DEAR MISS MANNERS: A young college-student friend has begun working as a waitress at an inexpensive, off-campus restaurant catering to students. One evening, she served a group of eight, and even though one of the students recognized her as a classmate, they behaved like spoiled, demanding brats during their two-hour meal.
Upon receiving their bill of less than $100 for the group, they demanded eight separate checks, haggled over the tax calculation, and departed without leaving a single penny tip. My fragile young friend, who cannot survive on the $2.50 or so per hour minimum wage she receives, was left in tears.
My reaction would have been to explode in outrage, but I would like to know how the more genteel Miss Manners would have handled the situation.
GENTLE READER: Tipping and haggling are awkward and unseemly practices under the best of circumstances. And they are considerably more so when the process is executed by young people navigating their finances for the first time. Or who come seeking discounts or other advantages that your friend could not provide, nor need try to.
Ordinarily, Miss Manners would suggest that your friend avoid such tables, citing a conflict of interests, but if the restaurant is frequented by her classmates, it may prove impossible. Since the job seems to be neither lucrative nor good for your niece’s collegiate and social life, Miss Manners strongly recommends that if at all possible, she seek employment elsewhere. Exploding in outrage would have given her no choice.