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Set That Red Flag On Fire

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: tamiraisredditing | November 21, 2021

We had a guy come in last night with his date. Throughout the evening, he was the picture of courtesy and good manners. He complimented me, thanked me every time I came to refresh waters or check on the table, made a point to be forgiving of a kitchen mistake, and was super extra nice. He was the dream customer, really.

I appreciated it but didn’t delude myself that I was the source and figured he was just in a good mood because the date was going well. They were chatting, laughing, having a great time, so I assumed I was an indirect beneficiary.

He was certainly in some kind of celebratory mood because he was sparing no expense. He asked for our highest quality wine, she got our most expensive entree, he ordered one of every appetizer for her to sample when she made a remark that she was having trouble deciding — it was a real feast.

The evening started wrapping up and I got their check.

Me: “Together or separate checks?”

The woman started to say, “Separate,” but he made a big deal of saying:

Man: “Oh, are you kidding? Together, definitely together. You never have to pay when you’re with me, babe.”

And so on and so forth. Then, he slid me a credit card. I got everything sorted and brought out the receipt. He filled it out and it came to $289.00 total. He didn’t even blink and made a big show of leaving a HUNDRED-DOLLAR TIP. He thanked me for my service and emphasized what a lovely night they’d had.

Of course, a tip that size is exceptional, so I thanked him profusely.

Man: “There’s no need to thank me! Waitstaff are so underappreciated. Just think of this as a stand-in for all the ingrates who don’t treat you right. Don’t plan to tip, don’t plan to eat out, you know?”

He was looking at the mesmerized girl the whole time and not giving me a glance. I couldn’t care less where he was looking; I was looking at the upcoming hundred bucks. I thanked him again and said I hoped to see them back soon, and that was that.

He helped her into her coat and off they went. Great night, I was riding high.

About ninety seconds later, he was back in the door, without her, going, “I think left my—” Then, when the door shut, he looked to make sure his date was out of earshot, and he turned to address me without the slightest shade of shame or embarrassment.

Man: “Mark the tip down to twenty bucks, hun. I was just playing it up for my date. You understand.”

And he turned to go.

Uh… I understood, but not how he hoped I would. But I couldn’t make a scene in the middle of work — that’s not my place — so I just repeated, in order to give his conscience a chance to sink in:

Me: “Okay, sir. You’d like to amend your tip from one hundred dollars to twenty dollars. Is that correct?”

And even though I didn’t show a hint of displeasure in my voice he shot back, extremely hostile:

Man: “Yes, and if I see a cent over the twenty on there, I’m going to dispute the whole meal with my credit vendor, so don’t try to pull anything.”

The most frustrating part of this for me was not even going from an over 30% tip to under 10%, but rather that this poor girl was being strung along with no idea of who the guy was behind her back. It was extremely manipulative of him, which is a major red flag.

I’ve had my fair share of toxic relationships in the past and really wish someone had pulled the blinders off my eyes, so I desperately wanted to do something to alert this girl to the trick the guy had pulled, hoping it would be a catalyst to her questioning his other actions. But, again, I was at work and that just wasn’t my place. So, I altered the bill and that was that.

Then, just in time, something occurred to me, and I darted outside, hoping to catch them in the parking lot. I got lucky. They’d parked on the street, instead, and he was still dealing with the parking meter. I flagged him down and rushed across the street, nearly stumbling into traffic in my haste for a delicious moment.

His date was already in the car but rolled down her window, since no one expects the waitress to follow you out to your car waving her arms like a crazy person.

I made it across and said, more than loudly enough for her to hear:

Me: “Sir, we amended your tip from $100 down to $20 as you requested, but you’ll actually need to fill out a different receipt reflecting your new total for our records. Your old receipt still has your original tip of $100 written on it, but since you just came in and asked us to charge you $20, instead, we can’t have a discrepancy in our records. I hope you understand. This is just a bookkeeping regulation that goes way above me. It has nothing to do with your retroactively downgrading your tip from $20 to $100; we’re just glad you enjoyed your evening.”

His jaw was on the floor. He tried to pretend as though he didn’t know what I was talking about, trying to give me some line about:

Man: “I think you’re after someone else; I only came back because I forgot my keys.”

But I would not let it rest.

The more he played dumb the more I repeated versions of, “You wanted to change your tip from $100 down to $20, so you came back in,” and on and on.

So we went back and forth for a few more seconds until, finally, he said:

Man: “Okay, whatever. Uh, sorry for the miscommunication. If you need me to fill out a new receipt, I can.”

Me: *Totally even-keeled* “You only need to fill out a new receipt if you want to change your tip from $100 down to $20.”

And I’m guessing he didn’t have the money in his account because… he did it. He filled out the new receipt. His girlfriend was visibly shocked, and the man was staring daggers through me; I could feel the rage emanating off him.

It was vicariously quite satisfying in place of the other toxic men I never did get that confrontation with. And all the bad tippers — ironically, the exact kind he had made a righteous speech decrying just a few minutes beforehand.

And then off they drove, I’m sure never to patronize our restaurant again, but hopefully, never to go out together again, either, which would make it totally worth it.