Here’s A Tip: Don’t Leave Your Waiter A Rude Note In Lieu Of 20%, Even If You Don’t Like Their Ink

Although approximately 14% of Americans have at least one tattoo, they may still have to be careful about showing them off in the workplace. One food service worker recently learned that the hard way when she received a rude, religious note on her check instead of a tip — all because of a rainbow equality tattoo on her arm.

According to the CDC, sterilization machines used in tattoo parlors have to be tested at least once every week to ensure their clients have a safe experience. Unfortunately, those tests won’t ensure that clients will feel safe (or will be treated fairly) once their ink has healed. Samantha Heaton, the Illinois server in question, was shocked and hurt when she saw the family of five on whom she had waited had written, “Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus!” and “Bad tatoo [sic]” on the receipt.

Ironically, Heaton told the Rock River Times that she identifies as a Christian. During the time Heaton waited on the family, no one mentioned religion, sexuality, or her tattoo.

“I myself am a Christian. And, as a Christian, thou shall not judge,” Heaton said. “No matter how someone looks, you should love them for what’s in their heart and how they treat you, not for what is on the outside.”

She added, “As someone who came out when it was still a battle for the LGBTQ community, that’s just plain rude and uncalled for. What if one day their kids grow up and want to be with the same sex, are they going to disown them? Throw them on the street? … The kids are going to be under the impression that it will be OK to discriminate against anybody.”

Regardless of personal beliefs, most people would agree that it’s inappropriate to withhold tip for good service. In fact, you should probably be tipping more (or more frequently) than you already are. Around 34% of Americans visit casual dining restaurants once per week. For sit-down restaurants, a 20% tip is standard. That tip goes not just to your server but to all those behind the scenes who work to make your meal. For meal delivery, 15% is usually sufficient, while 10% is typically fine for carry-out. For coffee shops and the like, a tip of a dollar or two is recommended.

Interestingly, there are certain behaviors that can result in higher tip percentages, even if they don’t necessarily mirror superior service. When diners receive wrapped chocolates with their check, the average tip is around 18%; without those candies, the average tip is only 15%. If a server writes “Thank You” on the back of the check, the tip may increase by 2%, while servers who introduce themselves by name may expect to see an 8% increase in their tip at the end of the night.

But no matter what, unless you receive truly abhorrent service, you should never withhold a tip. And if you do believe you’ve been subjected to subpar behavior from your server, talk to the manager rather than leaving a rude note — unless you really want to go viral on social media for your poor etiquette, that is.

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