Waiters at restaurants know the customer is always right. Servers will go all-out to please, helping to make the experience relaxing and pleasurable for diners.
But in exchange for courteous and helpful service, waiters expect a fair tip in return. It’s an important part of the job: restaurant employees are often paid a low hourly wage on the assumption that they’ll make more in tips from customers.
So it can be upsetting when you think you did a good job—but realize the customer apparently didn’t agree.
That’s what one waiter, known only by his Imgur user name Seminole, learned recently when he waited on a group of teens, who stiffed him on the tip during their October 7 visit.
“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,” Seminole wrote.
It was especially frustrating since the waiter paid special attention to the 13-year-old diners, who were by themselves, and clearly a bit in over their heads. Seminole helped the kids out, catering to one of their allergy restrictions and helping them divide the check, all without being condescending.
The teens seemed satisfied with their experience—which is why Seminole was so disheartened to see what they left:
$3.28, a very small tip considering the total.
The waiter couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
But then, a week and a half later, he received a letter.
It was dropped off anonymously at his restaurant’s front desk. Seminole opened it—and realized the letter was from the 13-year-olds.
They were writing to apologize—they had never eaten at a restaurant alone without adult supervision, but decided to do so as a “homecoming celebration.”
“It was an exciting experience for us to be here alone, and it was all new to us,” the letter read. “You were the best waiter we could ask for. You were kind, helpful, accommodating, didn’t treat us like babies.”
“So I wanted to say thank you for making our ‘grown up’ experience so amazing and fun.”
However, the teens found themselves unprepared for the dining customs.
“Since we were new to all this, our 13 year old minds didn’t exactly know how to deal with the bill,” they wrote.
And they explained that, at the time, they were unfamiliar with the concept of tipping—that $3.28 was all they had left, so they left it, not knowing how meager a sum it really was.
“We left, clueless of what we had left you for all your hard work,” they wrote. “Later, we realized our mistake and felt HORRIBLE.”
“We knew we had to make it right.”
So the “4 teenagers from that night” included something else with the letter:
$18 and change—the customary 18% tip.
Seminole was stunned—not only did he finally have a proper tip, he was touched that the teens would be considerate enough to make things right nearly two weeks after the fact.
“I’ve been serving a long time, and nothing like this has ever happened to me, or anyone,” he wrote, posting photos of the letter on Imgur.
He’s also glad to hear the first-time diners are getting the hang of restaurant protocol. Hopefully the teens continue to have fun going out to eat on their own, without needing to stress about the bill.
“I don’t know how you learned or educated yourself on tipping, but I really appreciate the effort and kindness,” the waiter wrote.
“I hope your Homecoming was fantastic!”