks (which are paid for by their employer).  Mr. Lenzen comes up to the bar and orders a 5-Star Brandy and water - tall.  I pour the drink, set it in front of him and I receive a hearty thank you and a $20 bill in the tip jar.  This is a very unusual surprise, as most of the people so far have tipped very little.

"This guy is pretty generous." I reply to Scott, my colleague bartender. 

"Yeah, he ordered a drink earlier and did the same thing," says Scott.

As the employees are mingling with Christmas music in the background the chefs start to bring out a Christmas feast.  Ceasar salad, pasta salad, baked potatoes, scalloped cheesy potatoes, wild rice, green beans, seasoned chicken, barbeque ribs, and prime rib.  Never has any event, in the history of the golf course resulted in such a large spread of delicious, mouth watering food.  Oh did I mention there were appetizers beforehand and dessert after?   There was.  This cuisine doesn't come cheap.

Then, at the end of the night John surprised all of us again.  He tipped each golf course employee $50.  Not just the bartenders, but the chefs, the dishwasher, the manager, and the teenage bus staff each received a $50 bill.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Live like no one else, so you can give like no one else?"  John Lenzen personifies that phrase.  He gives like no one else.  I can't help but want to be able to give like he does.  

I think we have it backwards here.  We think of the rich as cheap, lying, arrogant bastards that have screwed the little guy on their way to the top.  Yes, there are rich people who are like that, but I choose to believe those are in the minority.  I think you would find most millionaires are like John Lenzen.  They are hardworking, honest, and treat people with respect. 

I also like to think that God blesses those who spend their money wisely.  He blesses those who know that the money isn't theirs, but HIS.  They tithe 10%, they don't buy things they don't need.  When they give and you are the recipient, you are blown away.

This December I did not work the Lenzen Christmas party, but I did work in the building on the same night.  John came up to the bar, and tipped me $40.  I told him he was the most generous guy I have ever met.  He said that in his 33 years of owning a car dealership, he has only been in the red one month.  One month.  John went on to say, "I treat the customer right, I expect a lot from my employees, and I give back to the community.  I've been blessed.  Some people, they take from the community, those people don't last long."

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