A waiter in Los Angeles was both surprised and pleased to get a tip from a group of customers over a week after they’d dined at his restaurant.
The waiter had patiently served a group of four 13-year-old girls, who were dining on their own for the first time, but was frustrated when they finished their meal and left without leaving him much of a tip, despite thanking him for the good service.
As he found out later, they didn’t mean to stiff him — they just didn’t know any better. But when they realized their error, they went out of their way to make it right.
Stiffed: A group of teens at an LA restaurant tipped just $3.28 for their meal, considerably lower than the customary 16% to 20% in the US
‘[There’s] nothing more frustrating than when I get little to nothing for a tip and the customer is smiling and thanking me profusely as they exit,’ the man, who goes by Seminole, wrote on Imgur.
Many people who work in the food service industry are also quick to complain about teenage diners, who are at times more likely to be stingy when it comes to tipping.
(In fact, Wayne Hills Diner in New Jersey diner made headlines in November when it added a ‘teen tax’ for this very reason, automatically including an 18 per cent gratuity for teenagers dining without parents.)
Yet when this happened to Seminole with a group of four 13-year-olds in early October, there was a happy ending.
A week and a half later, the teenage diners returned and left the waiter an envelope with cash and a note written in blue marker.
‘About a week and a half ago, on October 7, my 3 friends and I came to eat at this restaurant as our own homecoming celebration,’ the letter began. ‘It was an exciting experience for us to be here alone, and it was all new to us.
‘And you were the best waiter we could ask for. You were kind, helpful, accommodating, didn’t treat us like babies, and were even able to fir the food to all my allergies! So I wanted to say thank you for making our “grown up” experience so amazing and fun.’
Sweet! They returned later with this note explaining that they hadn’t understood how tipping worked and felt bad. They also included cash with the letter
Despite their good time, though, the group didn’t leave much of a tip.
‘I would also like to say sorry on behalf of my group,’ the letter continued. Since we were new to all of this, our 13-year-old minds didn’t exactly know how to deal with the bill. You were super helpful in dividing the check up and taking our not-so-preferable cash.
‘The bill was reasonable, but we had completely forgotten (and frankly didn’t know) what a tip even was, let alone how much to give. So we emptied our pocked and all our money added up to $3.28.’
The bill appears to have been for close to $100, which would make this tip less than four per cent.
‘Not aware of how small this really was, we left, clueless of what we had left you for all your hard work,’ explained the letter.
‘Later, we realized our mistake and felt HORRIBLE. We knew we had to make it right. SO in this envelope you will find the correct 18% tip + extra for simply being amazing. We appreciate your help and patience, and thank you for making our night fun. Thank you!’
According to the waiter, there was an additional $18 and change in the envelope, more than covering the customary tip.
Cheap: Their waiter said he really appreciated the gesture. In the US, the federal minimum wage for employees who stand to make tips is just $2.13 per hour
‘I’ve been serving a long time, and nothing like this has ever happened to me, or anyone,’ the waiter explained. ‘I don’t know how you learned or educated yourself on tipping, but I really appreciate the effort and kindness. I hope your Homecoming was fantastic!’
Though the federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25, the rules that govern employees who make tips are different.
For any employee who stands to make at least $30 per month in tips, the minimum cash wage from employers is $2.13 per hour. Thus, it’s customary to tip waitstaff 16 to 20 per cent to make up for the rest of their wages.
Other Imgur users were impressed by the story, applauding the teens for doing the right thing and their parents for raising them well.
‘Someone’s parents are doing a good job,’ wrote one.
‘I bet it made your whole week. What a wonderful thing for those young ones to do. Even better is how wonderful your customers feel about you,’ wrote another.
A third person, who also appears to work in customer service, added: ’28 years in the industry … that’s just lovely. I’ve had a few folk pop back with forgotten tips, but nothing so sweet as this!’