Humans are terrible. We say this not to make anyone feel bad — although, you’ve probably done some bad things, too — but because it’s an objective and well-supported fact. Need more proof? Just check the news. Wants even more evidence? Well then look no further than this tale of a customer and his wife proudly humiliating their server into “doing a good job” by threatening her livelihood.
Let’s start with the terrible basics: An anonymous couple (because of course they’re anonymous) saw a fun tip for getting good service online and decided to test it out. The “hack” entails putting all the tip money on the table at the beginning of the meal (in singles) and then taking away a dollar every time the server does something that is perceived as “wrong.” (This trick was also used in an episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun, but that dude was an alien so it’s not as big of a deal.)
That was reviled on Reddit not long ago, but of course two people — so lucky to have found each other! — decided to take it out into the real world, inform people that it works, and then suggest that everyone try it. Because no dinner out is satisfying unless you’ve forced the person serving you to jump like a trained monkey for five dollars because self-esteem is for the no-integrity schmucks who like to do “social experiments” with no regard for decency.
Here’s the account:
No, actually, the only thing we’re surprised by is that no manager stepped in to inform these charmers that what they were doing was harassment and to either stop it or leave. We’re also surprised that both these people could sit through an entire meal with money on the table and take so much joy in feeling in control of another person that they didn’t even realize how stupid/ridiculous they looked. Because, we shit you not, they 100 percent looked stupid and ridiculous as they gleefully added and subtracted dollar bills while their server probably rushed from one table to another because, uh, she likely had more than one table.
“Well, that’s none of our concern,” you can hear these people saying, “if she’s too busy for us, then it’s on the restaurant to hire more people.” Yep. Pushing up prices, etc, etc.
As you can guess, the internet wasn’t particularly thrilled with this “hack” getting out in the wild. Even the most frugal people on Reddit (those who are proud to call themselves “cheap bastards”) thought it was entirely too much. And then Darron Cardosa (AKA The Bitchy Waiter) stepped in and took this couple to task for finding joy in the degradation of others.
“So I took the wife out to dinner last night, and we have always talked about doing this.” When most people talk about the things they have always wanted to do, they are thinking exotic trips to foreign lands, buying a second home or going skydiving. Not this couple, though. They dream of toying with the financial well-being of waitress who is just hoping she will get a fucking 20% tip from her asshole customer.
“You put 5 singles out on the table at the beginning of dinner for the waiter/waitress to see. (Don’t say anything to them).” If I had a customer do that, I wouldn’t think twice about them not saying anything to me about why there was money on the table. And what if we don’t see it? Are you going to wave those five bills in our face and then place them back on the table just to make sure I’m paying attention to them? You’re an ass.
“if they mess up, you take a dollar away, and so on. At the end of dinner, however much is left, is their tip.” So that means you get to sit through your whole dinner with a clipboard and a calculator in order to keep tabs on every move your server makes? Yeah, that sounds like a really great dinner for your wife. And does every mistake merit one dollar? If I spill a soda I lose a dollar but if I spill one drop of water do I still lose a whole dollar? Because if that’s the case, I’d wanna know up front so I can make the most out of my mistakes. I mean, if I’m going to lose a dollar, I want to make sure it’s worth it.
And there are so many more things to consider here, from how much the actual meal was (are you really leaving five bucks on an $80 dinner and considering yourself fair?) to how completely subjective this system is. It’s not based on any metric other than “I didn’t like this thing you did here,” so unless these people also printed up a little card that explained all the reasons they’d add and remove money from the tip (at which point we’d hope most people would just refuse them service) they could choose not to tip — and feel good about it! — for any reason. Server didn’t smile? Take away a dollar. Server had to attend to a table of 10 and didn’t get your soda refill at the exact time you wanted it? Take away a dollar. Kitchen was backed up and your food was a little later than you’d liked and the server’s apology not worthy of an Oscar? Take away a dollar; two if they didn’t pretend to cry.
Seriously, though: What about this is actually fun? It just sounds like a really terrible way to displace aggression. And if other people begin following suit, then here’s hoping that servers either call them out on it or are able to be protected by their managers, who should absolutely be having serious conversations with patrons who don’t want to tip that badly. Is not tipping illegal? No. Does humiliating your server by threatening their bank account deserve an immediate push towards the door and a possible ban? Absolutely.
As Cardosa points out, you need to stop and reconsider your life if you’re even thinking about doing this. Your intent, when you go to a restaurant, shouldn’t be to see how badly you can treat another human being. It also shouldn’t be about exacting the best service from someone. It’s about going out, enjoying some food, and spending time with other people or (if you’re dining alone) maybe a good book. If the service isn’t spectacular? Say something. But this business? It needs to end now.