It was a chaotic Friday evening and a waiter was busy serving tables. Everyone wanted to eat on the restaurant’s patio because the weather was wonderful. But he was in high demand because he was the only server working outside. As he served other tables, he noticed that a mysterious patron was eyeing everything he was doing. Then, the unusual stranger left shortly after receiving his bill. The server immediately took the bill, and went after him.
31-year-old David Fabila is a server at a wine bar named House of Oliver in Roseville. He lives in Sacramento, California, and is expecting his fourth child, so he desperately needs this job. But that particular Friday night, something odd had happened. The restaurant was packed, and David was tense. But then, things got really weird.
Friday nights are always busy at the House of Oliver. But the temperature that evening was perfect so people were eager to sit outside and enjoy the lovely weather. David usually bartended, but that night he was asked to be the server for the patio section. And much to his shock, things keep getting extremely busy. Then, a mysterious patron appeared.
David tried to stay calm while he asked the restaurant management for some help. They were understaffed that night and couldn’t spare anyone to help him. David had also confessed to his co-workers that he was having a rough time. He was already exhausted from working at his other job. David had no idea that on this warm summer night, he was going to get an unexpected surprise.
Steffen Berr was the mystery man who sat at one of the tables on the patio. Of course, at the time, David Fabila was already busy waiting on other patrons. At first, he hadn’t noticed Berr sitting there. David had never met this guest before. He had no way of knowing that he was about to radically change the course of his evening.
It takes a lot of patience to work in the service industry. Not everyone is cut out to serve others for several hours. David Fabila had no choice but to work at House of Oliver. This was his second job, and he needed the money to support his family. During the day, he worked at a casino resort as a bar porter. But in all of his years as a server, he could have never foreseen or expected the situation he was now facing.
It’s not uncommon for servers to receive great tips, average tips, or in some instance, some very bad tips. But most restaurant patrons don’t realize that these servers depend on these tips in order to pay their rent, their utilities, and to buy food for themselves and their family. But Steffen Berr had something planned when he chose to sit in David’s area.
With each passing second, the night became more and more hectic. David was so busy that he sometimes wondered if he had gotten everyone’s orders correct. But he didn’t know that the mysterious stranger was watching everything he was doing. Berr ate his meal and waited patiently for David to walk up to him.
Berr asked for the check. David immediately walked over and gave it to him. Then, he went to serve a table full of guests who needed his services. But David was mindful that he had to close the stranger’s bill. After wrapping up with the other patrons, he headed back.
David returned to the stranger’s table to pick up the check with the money, but Berr was gone. David assumed that he wrote a check or left the exact change in cash. Most people asked to pay with a credit card or waited for their change, but that didn’t always happen. Then David took a look at the bill and was stunned.
“I pulled the check out to close it, and when I pulled it out, that’s when I saw everything. Their bill was very expensive it was like $190-something, that’s exactly the tip they left me,” said David. Berr paid his bill, but he left a tip of nearly $200 in the tip line. So, the bill nearly came out to $400. Next to it, Berr had written: “We’re young, but we’re worth serving.” David was so shocked that he had to read the check to make sure that his eyes weren’t deceiving him.
David initially assumed that the stranger had made a mistake. He double checked the total just to be sure, and he still couldn’t believe his eyes. So, he went looking for the man who had just left. “Unless you work in the service industry, you don’t really understand how much tips mean to a server, to a bartender,” David told CBS. He continued to search for the stranger.
David was overwhelmed by the kind gesture, but he needed to make sure. He tracked down Berr, who was a 24-year-old student at Sacramento State. He was extremely grateful to the young man for the big tip. Later, Fabila went on Facebook and shared the story on his wall. “Thank you again to everyone who supported Steffen, and I’m glad this story was told!!! He is so young and JUST AN INTERN who goes to college.”
Berr was once a server at a diner. So, he knew what David had gone through that night at the wine bar. It was so busy, and Berr wanted to recognize everything that David had done. Steffen Berr told CBS, “I’ve been in his shoes before too, I used to work as a waiter in a diner in Texas, so I decided to show him what he did is appreciated.”
A couple of people have matched their bills to their tips following the “Tip the Bill Challenge.” But Berr didn’t do what he did as part of the challenge. He didn’t know David, or that he was struggling financially. He also didn’t know that he was going to be a father… again. But this made his act of kindness even more special. Berr did what he did because David went above and beyond, and rewarding him felt like the right thing to do.
Steffen’s senior year of college was finally over, and now, he wanted to give back and celebrate with love. “I had this money that I didn’t expect to have so I wanted to share some of that,” said Steffen. “I didn’t plan on it. It happened. I didn’t know his situation either. I am just really glad I did it. I’m in a position where I have the resources and luck to do this so why not just go for it.” David was taken aback and couldn’t be more grateful.
Finally, David was asked if he’d like to say anything to Steffen after his incredible act of kindness, and of course, he took the chance to express his gratitude:”You totally just made everything so much better and like I said, you have no idea what you did for me and what made it so great, that he didn’t know anything about me.” But is there a reason why tipping a bill is considered now a way to “pay it forward”?
The “Tip the Bill Challenge” is a way to show your respect and appreciation to servers who give great service. In today’s world, people have gotten accustomed to receiving good service without rewarding it in any way. Eater claims that 40 percent of people have no idea that you’re supposed to tip anything between 15 and 20 percent, which makes a huge difference to anyone working in the service industry, especially because of the way the law works.
A lot of people are unaware that in the United States, there’s such a thing as “tipped minimum wage,” which affects people in the service industry. Servers and bartenders only get a fraction of of their states’ normal minimum wage. It is expected that the rest will come out of the pockets of clients who reward their service with tips. Needless to say, this doesn’t always end up happening, which is why so many folks are hoping for a change.
Thankfully, the world is well aware of how unfair the system is, and in 2015, Danny Meyer, who’s a well-known New York City restaurateur, decided to bring change forward by getting rid of tipping at the restaurants he oversees. His hope is that one day, tipping will be a thing of the past. He said, “I just decided — instead of blaming the tipping system for what didn’t seem fair or right, why not take it into our own hands?” Perhaps people like him will finally get rid of the insanely unfair tipping system that affects both servers and clients.