Hey, cheapskates—the waitress you shortchange today might shame you on the Internet tomorrow, said Sierra Tishgart in NYMag.com. Consider the case of Pastor Alois Bell of St. Louis, who recently dined at an Applebee’s in a party of 10 and found that the restaurant had added an automatic 18 percent tip. Instead of ponying up the $6.29 gratuity on her itemized check, Bell wrote, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” She then gave the server a tip of zero. The server showed the receipt to fellow waitress Chelsea Welch, who posted a photo of it to online community board Reddit. The receipt went viral, Bell’s signature was identified, and thousands of netizens targeted the minister for abuse. Even though Bell admitted her note was a “lapse in my judgment,” she demanded that Applebee’s fire Welch—and last week, it did. If you can’t call out cheap, self-righteous customers on the Internet, “then where can you?”
Actually, waiters should take comfort from this tale, said Conor Friedersdorf in TheAtlantic.com. Until now, customers have been free to abuse waitstaff with no fear of exposure or embarrassment. But now social media are giving the server a means to fight back. Look how easily Welch unleashed “10,000 digital tongue-lashings” on Bell. Perhaps this episode will teach jerks to think twice before “scrawling entitled screeds” on their receipts. I hope so, said John McQuaid in Forbes.com. But the kind of verbal abuse waiters typically receive from obnoxious customers can’t easily be posted on Reddit, and Applebee’s knee-jerk reaction proves “the penalties for online revenge are high.”
As the waitress who was fired, said Chelsea Welch in The Guardian (U.K.),may I say a word “on behalf of waitstaff everywhere”? When you eat at a restaurant, “tipping is not optional.” Restaurants like Applebee’s typically pay the hardworking waitstaff $3.50 an hour, and the gratuity is considered part of our salary. Without the tip, I can’t pay my bills, and I’ll never save enough to go to college. But even though tips are how waiters get paid in America, many customers think it’s fine to stiff them to save a buck or two. So next time you go out to eat, remember this about the people who serve you. “We work hard. We care. We deserve to be paid for that.”
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