Author Jason Machen
The bill was over $200 and he tipped $5. He and his five other friends sat in the restaurant for over 2.5 hours. He was a regular and very demanding of servers but always tipped very poorly.
The server was one of my best! She had all the important qualities necessary to be excellent at the job. When the customer came in I gave her the table because I knew she could handle his over the top needs.
I watched that table like a hawk and even helped with service. My server did an excellent job making sure he had everything he wanted in a timely and professional manner.
Near the end the server came up to me and said that if he tipped poorly she was going to “freak out”. I understood and assured her I would handle it if he did.
This asshat tips $5 on $220.0! She loses it! She is in the kitchen, red faced and cursing like a sailor!
I. Have. Had. ENOUGH.
The conversation went like this
Me: Sir, may I speak with you a moment?
Asshat: Uh…sure, I guess.
Me: Would you mind stepping over here with me please?
I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his friends.
Asshat: yeah, I mind. I’m having a conversation with my friends. What’s the problem?
Now, I am absolutely going to embarrass him in front of his friends. As much as possible!
Tact. I have it in spades. I use it now, not for his benefit but to help his friends understand that this guy is an asshat.
Me: Okay sir, I’ll try to make this brief. As the manager I have to keep an eye on many things. One of those things is the quality of our service. One of the ways I can do this is by knowing the amount of tips my servers receive. I’ve noticed that over the last few months you have tipped well under twenty percent. In fact you tipped $5 on a $220 tab tonight.
I let this hang there for a moment. I watched his face redden. A split second before he could speak his extreme displeasure, I interrupted.
Me: I only bring this to your attention because I am concerned that my servers are not doing their job well. Low tips mean one of two things. Either our service is not up to par or…
I let the sentence trail off and slowly scan the faces of his friends. A mixture of incredulity and realization is readable there.
Asshat: This is outrageous..I…how dare you…
Me: Exactly sir. This is outrageous. Have my servers done such a bad job that you can only bring yourself to tip five percent?
Asshat: …how dare you confront me like this in front of my friends…I will never…
Me: I’m sorry sir, but you left me no choice. I did give you the opportunity to talk in private. You declined.
Asshat:.. come back to this place!
I scan the faces of his friends again. Now I mostly see understanding and acceptance. They get it and mostly approve.
Me: That’s fine sir, I’m not sure we want to serve someone who doesn’t appreciate the skill and hard work of our employees anyway. Sorry folks, for the interruption, I hope you understand.
And I walked away, Asshat still sputtering and trying to argue a case that was very obviously lost.
The very best part of the story happened the next day. Asshat’s wife came in and asked for me. When we spoke she asked if the server from the night before was available. Turns out she was. When the server arrived Asshat’s wife apologized for her husband’s behavior and bad tipping. She then hands the server a crisp $100 bill and turns to me with a second bill of the same denomination. She wants me to split it up with all the servers in the restaurant. She apologized again and tells us that her husband would absolutely be coming back and would never tip less than twenty percent again. “For the rest of his life” she says, as she turns to go “if he wants to stay married to me!”
I couldn’t have been happier. Sure enough, a week later he was back. He was more polite and tipped exactly twenty percent. I mean exactly.
When he finally made eye contact with me he smiled an awkward smile and gave me a slight nod. I mouthed the words “thank you” and nodded in return.