As anyone who has worked in the service industry knows, it’s not easy knowing where to draw the line between creating healthy boundaries with customers and hopefully being tipped after a hard night.
One 22-year-old waitress who chose healthy boundaries almost lost her tip at the end of her shift.
The evening was so troubling, the waitress eventually wrote into the “Am I the A**hole?” subReddit, wondering if she was in the wrong for how she handled the situation at a couple’s table.
The OP (Original Poster) “waitressfml00” asked the sub:
“AITA (Am I the A**hole) for refusing to return a tip AND telling a couple that I don’t have time to play mediator?”
The OP conceded her work comes as a real challenge at times.
“I’m a 22 year old, female waitress at Texas Roadhouse. This is one of my two jobs to put myself through college. Most days are fine but other days are a living h**l.”
The evening a couple came in complaining about drinks was definitely a difficult one.
“Yesterday I was assigned a table that had a husband, wife and what appeared to be a teenage daughter (maybe 17). Everything was going smooth at first and the wife ordered a margarita. The husband then tried ordering a beer.”
“The wife instantly lost her noodles and said ‘Uh, no. He will not have a beer. He will have a water.’
“She then turned to him and said something along the lines of him not needing to drink because he was driving.”
“He said no, the daughter could drive. It was childish.”
The couple’s problem soon involved the OP.
“Anyways, he keeps telling me he wants a beer. She keeps telling me no.”
“In this industry, situations like this are a lose/lose for waitresses. If I get him the beer, wife [won’t] tip. If I [don’t] get him the beer, he [won’t] tip. D**ned if I do, d**ned if I [don’t].”
“So while they were arguing AT me, I said, ‘Listen, I really [don’t] have time to play mediator here.'”
“They went silent. I went and got both of them their alcohol. Daughter gives me an apologetic look upon my return, presumably because her mother was acting bat s**t crazy upon seeing me bring a beer in tow.”
The already-tense evening worsened after the husband left the OP a tip for her services.
“Flash forward to after their meals. Husband has had 2 beers at this point. Wife has stopped drinking and glares at me every time I return. Wife and daughter go to the car while husband pays.”
“Husband drops me a $40 tip on a $68 tab. I told him I [couldn’t] accept it. He insisted. Eventually I pocketed it.”
“Wife comes in an hour or so later demanding that I give her the $40 her husband gave me, stating that I was a terrible host and went against her and I [don’t] deserve a tip.”
“She got my manager involved who said, ‘She is not obligated to give you her tip. You left the restaurant and the tip has already been processed. Have a nice night.'”
“She was fuming, screaming at me about how much of an AH I was for supplying her husband alcohol after she said no.”
“Other guests started chiming in saying that she was being ignorant and that I was doing my job, which is to provide guests with what they want and said that it [wasn’t] MY fault that she was a controlling wife. She storms out.”
Despite her manager’s and other customers’ reactions, the OP was unsure how to feel.
“Given the fact that I was put on the spot like that, I feel insanely guilty. AITA?”
Fellow Redditors wrote in anonymously, rating the OP’s actions on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some pointed out that the OP could have spoken a little more professionally.
“but i think it would ve been better if she was more professional by saying, ‘i will come back later to take your order’, but anyways.” – Local_Current
“OP’s NTA but the right answer would have been to smile and say ‘it sounds like you folks need ten more minutes to decide’ and just leave and let them fight it out first.” – MageVicky
“‘Y’all look [like] you need… maybe an hour? to figure out what to drink, I’ll swing back by then’ * cheesy smile *” – MrSelophane
“Well, an hour is how long a therapy appointment takes so that sounds about right.” – arrrrr_won
Others sided firmly with the OP and said she hadn’t been all that unprofessional.
“She wasn’t even really unprofessional. She firmly drew a boundary so that she could effectively do her job.”
“In fact, at a certain point, I’d argue it would be unprofessional not to clearly state the scope of your role as an attempt to remove yourself from the situation. They were being incredibly inappropriate.”
“Just because you’re being paid for your time doesn’t mean people can treat you however they’d like. I agree that attitude is important, and it’s on the professional to take the high road– but only to an extent. You’re not a punching bag.”
“Especially when, as this comment notes, servers generally aren’t even paid a livable wage. This poor girl probably puts up with a h**l of a lot at the Texas Roadhouse.” – caramelizedapple
“[Redditors on this sub do not] understand that this conflict was not just gonna suddenly disappear, and they would have continually tried to pull OP back into it anyway! There was no winning here, honestly, and a server is more than allowed to set boundaries at work. You especially don’t get to put a server through this s**t and then come back in demanding the tip back?!” – faenyxrising
“As a server, I would absolutely do the same thing she did. She was being as professional as she could in that situation, especially if the restaurant was busy and she had other tables to take care of. You can’t waste time waiting for an arguing couple.” – yaboinico1827
While a few Redditors conceded that the OP could have been more diplomatic, the issues at the table clearly were not her responsibility.
Mediating or deciding who to serve alcohol to are, well, above her pay grade in this case.
Some people need to remind themselves to either leave their problems at the door or stop trying to drag third parties into them.