With the rise of social media, it is becoming more common to read stories of servers posting the credit card receipts of guests to show the size of the tip they received. This can include terrible tips that guests have left. It has also grown to include showing the incredible tips left by celebrities and athletes. The latter of these circumstances are often done with the best of intentions. Despite these intentions, I would strongly advise a server against this because of the unforeseen consequences it can bring.
While this is not a new topic, it did hit close to home today. When I fired up the computer this morning, I had a notification of Facebook about a story that had been shared with me. As soon as I saw the headline, I knew some server would be regretting a careless decision. The story was from a local television station and showed a credit card receipt with an absurdly large tip. It was from a local professional football player who I had waited on a few times a couple years ago at a previous restaurant job.
I am intentionally being vague with the identity of this player. I will say that as a non-football fan, he is my favorite player on the team. I don’t know if he is good or not. That is irrelevant to me. What makes him my favorite has nothing to do with what he does on the field. He does tip well, but so do most of his teammates. A good tip is always appreciated, but a great guest is always welcome.
What always stood out to me about this particular player is that he would take his family out after the game. Even when his teammates were partying it up on the other side of the dining room, his focus was on his family. He was gracious when the occasional autograph seeker would come by, but quickly returned his focus to those around him. Humility after a victory is not a common trait among athletes I have served. He had it in excess. He was always kind to his server and polite to those around him. I always got the impression that he was a very private person and tried to afford him that privacy.
This is why the story bothered me so much. A tip is a private exchange of gratitude. It is not to be shared with everyone. I will gladly mention the names of guests that tip me well in polite conversation. There is a large delineation between that and posting a credit card receipt showing the exact tip on a television station’s website. This is where issues of privacy come into play.
Even though the server might have felt like posting the tip was a compliment to the guest, the perception can be quite different. It is broadcasting a private transaction. The wealthy have enough people asking them for money without their generosity being publicized. Not to mention the expectations of the next server who waits on them. At this point even a great tip would be perceived as negative to another server who has seen this receipt.
All guests deserve a degree of privacy regarding their tips. There is nothing wrong with providing a heads up to a co-worker that a guest is very generous. Publicizing it through social or traditional media is crossing the line though. A guest’s tip is a private display of respect for the job a server does. Every guest is owed the same respect in protecting their privacy.