More Tales From My Wasted Yoot
I'm not quite sure what made me think of this story... Probably because I've been a bit of a nostalgic mood lately.
As a kid growing up, I hadn't learned to tip very well. Dad, usually not a complete skinflint, is still very frugal and does not believe in tipping over 10-12%, no matter what. Usually Mom or I had to loiter at the table to "finish our drink" and drop a few more bucks down when his back was turned.
It took dating a waitress before I had the finer points of tipping pounded into my thick skull. You know, the little things, like don't penalize the waitstaff for kitchen errors, don't eat the meal if you can't afford to tip, and for pete's sake, they make $2.65 an hour! Lay the damn money down, ya tightwad!
So, I consider myself a pretty good tipper. If you don't forget about me, keep my iced tea glass full, and don't spill soup down my neck, you'll get 20% every time. Kiss my ass and tell me how pretty my eyes are, and I've been known to up that to 25-30%. Hell, flattery gets you everywhere.
I've never gone completely overboard, though. I've heard of people tipping $1000 on a Denny's pancake breakfast in Vegas, or leaving a set of car keys for a particularly lucky waitperson. It'd be fun to lay down that kind of tip, but I just don't have the wherewithal to do it.
The closest I've come was when I was a freshman in high school. The marching band's tuba section (aka the bass-clef studmuffins) were a pretty tight crew. Our Executive Tuba Commander that year was a laid-back junior named Butch, and he'd promised the section that if we ran our route perfectly at that weekend's game, he'd treat for pizza afterwards. I think he was hoping we'd screw up, but we pulled it off, and off we went to Pizza Hut.
Our waitress, an extremely cute blonde, wasn't too sure about dealing with a rowdy group of high school guys. She stepped up to the plate, though, and didn't show an ounce of intimidation. Aside from being loud, we were fairly well behaved for a bunch of teenagers hopped up on root beer and pepperoni pizza.
We came *this* close to talking her into a couple of pitchers of real beer, but the manager on duty just wouldn't play along. She did slip us 3 extra pizzas that would have gotten tossed out at the end of the night, as well as untold extra pitchers of soda, managing to stay bubbly and flirty into the wee hours of the morning.
We managed to weasel out her life history one trip from the kitchen at a time. Single mom, just moved in from out of state, working two jobs, barely making ends meet, etc.
They locked their doors to new customers at midnight, and finally told us we had to go around 1 a.m. (Yeah, I know, 14 year olds shouldn't be out that late, but the Pizza Hut was literally across the street from the high school, and was 1/2 mile from my house. Every so often, my parents could be amazingly cool...)
After tallying up the bill, the general consensus was that she'd been an outstanding waitress, and we should show our appreciation. So, on a $62 tab, we put in $20 each, or $180 total.
When we finally convinced her that "No, we don't want any change back, you can keep it all", she did what my 14 year old brain thought was the strangest thing... she burst into tears. Turns out that daycare, Pampers and formula cost more than a bunch of teenage boys could have possibly imagined.
It's a lesson that's stuck with me over the years. If you can afford to eat out regularly, odds are you're a lot more financially solvent than your waiter is, and that extra dollar you drop won't make a lick of difference to you. It might, however, mean the difference between making or not making a light bill payment for someone else.
Walk out on a tip for no good reason, or stiff the group on it on a combined check, and you're on my shit list forever! Just so we're clear on that...
So, Bon Appetit, and don't forget the tip! (Said the hooker to the leper... Sorry, had to beat Elisson
to the punchline...)