To Do

To Do

86. Leave someone a $100 tip

My Story

Updated November 23, 2009

For a little while after I graduated from high school and then again for a little while after I graduated from college in the midst of the dotcom bust, I worked as a waitress. It was one of the most difficult, most frustrating, and hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Some days were just barely tolerable, and others were nothing short of miserable. If anyone else in the restaurant makes a mistake, it gets taken out on the waitress. I don’t deal well with being yelled at for other people’s mistakes.

I just know that if, on one of those days of pure misery, one of my customers had left me a $100 tip, I would have been so happy, I might have done cartwheels in between the tables. In many restaurants, waitresses do not even make minimum wage – they make $2.13/hour and are expected to make the majority of their money from tips. A paycheck for two full 40-hour workweeks is usually about $100 after taxes are taken out. How much you make in tips depends somewhat on how good of a waitress you are, but depends a lot more on which shifts you’re scheduled to work and what kind of restaurant you work in. My first waitressing job, at  a cheap and greasy diner alongside a highway, I was lucky to make $20 in tips in a 6 or 8 hour shift. A $100 tip would have made a big difference in my income for the month.

Even though nobody ever did it for me (I think the largest tip I ever got was a $20 tip after a couple’s baby made a tremendous mess with saltine crackers) I’d still like to raise someone’s spirits and maybe bring them a little relief. It’s stressful to be a waitress and be at work thinking you need to make $50 more to be able to pay your rent the next day.

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