Waiting tables is one of the most underrated jobs. Not only is it grueling to keep customers happy but it’s also a thankless job. Many depend on the kindness of strangers to make ends meet. Even if you’ve gone above and beyond to keep them happy, some things are just out of your hands. The chefs don’t have to listen to the complaints when they’ve messed up, but the server does.
It’s no wonder so many waiters chase customers down the street if they haven’t left a fair tip. This server nearly let his anger consume him when he was left a pitiful $3. But there was much more to this story.
Many know the trials and tribulations of working in hospitality. Seminole, a Reddit user, was far too accustomed to the business. Everyone can sympathize with those who depend on the split shifts, long hours, minimum wage, and ill-mannered customers. His work was difficult, but he made sure to stay positive. And although he was struggling to pay his rent, he still tried his best to make those lucky enough to sit at his tables laugh.
The day was going quick—he had yet to have a confrontational customer. Then, as he was bussing a dirty table, he noticed a scribbled, crinkled note. He sighed. If they had an issue, why didn’t they say it to his face? But once he had a look, he ran to retrieve his phone.
Seminole has been settled in Miami, Florida, for the last few years. Here, he met his girlfriend. Things were moving quickly and before he knew it, they were adopting a puppy together. Seminole was entranced by the lonely, quiet pup at the back of the kennel.
When Seminole approached the cage, the canine came to him and began to lick the wire. He took this as a sign. Before they knew it, they were home, taking selfies and sharing the newest member of their family online. But a few days later, the cops were knocking down their front door. They told him he would have to return his new companion to the pound or face the consequences. He was confused. What need was there for threats?
Some online user had blown the whistle. Unbeknownst to Seminole, pit bulls were banned in Miami. The officers explained that purebred pit bulls and any sort of mix were considered “dangerous” to the public. And to his horror, owning one was a crime.
The police officers gave Seminole two choices—pay a fine of $500 and give up his canine or face going to jail. Unfortunately, Seminole had to say “goodbye” to his hard-earned money and his friend. And although he was suffering from heartbreak, he had to put on a smile and get back to work. But he was fragile and one group of customers nearly broke him.
Seminole didn’t sleep that night. He tossed and turned, haunted by the guilt of giving up his beloved pet. He was exhausted when he arrived to work the next day. But he went about his daily duties, putting on a brave face as customers complained about the food or questioned the bill. The bags under his eyes were hard not to notice.
As he prepared to close for the night, a large group of office workers sat down and ordered some drinks. Most of the crew had left by closing time but Seminole stayed to serve the rowdy bunch. Eventually, the last round was ordered and he gave them the bill. The minimum tip was suggested on the receipt. Minimum didn’t add up to the amount of work but it was better than nothing. “Tomorrow will be better,” he told himself. But luck wasn’t on his side.
The next day dragged. The terrible weather made possible customers stay in instead of eating out. As the evening approached, things began to pick up. A group of four 13-year-olds sat in Seminole’s section. They smiled and joked amongst themselves, celebrating their homecoming. He exhaled.
Most teenagers were rude and obnoxious. He didn’t have the patience for that today. Thankfully, these teens were polite and respectful. Their cheerful demeanor began to rub off on him. As always, he did his best to make their dining experience a pleasant one. Then, they shared something that made him laugh.
To Seminole’s surprise, it was the group’s first time eating alone. Sure, they had gone out for dinner before but never without a chaperone. He laughed as they debated over the current cutlery to use. “Why are there so many forks?” He heard them whisper as he returned with their sodas. “You work from the inside out,” he shared as he took his notepad from his pocket. “Are you ready to order?” He never expected them to have so many questions.
“I actually have some allergies,” one of the girls explained. Seminole came to her side and went through the menu with her. “So, the number represents the food present in each dish,” he explained as he pointed at the end of the page.
After giving some personal recommendations, Seminole managed to convince them to try his favorite suitable dishes. They were delighted with his genuine assistance. Once they finished their dishes, he placed the bill on their table, accompanied with some mints. They placed their notes on the receipt and left with smiles on their faces. When he returned to clear the table, he was shocked.
To Seminole’s disgust, the teenagers only left a tip of $3.28 but their total bill was more than $100. He had gone above and beyond, checking with the chefs to ensure the dishes were safe for them to consume. They seemed to have enjoyed their meals and even thanked him before they left. How could they be so rude?
He was so disappointed. Against his best attempts, it managed to influence the rest of his day. Colleagues noticed his foul mood. By the end, he managed to shake the experience, until later that week.
Seminole had moved on from the unfair tip. But he struggled to let go of the memories of his friend. He arrived at work and expected it to be like any other but there was something left behind the desk for him. The 2-page letter was addressed to him.
The cursive script was handwritten in blue ink and had $18 attached. Change shook in the envelope. He scanned through the type. Who left this? Once he began to read, he realized who it was.
“Dear Mr. Waiter,” they opened the later. It didn’t take long for him to identify the sender. “You were the best waiter we could ask for. You were kind, helpful, accommodating, didn’t treat us like babies,” they shared.
He was sure it was the group of teenagers he had served earlier on in the week. Seminole’s heart began to warm. What a sweet and kind gesture! He continued to read the compliments.
“So I wanted to say thank you for making our ‘grown-up’ experience so amazing and fun. I would also like to say sorry on behalf of my group,” they continued.
They explained that they were unaware of the tipping etiquette due to it being their first time out alone. They never realized they had to leave a certain percentage of the bill for the server and that the server depended on tips to make a decent wage. “So, we emptied our pockets and all our money added up to $3.28.” Then, Seminole began to make sense of the situation.
Everything suddenly made sense. The teens had not left the $3.28 tip due to their lack of appreciation. Instead, they got a bit carried away with themselves on their first solo dinner and forgot to keep track of their bill. When they finally got the bill, they panicked at the price and then began rooting through their bags and pockets for anything they could find.
Every adult has made mistakes during the youth. Few go out of their way to make things right. Seminole was touched by their gesture.
“I’ve been serving a long time, and nothing like this has ever happened to me, or anyone. I don’t know how you learned or educated yourself on tipping, but I really appreciate the effort and kindness,” Seminole shared on his Social Media.
He also uploaded a picture of the teenager’s letter, sharing their admirable efforts. Friends, family, and strangers voiced their opinions. Their reaction was more than positive.
“Someone’s parents are doing a good job,” a stranger commented on Seminole’s post. “That’s a beautifully composed letter for a 13-year-old,” wrote another. Each comment had one thing in commen—the actions of those young adult’s were admirable.
They applauded their efforts to make things right, agreeing that seeing such moral fiber in teenagers wasn’t common. But there is an obvious way to stop situations like this occurring.
Most people working as servers in the hospitality industry earn less than minimum wage. They rely completely on tips to make up a decent wage. Those fortunate enough to be employed with 5-star restaurants make a steady wage with or without tips, but the majority don’t have that luxury.
Let’s hope campaigns for fair pay continue. Hopefully, an end will come to tipping so serves can earn a decent, steady wage!