Monday, September 19, 2011

It's my birthday - what can I get for free?

This post will serve as both a mini-rant and a genuine post. Being a Winnipegger, I of course love free things. However, as someone who has spent years working in the service industry, I hate people who just want free stuff because it's their birthday. I mean, really, it should be your mom that gets something free - she's the one who had a tough day xx years ago. As a server, there is almost nothing that you dread more than a squeal coming from the table and someone saying "like, omg, it's his birthday, do you guys like do anything for birthdays???!!" Assuming it's someone middle aged, the omg and like can be omitted, but the vibe is the same. The more the table expects you to do for them is directly related to what they are likely to tip. For example, the table that wants you to dress up and play some silly character that's part of a running joke (this really happened to me, and yes, I went along because in theory it should have paid off well for me) and sing/dance/give free everything will tip 7-10% if you're lucky. The table that quietly celebrates a birthday complete with cards/presents etc. but never specifically tells the server that it's someones birthday - probably more in the range of 15-20%. Yes Winnipeg, 15-20%. Get over it. That is what it's supposed to be. Not 10%. However the longer version of this rant is for another post.

So, tomorrow I celebrate being 29 with yet another year of experience (although, 23 was my favourite year so I prefer to pretend I'm holding there) and I'll be darned if I can think of where to get me some free birthday goodies. Of course all the chain restaurants will do something - Montana's would make me wear the cootie infested moose horns and sing and give me some sort of dessert if memory serves, CRApplebee's would also make their poor servers sing and bring me dessert, Old Spaghetti Factory same deal. Tony Roma's is slightly more clever, they give you a card to come back for a free appetizer on your NEXT visit, and The Keg, my general exception to my I hate chain restaurant rule, would give me a slice of their fantastic Billy Miner Pie. If I was in North Dakota I could visit every Manitobans favourite quasi-Mexican restaurant, Paradiso. Paradiso gets points from a server standpoint for only providing free dinner on the actual day of your birthday, ID required - I don't know if you've noticed, but on Friday/Saturday night at a chain restaurants it's EVERYONE'S birthday.... coincidence? Not likely.

One of my absolute favourite places in the city to nosh, fude, also does a free birthday dinner, but I keep putting off joining their VIP club thing (which you need to do) because my friends are all to cheap frugal practical cheap to ever want to eat there on a regular basis, so I always figure I won't get to take advantage of it. I seem to recall a few years ago that a car wash somewhere in the South End would give you a free car wash on your birthday, and I think Dutch Maid did free ice cream.

It seems to me that years ago there were a lot more places that offered something free on your birthday, maybe I'm wrong, please comment if you know of one that I have missed, or a favourite from days gone by. In any case, tomorrow, I'll be the one opening presents (hopefully) with a great group of friends who unless they wish for death, will not dare mention my birthday to the server. If that establishment offers something for birthday folk and the server takes it upon his or herself to provide it - so be it (and a bigger tip).

So what is the moral of this post? Well, basically if there is free stuff out there because it's your birthday, obviously take advantage of it, after all, it would almost be wrong as a Winnipegger not to; however, don't be obnoxious about it, take your free stuff with no singing and dancing (the staff will appreciate it, you're not 7 years old after all) and tip appropriately and we can all get along :) onto some pre-birthday Bailiey's....


  1. My dog Lilly will give you free face kisses !

    Once you hit about 35 you ignore free birthday stuff as you really don't want to acknowledge birthdays anymore, even with free schmidt tossed in !

    Does Spag Factory still do the free peppermint ice cream ? Surely, they must.

  2. Hey, don't know any free stuff, but wish you a great birthday!!

  3. @MrChristian - it's spumoni and yes they do :) Although, I think all Old Spag does is sing to you with your dessert that is already included with your meal. Free face kisses from Lilly... maybe I'll hold off until I need some wrinkle filler, slobber does that right?? ;)

  4. The Nook on Portage Ave offers a free meal off their menu up to $20 with the purchase of any beverage :)