Eating out is not cheap.
You need to factor in the cost of the food, plus the cost of the tax and drinks as well as the cost of a gratuity for the waitstaff. In the United States, waiters and waitresses do not make a minimum wage and rely on these gratuities to survive.
So when Redditor urfavhotmess16 found out that her table hadn’t left her any sort of tip that was going to help her pay her bills, she reacted in kind. The table did not react kindly in turn.
Wondering if she really had overstepped her boundaries, she went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for feedback from objective strangers:
“AITA for talking back to a customer and returning their tip?”
Our original poster, or OP, explained the incident as it took place on the job:
“I 23 F[emale] work in a small town bar and grill. It’s a fairly large establishment for a town of a thousand and can seat close to 200 people.”
“We only had 3 servers for a Saturday night, meaning one server per section. The section I was responsible for seats 52 people (8 tables total).”
“While also handling the bar (seats 20) and to go orders (typically 1 order every 5-10 minutes) outside of our assigned 40+ customers each to care for, as you can expect things fell behind.”
“I had a group of younger friends come in together that asked if they could sit at a different table. I kindly explained to them I’d be happy to move them, however with people still waiting to order food and needing drinks it would be about 20 minutes before I could bus and sanitize the table to swap them.”
The customers immediately showed signs of discontentment.
“Five minutes later they switched to the dirty table anyways. I was unaware until another table of mine that had stayed behind to chat, handed me $20 saying ‘I overheard your conversation with the other customers, they have moved and I don’t think they’ll tip.’”
“I thanked the man and quickly resumed my tasks. After catching up roughly 15 minutes later I went to their table, cleaned off everything and took their order. One of the ladies looked at me and screamed asking ‘Wtf is wrong with me.'”
“I kindly reiterated that I had explained before due to my current task list for those already waiting and only having a total of 3 servers in the restaurant, I was in fact serious when I said it would take me close to 20 minutes to clear out a new table for them and by them moving I now gained another table in my section that further set me back.”
And then she decided to add injury to insult:
“The woman then proceeded to say ‘if you can’t handle your “job” (with the air quotes) maybe get a new one.’ When she paid her tab she rounded up to the next dollar leaving me with a $0.48 tip on a $140+ bill.”
“I returned her change, looked her in the eyes and said, ‘Clearly you need this more than I do, I hope life gets better for you.’”
“She screamed at me again calling me a b*tch, and yelling to fellow patrons at the bar seats stating she will never return because of me. After the adrenaline wore down I began to feel as if my emotions got the best of me and I probably could’ve handled the situation better.”
“She never called the restaurant to complain or anything, but I did tell the manager and my boss (who is also the owner) about the situation. They just laughed and I have faced no repercussions. Outsider POV and advice is very appreciated. AITA?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors both thought she was in the right and applauded her style.
“NTA. You handled it perfectly. She wanted to humiliate you and make you feel small. Instead you flipped the script and made her look petty while being very polite and calm.”
“That’s why she was so angry. I love that line: ‘Clearly you need this more than I do, I hope life gets better for you.’ You are awesome!”-overseas-mango
“You did so great! You stood up yourself, which is necessary sometimes in service jobs, and told your manager immediately. Sounds like a good boss for these times :)”
“When you get those intrusive thoughts, you could try to think about the customers who gave you the heads up and the $20. They saw you and cared about you.”
“Let those people stay in your memory and know that next time, it’s okay for you to set professional boundaries with the bad apples.”
“Keep doing great work because in a small town, there will be people who recognize and reward you for it.”
“You probably shouldn’t confront each bad customer but you can for sure replay this memory of your triumphant set down in your mind! NTA”-Unfair_Force168
“NTA. I’m tired of the ‘the customer is always right’ bull sh*t culture. People shouldn’t be able to treat servers/service industry like sh*t with the expectation the server will just take it.”
“Customers bad behavior in general has gotten out of control IMO.”-MistakeVisual3733
“Once after I sassed one arsehole and refused to sell him anything he actually shouted that and before I could answer him like 1/3 of pub’s customers shouted back ‘Good!’ with some honourable mention of ‘We don’t want you here anyway.'”
“Bless. I love that place. And NTA of course.”
“Every time I hear those horror stories from US where servers cannot talk back or throw out annoying customers my blood boils. Great job OP for handling it with class and sass.”-Siostra313
People had no sympathy for a customer with an attitude:
“NTA – They should have left a tip.”
“If I’ve ever eaten with someone and I felt they didn’t leave a large enough tip (15-20%) I will always leave additional cash on the table, especially if the other party is paying.”-Ok-Acanthaceae5744
“NTA, actually I think you handled it beautifully by gently embarrassing that woman in front of her friends, which is the best thing you could have possibly done.”
“She’s angry because she wanted to see you get angry or upset, and you didn’t give her that satisfaction. If I were your boss I’d be proud!”-Glucose_worm
“NTA Yes, we work in a public service but that doesn’t give anyone the right to treat you like sh*t!”
“Sometimes, there’s customers who need to know the world doesnt revolve around them and while you’ll happily serve them with respect, it works both ways.”
“Im glad your employer was on your side with it, Im also lucky enough to work for a company who wont tolerate disgusting behaviour towards their staff.”-CrunchyCookies51
“Responses to ‘I will never come back here because of you’ that would have been appropriate but still wouldn’t make you the ah in my book:”
“-Aww, thank you!”
“-That is not the threat you think it is”
“-That is the best thing you’ve said all night”
“-Glad to see we’ve come to an agreement!”-lexahead
And still others highlighted the challenges of eating out in a post-pandemic world.
“Sh*t is rough these days, and if you want to go eat out – you have to understand that most places are understaffed in every section of the restaurant.”
“So you have to go with patience and time on your side.”-Kill_The_Dinosaurs
“NTA. But your restaurant needs to start making a wait list and not over-seat when there isn’t enough staff.”
“You can try to explain to people that it’s really busy and there isn’t enough staff but they’ll pretty much always have a fit once they’re seated and aren’t getting prompt service.”
“Of course, then you get the idiots who insist that there are empty seats so they want to sit now, but f**k that. If kitchen and front of house staff can’t keep up then it turns into a sh*tshow.”-Twallot
“You’re NTA, you were doing your job, you told her what the situation was, she decided to be abusive anyway.”
“She didn’t have to stick around. If the restaurant is understaffed, that’s not something you can fix.”-Charlie_Parkers_Mood
“NTA….As a former long term server and current restaurant GM I applaud you.”
“The restaurant world has always been brutal with the public showing their butts. The last 2 years have taken it to a level I never imagined possible.”
“I would have kicked them out before allowing them to order. Once someone cusses me or my staff I tell them they can speak to me like an adult or starve.”
“A shocking amount of people feel entitled to act anyway they choose and that is a no for me.”-jenfish06
The restaurant world has always been a high-demand, high-stress job, and the consensus among diners is: TIP YOUR SERVERS.
If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat.