The inevitable rise of the price for an ice cold domestic beer delivered in a 16 ounce aluminum bottle by a beer vendor clad in yellow concerns me. The looming threat that yelling “Keep the change!” will no longer be met with the same sincere nod of appreciation it has for years hurts my soul. I fear for the well-being and financial viability of the stadium beer vendor. Forget global warming, world hunger, and saving the penguins of Madagascar. Let’s focus on beer.
Present pricing for 16 ounce aluminum bottles of Bud, Bud Light, and Bud Select is $9 at Busch Stadium. Having shown your government issued ID showing both your date of birth and likeness to the vendor, you are then permitted to exchange US currency for a beer. Yes, you can also pay with a credit card, but don’t be that person. Simply slide a crisp 10-spot out of your Velcro wallet, hand it to the vendor, and without making it seem like a grandiose gesture indicate to vendor that he or she may indeed keep the change.
Should you care to indulge in a larger volume, find yourself too lazy to commit to additional transactions in the near future, or simply want to purchase a second item, then you may do so. Grab that mammoth skin bi-fold wallet from your unnecessarily clean khakis and snag a 20. You can choose to receive $2 in change (big jerk), $1 in change (cheap jerk), or zero change. More often than not, I see fans opting to accept zero change in favor of receiving a wet, wadded up dollar bill or two that likely has traces of a narcotic or three on it.
That’s the etiquette, and it’s one of the few forms of etiquette people like me understand and actually appreciate. I actually don’t care which fork to use first, because maybe the tines on the inner fork have a more appealing curvature than the outer fork. Yes, I could tip the valet an extra couple dollars, but he’s wearing Yeezy’s that cost more than all the shoes I own combined. It’s not that we can’t comprehend but that we don’t care.
Beer is different, and the beer vendor is the righteous bringer of cool refreshment on a day plagued by ultraviolet rays and radiant heat. The transient relationship between vendor and fan is sacred, and it’s being threatened by simple math.
At some point in the very near future, the price must increase from $9 to something more than $9, and every quarter jump in price has the potential to reduce what the beer vendor makes in change. Go to $9.25, and the change on a given transaction may be reduced 25%. Your vendor is already a first world beverage sherpa charged with carrying 185 pounds of beer up and down 18 miles of steps every game. Are you really going to expected them to carry another 15 pounds in quarters to make change?
No. No, you shan’t.
Fortunately, I have a solution that could save us all from the undocumented plague of Egypt. Increase the price of each beer, but embed a gratuity into the price. Most of us are already spending $10, so a jump to $11 won’t make me hate myself any less for drinking Bud Light. It’s a win-win-win. The effective price for each beer can move from $9 to $10, and the vendor can be guaranteed of pocketing a dollar for each one sold.
Alternatively, up the price to $10.50 each with $1 going to the vendor and $9.50 for the beer. If I’m sitting there in section 172 with my back glued to the seat thanks to my own sweat, I’m not going to hesitate to spend $11 for a beer which I pair with a dismissive wave when offered my change. The beer vendor then pockets $1.50 in gratuity for each beer sold, and I can go forward feeling like the magnanimous son of a gun I really am not.
This should happen. It needs to happen. It’s for the bluest of blue-collar workers trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Honor demands it.