“Look at this,” Louis says, handing me a check holder.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Just look.”

I open the bill holder. Inside’s a signed credit card slip. The check’s a hundred dollars. The tip?

Five bucks.

“Ouch,” I say. “That hurts.”

“Jerks,” Louis fumes. “Customers like that should be taken outside and shot.”

Somehow I think summary executions would drive away the clientèle,” I reply.

“It’d be cool though.”

“I agree.”

I let Louis fume. Every waiter has to deal with this frustrating rage occasionally. No matter how good the food or the service some people are incapable of leaving an adequate tip. The only thing a server can do is let the anger wash over them, put on their happy face, and hustle a better tip from the next table. But still….

“Some of these customers are sick,” I say, shaking my head.

“You ain’t kidding,” Louis fumes.

“Who leaves such horrible tips?”

“Sick cheap bastards.”

“If we could create a disease for these people,” I ask, “What would we call it?”

“Asshole Disease?” Louis suggests.

“Been done.”

“Bad Tippers Disease?”

“I think Shitty Tipper Disease has a better ring to it,” I say.

“An STD!” Louis exclaims, snapping his fingers. “I’ve always said some of our customers should’ve just been a venereal disease.”

“Well,” I say chuckling, “Not being able to tip is sort of a social disease.”

“What would be the symptoms?”

Suddenly I imagine myself wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope. Looking like one of those 50’s era doctors who hawked mentholated cigarettes on TV, I turn to an imaginary studio audience and begin to expostulate…

Good evening ladies and gentleman. I’m here to talk to you about a horrible malady afflicting millions of Americans. A disease so terrible that is causes untold suffering among the millions of waiters working throughout the United States. Its called Shitty Tippers Disease or STD for short. What’s truly alarming is that most of people who suffer from this disease don’t know they have it. Ask yourself, do you or your loved ones exhibit the flowing symptoms?


Social Retardation? Are you unable to say please or thank you?

Temporally Challenged? Do you assume you can get a table on Saturday night without a reservation?

Delusional thinking? Do you really believe the owner’s your friend?

Episodic cognitive impairment? Can calculate your severance package down to the penny but are struck dumb when figuring out 15% of a restaurant checks total?

Motivational apathy? Do you just double the tax?

Do you suffer from High Intracolonic Pressures?

Do you have a nonrelaxing puborectalis muscle? Are you a tight ass? Can you shit diamonds? Maybe you should use that botox on something besides your face.

Do you suffer from Enronic Sociopathy?(Otherwise know as Jeff Skillings Disease) Do you subscribe to an Al-Qaedaesque fundamental Darwinist view of the world? Do you believe people who work for a living are just sucking up your oxygen?

Do you suffer from an almost autistic sense of entitlement? Do you believe the world really revolves around you?

Are you from France?

Louis chuckles. “I think you have it covered,” he says.

“We need Jerry Lewis to do a telethon for our disease,” I grumble.

“Jerry’s a hero in France you know,” Louis says.

“So is Mickey Rourke.”

“Louis and I are quiet for a second.”

“I don’t think Jerry will do our telethon,” Louis says.

“How about getting our disease a colored ribbon of its very own?”

“That’s cold,” Louis says.

“Yeah,” I say, ignoring him.. “But what color could it be?”

“All the good ones are taken,” Louis replies, shrugging.

“That figures.”

“The disease is probably incurable anyway,” Louis says.

“I look at Louis sadly.”

“I’m afraid you might be right.”

24 thoughts on “Incurable”

  1. hallie says:

    hi, i just stumbled on your blog (linked through the book coming out – my main hobby is reading) and started at the beginning to work my way forward (in time). i really like your writing.

    i can’t let the ‘retarded’ and ‘autistic’ comments slide, though. i’m sure if you knew someone who lived with mental retardation, you’d find them a lot more pleasant than most of the customers you write about. assholery is largely confined to the average-minded. isn’t that something?

    and autists, like my husband, have something going for them, too – they’re aware of the difference between themselves and others. he’s much more pleasant and likely to follow social convention than i am. go figure.

    the STD is a good distinction, though. it made me laugh!

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Lisa says:

    Really, though, Hallie, you can’t judge like that. In many previous posts the Waiter has talked about another place he worked at, where he dealt with (real) mentally retarded people.

    I agree with the previous poster in saying that you need to read the whole blog.

  4. Laura says:

    Screw that why should she? People in real life won’t take the time to learn your whole back story before they judge you. If she finds it offensive that is her call and she has the right to make her point.
    Sometimes people do need to be careful of their language. Not for fear of offending a retarded (or black/gay/whatever) person but to make sure people don’t think you’re an asshat with no social graces.
    And by the way – love the blog and I was NOT offended by the post but then I have read the whole thing in 4 days (so far!) so I haven’t had time to forget your past 😛

  5. Karla says:

    Great writing. I hope the book is a best seller! Please don’t change a thing… It is pretty obvious that the supposedly derogatory “comments” were not to be taken literally. The were used for color and effect. It is pretty sad that people can not vent in a humorous and lighthearted way without someone trying to slam them. Hallie, you need to lighten up and try to see the positive side of life instead of always looking for something to criticize. I am a very protective,former special education teacher who still thinks fondly of my former students -some that were mentally handicapped or autistic. I do not think my former students(that are now adults) would take offense. I think this blog would bring some happiness and laughter into their life.

  6. Brynn says:

    I think the ribbon should be brown and green. . .

  7. klg19 says:

    It’s one thing to leave a shitty tip in cash, where maybe you’ve run short, but to leave a shity tip on a credit card? There is NO EXCUSE. People like that should die horribly, and in lingering pain.

  8. oneyeargone says:

    Bzzt- WRONG, klg19. Being short on money is not an acceptable excuse to tip shittily. If you don’t have enough money to pay for your meal AND leave an appropriate tip, then you do not have enough money to be dining out. End of discussion. If you notice when your check arrives that you’re short, you excuse yourself, ask where the nearest atm is, and get the rest.

  9. stephanie says:

    -sigh- I do believe that my mother is the embodiment of Shitty Tipper Disease. More often than not have I felt the urge to bump the tip left on my table after my mother has left in a huff complaining about the service. And if I have money on me, I do.

    Let me know if you find a cure. I will gladly volunteer her for experimental testing if need be.

  10. kee says:

    I agree with brynn- the colors should be brown and green.

    btw, this is his blog he can say what he wants if it offends you click the little ” x” in the upper right corner of the screen.

  11. Barista says:

    klg19 – I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I used to run delivery for a restaurant and had a customer tip me $2 on a $30 -credit card- order.

    To me, it’s understandable if the total is more than you thought and you’re short on a -cash- tip. I’ve been there. I once had to scrounge around to tip the pizza guy in change (the quarter, dime variety). However, there is absolutely no excuse for leaving a substandard credit card tip.

    Needless to say, the customer was blacklisted in the restaurant’s system and his orders were always bumbed to the end of the line. Moral of the story: tip less than 10% on your deliveries? You will wait over an hour for your cold, rubbery food.

  12. Uluru says:

    As a diagnosed Aspie (look it up) I say “Good Call!”

  13. Bradman says:

    So if customers get black balled for leaving a lousy tip, Do the customers that give you say a $10 tip for a $30 order go to the front of the line?

    Also what if the reason you only got $2 was because you were so fucking slow to begin with?

  14. dave says:

    “However, there is absolutely no excuse for leaving a substandard credit card tip.”

    Bullshit. That’s typical thinking of a few waiters I know – at least the ones who apparently have never seen the lowest form of service possible. I waited tables in a few of the more popular restaurants in the small town I went to college in. For just average service, I’ll tip 20%. But I once had this girl that was so bad, I didn’t return to the restaurant for a decade. I should have left when it took 15 minutes to get our drinks ordered. 45 minutes later, I’m fuming over her disappearance, no manager in sight, and drinks that have been empty for most of that 45 minutes. When she finally appears with our food, it is obvious to anyone that it has been sitting under a heat lamp for some time. The side of fries with my steak – well just picture your fast food fries that you left in your car all afternoon because you forgot to take them into the office to throw away. Same consistency and warmth. The only reason I stayed was because I’m stubborn and just had to see how much worse it could get. We had already made the decision to not eat the food so we wouldn’t be one of “those” people who eat it then expect it for free. When the manager finally made an appearance in the dining room, he came by to ask how things were and that’s when we unloaded. I showed him the food and told him that it’s exactly the way it was served to us and I also pointed out the drink glasses that had now been empty for ever an hour. I got a meek apology from him and he comped the bill. Everything else was left on the table just as it had been left by the girl who was way too inexperienced or just didn’t care. As we were headed to the door, she had the nerve to ask how everything was. I told her that I had never seen such horrible service in my life and suggested she apply at the local McDonald’s because she didn’t appear to have a very long life-expectancy as a server in even a buffet restaurant. I’m one of the easiest going people (according to people who know me) but this shit just pissed me off. Seriously, I’ve had bad service before but even if I think the person is making an honest attempt, they’ll get 15%. Less than honest attempt is 10% with a note why on the back on the slip or another piece of paper.

    What do you think my tip was for this girl? Any waiter who thinks I was wrong, has their head up their ass about their self-importance. Several of my waiter friends told me I did exactly as they would have. Not leaving a tip makes you look like an asshole but reaming out the server and telling her why she didn’t get the tip has always been the advice of every waiter I know in my part of the country.

    One of my best friends has been a waiter his entire working life. He tips well when it’s deserved but he also has a few things he’s very particular about. A server who doesn’t give their name (so he can ask for them if they disappear too long) will lose 2% (he starts at 30%). He deducts 1% for every minute that it takes for them to make their first appearance at the table to at least take a drink order or at least say “I’ll be right back.” He’s fair. He’ll also add for certain things.

    So, don’t give me this crap about it being unacceptable to leave a substandard tip when using a credit card. By the way, I paid for the drinks that I consumed just for the satisfaction of putting a big, fat zero in the tip line. If this girl needed the tips to live, she’s probably dead by now. This was a fairly nice restaurant but I’ve never seen service that bad at Denny’s or IHOP.

    I apologize if you think zero was not a substandard tip for the service I received. I just know a few people who think zero is never appropriate and, well, good luck in your career if that’s how you treat your customers and then bitch about the tips. The thing is that I know I’ve left some things out that I’ve long forgotten. Oh, yeah. Never did receive my bread.

  15. Anonymous says:

    dave needs therapy to learn how to let go of grudges

  16. Holly says:

    I’m beginning to think “waiter” has a case of “Walter Mitty” syndrome…

  17. John says:

    Simple solution: every receipt from a restaurant should simply print the value for a recommended tip (calculated at 20%)

  18. snafu says:

    dave, I think you sort of missed the point. The point of the cash vs. credit card thing was that there is occasionally a legitimate reason for leaving a low cash tip even on good service, but if you leave a low tip on a credit card it means you did it intentionally. No one was commenting about leaving a low tip because it was deserved, I don’t think anyone would argue with your right to do that.

    Then again your life might be longer and happier if you didn’t freak out over one bad meal. 😉

  19. KD says:

    Oneyeargone is correct. If you know you treated the table well and they had no complaints and they leave a shitty tip on a credit card they have no business eating out. IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD THE TIP YOU CANNOT AFFORD AND SHOULDN’T BE EATING OUT!!!!! The economy is no excuse either. People are now tipping less because the economy sucks. THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING EATING OUT!!! THEY CAN’T AFFORD IT!!

  20. Todd says:

    Last Saturday night…
    Our congressman comes in with his dog three friends, and asks to be seated. We sneak him past the other horrified patrons, bring a bowl of water for said pooch, hook him up with a bottle of wine. He waxes on about how this is his favorite restaurant (we hosted a campaign fundraiser of his back in June). He leaves $30 on a $280 check.
    Same goddamn night. A couple is seated at 9 o’fucking clock. At 10:45 they ask for a cab. This is a little island in the middle of the Pacific. There are no cabs after 6pm. Their server offers to take them to their hotel in her personal vehicle. This is not an advertised service, just her being nice. They reply, “Thanks, we’ll be ready after we finish our wine”. One hour and a 10 mile car ride later they leave $10 on a $250 tab. Nice. Canadians btw. Stay home if you’re not going to tip, eh?

  21. PunyHobbit says:

    That whole deducting percentages thing is irratating.
    If you start at 30% and start deducting a percenting point for every percieved injustice you’re just looking for excuses not to tip well.
    What’s worse is putting a stack of money on the table and start taking away dollars everytime the server doesn’t bend over backwards for you.
    If you are fortunate enough to be able to go out to dinner, jusy enjoy it! You don’t have to be the judge and jury of your server. Just have a nice time and be nice to your server and they will be nice to you!!

  22. Cath says:

    Why in the hell do you feel the need to point out that the people who tipped you poorly were Canadians? I am a Canadian server and baby let me tell you it doesn’t matter where the fuck you are from, every asshole in the world has the potential to be a lousy tipper. I realize that I am biased as a server and that I, personally, am an over-tipper, but dude, Canadians can tip just as bad as Americans, or Germans, Puerto Ricans, whatever, eh?
    By the way, if this sounds a little bitter it’s only because I just had to rescue my dog from a rabid polar bear behind my fucking igloo.

  23. Not Anonymous Just Forgot My Name says:


    I read your comment and I have to say you’re just as much of an asshole as those shitty tippers.

  24. JR says:

    I have family members who like to inform the table that you don’t have to pay tips on the tax portion of the bill. So when the new payment devices come, my Aunt will lower the suggested tip to 14%. She did this once in front of me while the waitress looked on. I was so embarrassed I will never eat with her in a restaurant again. And you are spot on, not one person in my family thanked her and constantly sent her back for whatever items they felt the meal was not living up to. Urgh.

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