Diary of a Dollar by Caroline Roy

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5. Cassie

Dear Diary,

I made it to a barber shop. Short version: Hipster gets change in cab, goes to barber, leaves change as tip. The longer one is that my cab driver is going to David’s Barber Shop in Brooklyn Heights. Not for David’s famous Brooklyn Fades. Not for the fresh hot towel after the shave. But for leaving a tip at David’s. David’s is the best place to leave a tip.

When David opened his barber shop in the late 90ies, he knew little about people. All he wanted was his own business. All he knew was how to give a sharp, clean male haircut, and that it’s important to provide a hot towel in less than two minutes after the job is done. Sticking to those rules consistently built his reputation in the community and beyond.

One of his regular customers is his brother Josh. Occasionally Josh comes to the shop and will bring his brown Labrador Cassie. Cassie is happiest next to the counter with her front legs stretched out and her snout resting between her paws on the floor. Whenever someone walks towards the counter, Cassie’s eyes follow their every movement. As a person comes closer, Cassie’s forehead will wrinkle as her eyes roll up.

One day after Josh had his cut, he got a round of coffee from the place next door and stayed for a while to chat with his brother on the brown leather sofa by the window. Whenever David got to work on a customer, Josh flipped through magazines or played with his phone.  That evening, like every evening, David counted tips to divide the cash for his staff. He noticed that it was a bit more than the usual $25 bucks per person. Today, it was $38. What a good day, even at the end of the month!

A few weeks later, Josh left Cassie with David for a couple of days. Cassie came to the shop with him. The staff loved having Cassie around to spoil her with attention. Great for the atmosphere.

David found a record $49 per person in tips that evening. Why do people want to get rid of their cash so badly? When the tip exceeded $50 the next day, the penny dropped. Cassie. It must be that dog. David put a jar with dog treats on the counter. Now customers can settle the bill, leave a tip and give Cassie a treat. That evening, tips amounted to $52 per staff member.

I heard that story from my cab driver, who himself learned this from taking a customer there. Ever since, he’s been a customer himself and now it is my turn to join Cassie’s tip jar.

Cassie has become an institution in Brooklyn Heights, and her now legendary look is so arresting that customers forgive the strategic placing. Also, they know that the staff always buy treats for Cassie. It goes to show: emotions make money go round.

Anyway, I get separated from my two taxi-friends to join a ten and two twenties this evening. We are the tip that’s being paid David’s staff member, the chain-smoking Anita.

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