I’m a server at a local restaurant. I’ve been a career professional in the service industry here in Santa Barbara for 25 years now, and I work at a popular eatery downtown.

Last night I waited on three people who wanted separate checks. They wanted their food on one separate check each and the alcohol bill on a fourth. First off, separate checks are a pain in the butt for servers. Why can’t people realize this? We loathe it, trust me, but not as much as what happened next.

When I came out with four separate checks for these three people, they paid and they did not tip on the alcohol portion! What on Earth makes anyone think that this is acceptable behavior? It was directly stiffing me. If the entire bill were on one check that means they would just not have been tipping on $30 of that check. This is not okay regardless of how you divide the checks.

I am taxed on my sales, and so, in essence, when people do not tip, I end up paying to wait on them! I don’t think most people realize this or think of it in that way, but that is the way it is.

I know there will be edgy reactions regarding this because there always seems to be when tipping is discussed, but in this country, until we graduate to a better system, tipping is customary and expected. If you received decent service, a 15-20 percent tip is what you should leave on top of your bill, not 10 percent, not 13 percent …

Come on, people! Just quit being cheap! If you cannot afford to tip correctly, you should stay home or eat at a fast-food type of place where tipping is not required, and you can be as cheap as you want.

I work hard at what I do; I take pride in it. I have a college degree, and I am very personable. I care about my customers, and I want them to have an exceptional dining experience, and that is how I approach all of my customers.

When I get stiffed or under-tipped, I get upset. I’m sick of it, and it seems to be happening a lot lately.

I know a lot of people are stuggling financially, but don’t take it out on your server. We are working hard, too, and serving you. Pay it forward, be a good person, and abide by the customs in place for eating out. Thanks.


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