Dining dirt on stingy stars and tipping tips for the rest of us
BY RICHARD BENJAMIN
Surely, no reader of the Phoenix has ever stiffed a waitress. Yet as crazy as it may sound to our courteous readership, there are people out there who are either horribly stingy or downright neglectful with their post-dining oblations. While this might seem like a minor infraction, the repercussions could be quite severe on the scorned wait staff. Picture a rudely snubbed waitress being overwhelmed by an all-encompassing rage, perhaps turning to a life of violent crime (or at least the incorporation of half-clean spoons into the clean silverware bin) as a result. Or, even worse, a waiter keeling over onto a dirty kitchen floor, eyes lachrymose and guilt-ridden, wondering how-oh-how he could have possibly provided better service. Fortunately, there’s now a healthier outlet for such anger and confusion: www.bitterwaitress.com is a Web page dedicated to airing the complaints of what the site proudly calls “the most noble of professions.”
Though the run-of-the-mill bitch sessions are mildly entertaining, the site’s highlight is the large archive of stories dealing with celebrities and well-known politicians. While it is mildly interesting to read about an unnamed gentleman’s annoying requests, it is downright fascinating to hear about the relentless waitress-badgering that comes from, say, Rudy Guliani or Sharon Stone. Among those notorious for being poor tippers are Kathie Lee Gifford, Pat Sajak, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis (who allegedly left a sub-dollar pile of change at a café in Grand Rapids, Michigan). Even Boston’s own Steven Tyler is a well-known “10-percenter.”
Yet bitterwaitress.com is not entirely scornful. There are also a number of stories about kind celebrities and generous tippers. Apparently U2’s Bono and the Edge are consistently affable and generous, as are Alanis Morrisette and Shaquille O’Neal (despite the latter allegedly having a habit of good-naturedly mooning service staff). Matt Dillon is also reported to be a nice guy and a good tipper, though he and his friends have been known to occasionally smoke a bong under the dining-room table; my guess is that this posse orders a fair number of appetizers, as well.
From these collected anecdotes, bitterwaitress.com has compiled an interesting list of tipping trends. Music-industry executives don’t always tip well, but movie executives usually do. Extending the rap rivalry into the realm of gratuities, East coasters reportedly have a leg up on West coasters. And for the most part, big stars tip well, but B-listers such as Gary Busey are often “cheap and angry assholes.”
Yet bitterwaitress.com is hopeful for a better future. Besides war stories and diatribes, the site offers advice on how to properly treat wait staff as well as atone for any past wrongs inflicted on this oft-mistreated profession. The tutorial is pretty basic stuff, ranging from whether one should include the price of complimentary food or drinks in figuring out the tip (yes, duh) to major faux pas in tip-leaving (pennies and nickels are a no-no, always). Oh, and 15 percent is the bare minimum for decent service, so Massachusetters should think about quadrupling the 5% meal tax if service is above average. Is some of this “helpful advice” little more than propaganda for our beloved servers? Of course, but I know that I wouldn’t want to end up on their shit list.
Issue Date: June 25, 2001