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It’s Rude To Leave A $1 Tip. . . But This Is Worse

April 17, 2015

At first we thought she was part of the wait-staff. 

Monroe was a regular customer of the Brick Tap House in Louisville, KY, eating here several times per week. There were five of us here tonight. Monroe and Reggie were Louisville locals. The rest of us were from Salt Lake City, UT. A couple of hours earlier as we waited at the baggage claim, Garrett asked me where we should go to dinner.

Definitely the Brick Tap House.

But, I think Reggie wants to take us there later this week.

Trust me, it won’t matter.  

We were five guys who worked together. Some of us had worked together for years. Some just a few months. We talked about what guys talk about when they work at a job that shares the same stresses but not always the same location. Two were single. I was the old guy, married 27 years with 13 kids. Mark had been married less time and had two kids. Garrett was recently married. 

Gathered around the table, we talked about the food. We decided that despite the reputation for the “drunken chops,” we were all going for the Kobe burger. The chef came out to talk to Monroe.

We talked about sports, although Monroe didn’t knew nothing about any sport. We talked about coworkers; those we liked, those we didn’t. We talked about travel, each picking their least favorite airport. Minneapolis got some votes. I tended to agree with the person who picked Detroit. Any terminal that requires a train to take you to other locations in the same building? I’m not a fan.  

It was at this point that she approached our table, and it got weird. 

What are boys doing at a table?


Well, five guys out to eat, why aren’t you at the bar? 

We were not entirely sure what answer she was looking for.

And they’ve got you at the worst table.

How do you mean?

Well, you’re the table right next to the kitchen door. I used to be a waitress in Madison and then I got “demoted” to hostess because, like, whatever. Anyway, a family comes in with a bunch of kids, you know, you put them back in the far corner, but the table right outside the kitchen was the worst.

Two things became obvious. First, she was not with the restaurant. Second, she had been drinking a lot. 

What are you guys talking about, anyway? 



We were picking our least favorite airports.

Really? That’s not like “code” for something else, is it? 

No. We were really talking about airports.

You know the airport, I really like?


Atlanta, because everything is really close. 

Actualy three things became obvious, our not-waitress was also looking for a friend. She was really looking for something in the conversation that she could latch onto. She switched from extoling the virtues of the Delta airlines hub to looking at random items on the table include the filled out checks. It was a mistake, at least when she reached for my bill. 

I quickly pulled it out of her reach and turned it face down. 


What’s the matter? Ashamed of your bill?

No. It’s just something I learned from my father, don’t pick up the bill unless you are actually going to pick up the bill. 

I’m not sure she got the double meaning.

I think you’re just embarrassed at the tip you left. I saw it. You left a one dollar tip.

There wasn’t a lot to be gained by engaging her in conversation. I was glad she was on the far side of the table.

What are you some sort of cheapskate? I can’t believe you only left a dollar.

I left a tip larger than a dollar, but I don’t think you need to see my check. 

Yeah, I think it was $1.23. It’s rude to leave a tip of only a dollar, you know.

Yes, it is. I know something even ruder.

My coworkers were trying to hide their smiles as the non-waitress and I exchanged less than pleasant glances. She finally lost interest in our table and returned to the bar where she alternated between talking to two men, neither of which seemed particularly interested in her.

Well, that was different.

I know. At first I thought she worked here and I thought, “I don’t recognize you.”

You know, Scott always did say this was a pickup bar. 

Yeah, we should have sent him a picture.

It became one more crazy story that binds teams together. 

My teammates laughed at my quick reaction to her reaching for my check. I hadn’t thought of it before, but it took me right back to being at dinner with my dad. Typically dinners were on a single check. When it arrived, the wait-staff would place it in a neutral location, equidistant from him and me. Neither of us were “that” guy. We were happy to pick up the check when it was our turn, and even a little more. 

But, there was a rule. And it was a hard and fast rule: 

If you touch the check, you pay the check. 

My dad was a professional gambler for much of his life. And like poker, where you have to pay to see your opponent’s hand, if you really wanted to know how much dinner cost, you needed to be willing to pay for the privilege. 

Yes, a $1 tip is rude. But, I know something far worse. 


(BTW, I left a $3 tip on a $17 tab.) 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
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