At one point I started home schooling my son, Reese. On some mornings, for breakfast, he would ask to go to Debra’s Kitchen. He would order breakfast and then do some of his schoolwork while I sat and talked with Becky, the waitress.
Over the years we had grown quite fond of Becky Zurcher, now Becky Bruno. She is an old country girl who was never in a hurry to do anything. She just took her time about everything and if you are a local, you knew that about her. You knew not to expect a hustling, bustling waitress. Apparently, it was a trait we all favored in her because she was never short of customers.
All around town we had our favorite waitresses. We had Becky at Debra’s, Andrea at The Dogwood Café, or Robin at The River Room. We tried to tip them well, although, I never believed it was enough. We were their regulars and most knew what we wanted when we came in the door.
I remember working graveyard one night and going to The Huddle House around midnight to pick up a salad. The waitress there rang up a gentleman and he was angry because there was a 12% service fee added for dining after 11 PM. The waitress tried to explain to him that she had no control over it. The computer was set up to do that automatically. Her manager/supervisor and the cook, her co-work, sat there and listened, smirking.
The customer turned and handed the cook $5 and said, “This was for her, but since she’s trying to shit me, I’ll give it to you.”
The cook and the manager laughed instead of backing up her explanation.
The man left the restaurant and the cook turned to the manager and said, “What do I do with this? I can’t accept tips.”
Instead of handing it the waitress, who looked like she was going to cry, the manager jumped off her stool and chased the man down in the parking lot to give it back to him.
Upon witnessing all of this, I handed the girl a $10 tip and said, “Not everyone is an asshole!”
I really felt they did that to her because she was white. I know that sounds racist but it’s how I felt in my heart. When I pointed this out to the manager and confronted her, she didn’t deny it.
She just smiled and said, “The cooks can’t take tips.”
“No, but the waitress could and that man would have never known you gave it to her!” I was so angry. I never went back to The Huddle House again.
Wait staff work hard at servicing their customers. They don’t always get things right, but they make a greater effort at pleasing you than your beautician does. The reason being is, they do not get regular paychecks as other professionals do. They literally work hard for the money.
At Christmas, my son always chose Becky to be the one who got the big Christmas tip. We usually gave her $20-30 in a Christmas card and did so for about three years in a row until she finally left Debra’s Kitchen.
Debra’s is a local hangout. Several, if not all, of the customers were all local townspeople. To find a tourist eating there was practically unheard of, so pretty much, we all knew each other and often met for breakfast. The man who owns one of the seafood companies in town ate there religiously every morning. An electrical company treating their staff for breakfast also ate there every morning. Around 9-10 AM, a building company often came in and ate. Like I said, locals.
Unwittingly, in a packed room, I opened the topic of conversation by asking, “Do you make good tips, Becky?”
“Sometimes. You always tip better than anyone else though,” she answered.
I explained to her, “My father, being a chef in some of the finest restaurants in Toledo, always said, ‘Always over tip your breakfast waitress. She makes less money than anyone else.’ Keeping that in mind, I try leave good tips when I can.”
“Some people don’t always tip though,” she said filling the cup of the man who owns the seafood company. “I don’t mind though. I just enjoy doing what I do.”
“Becky, I can’t believe people are such tightwads they don’t leave you a tip? You’re one of the good waitresses too!”
Later in the week, when Reese and I were the only two in the restaurant, as no one else had arrived yet, Becky confided in me, “That day you said something about tips, everyone in here tipped me that morning. The guy who owns the seafood company tipped me a dollar, which is more than he has ever tipped me in the past.”
Several months later, my son and I came in for lunch. Occasionally, Reese preferred a turkey sandwich from there instead of going into town. Becky called me over to the breakfast counter as we came in the door. “Can you do me a favor, please?” she asked as I approached.
“Sure. What is it?”
“Every day around noon, the firemen from next door come in here. They flirt outrageously with me and I often flirt back hoping they’ll leave me a tip. They come in, eat, leave a mess, and then leave no tip, not even the change. I feel like I’m cleaning up after my husband and his friends after a poker party or something.”
“Okay,” I said laughing. “What do you want me to do, smack them? Cuss them out? Hit them over the head with a coffee pot?”
Becky laughs too and answers, “No! I want you to start talking about tips again and see if they get the hint.”
My son and I sat there waiting for the firemen to show. Right on cue as Becky had said, they came in at noon. There were six of them so they took one of the bigger tables next to us. Also, as Becky had said, they flirted with her so outrageously that at one point, I thought one of them was going to smack Becky on her backside.
After taking their order, I said to her “So, have you been getting any better tips lately?”
Knowing what I was up to, Becky smiled and said, “Some days are better than others.”
“Well, anyone who expects you to give them good service and then walks out of here without leaving you a tip is an asshole!” Becky just laughs. She cannot say anything but I can so I go on. “I can’t stand tightwad people who expect the best and then refuse to offer anything in return.”
I called Becky later at the restaurant to ask what happened after I left. “They left me $1.”
“Each?” I asked, impressed I made a good impact, as that would have been $6 in her pocket.
It still gets to me. There are some waitresses that are just not worth it. They are lazy and don’t care about their customers. Those, I leave little tip money for. But, the ones like Becky, Andrea and Robin, I try to treat them good because they do care what they do. They make an honest effort at pleasing people. If you think it’s easy working with the public, come and take me on as your customer. However, the moral of the story is, TIP YOUR WAIT STAFF, they need to buy gas to get to work and wait on you bums!