Creative Nonfiction Literature

Show Us Your Tips | Alanna Levesque

To the Customer Who Doesn’t Tip,

For about an hour, I catered to your every need. I made sure your glasses were full of water, brought lemons, extra napkins, variety of sauces, silverware, chopsticks, dessert menus, and everything you needed to enjoy dancing eel roll, salmon sushi, tuna sashimi and a miso soup. I have not done this much cardio any of the times I have gone to the gym. I laughed at your terrible jokes, shrugged off your come on’s, put down’s and sexual innuendos. After you leave and walk to your car, it is up to me alone, to clear the tables of all the dishes, cups, spilled soy sauce and table crumbs coating the booth and trickle onto the floor. It is after the table has been cleared, cleaned and set for the next customer I peek into the black book to see the gratuity left behind to exhibit your appreciation.  To my dismay, there is a big, fat, lonely zero on the tip line. Immediately I think there was a cash tip, but the checkbook is empty. My pockets are empty. You left nothing.

Maybe you couldn’t afford to tip. If that is the case, I am sorry for the financial insecurity. However, you are able and willing to spend one-hundred dollars on sushi, but do not have the money to leave gratuity? What is more remarkable is you taking the time assuring me the food was delicious and service was incredible. My friend, I would like to inform you thanks do not fill banks.

Maybe, math is not your strong suit, I understand. I am an English major and haven’t been in a math class in three years. But figuring out a twenty percent tip is much easier than you would expect. Take the decimal, move it over one spot to the left, multiply what is on the left by two. AND I’M BEING NICE! WE LIST THE TIPS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RECEIPT! You owe me twenty percent!

As a waitress in Connecticut, I make $6.38 an hour because tips are recorded and should average to the state’s minimum wage. Between my two jobs, I work an average of forty hours a week. This adds up to $255.20 before taxes are taken out. This money goes towards my tuition, repairing my car, gas, insurance, food, and anything else that might come up in the pay period. All of this has to come from my own pocket. My parents always told me, if I want something it is my job to get it on my own. When I turned sixteen, they did not buy me a car, or give me money for it. Aside from my birthday and Christmas, they do not buy me clothes, shoes, jackets or even socks. When I started college, I knew from the beginning this is my responsibility.

I wish I did not have to rely on the generosity of strangers for my income, but here I am pretending I give a shit about a random man’s “crazy ex-wife” and the drunk woman trying to hook me up with her unemployed son. I can barely afford my tuition payments, let alone take care of an underachieving man child with shrimp tails hanging out of his mouth.

My manager always tells me tips balance out. When one person tips terribly, another will tip wonderfully. Ever since I was a child, I have been personable. My teachers always told my parents I had great social skills, but they wished I would leave them at the classroom door. In three years of serving, I have mastered reading people. There are some couples who want to be asked how their food is and left alone. Others want to share their whole life story, show pictures of their dogs and add you on Facebook when they leave. When they really like you, they use your name in their Yelp review raving about the high-quality spicy mayo.

Customers tell me I am great, but the verbal compliments do not put food in my stomach. It is very nice of someone to go out of their way to assure me I do a good job at work. However, when I am one hundred dollars short for my tuition payment, I cannot tell the Bursar’s office they do an amazing job instead of giving them money.

 

Headline photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

Blue Muse Magazine is a general interest literary magazine published by the students of the English Department at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. We publish poetry, fiction, and a gamut of creative nonfiction on anything and everything the blue muse inspires us to write.

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