Her feet were aching and she lets out a moan as she nearly finishes another grueling shift. It’s not like she planned on being a waitress forever; she had dreams, big dreams.
Dreams that involved saving up enough to pay her student fees and starting fresh somewhere. Anywhere but here.. She was already lost for words when she saw the life-changing tip on the table, but when her boss snatched it away from her, tears fell from the waitress’s eyes landing on her crisp, red uniform.
Shikira Edwards had worked part-time at Diner for three years to pay her way through dental school. The dedicated and focussed young woman could put up with being ordered around for the chance to secure her future, but she longed for the day when she could finally hang up her apron for good.
As she ties her hair up, ready for another long shift, Shikira looks at herself in the mirror and imagines how it would feel to be debt-free. Little did she know, later on in the morning she was about to find out.
Shikira was no stranger to having to deal with difficult customers, so encountering a kind and thoughtful diner would always take her by surprise. The woman she was serving that morning was a breath of fresh air on what had been a very stressful morning.
“She appreciated my smile,” beamed Edwards. It was only when she started to clear the table after she and her husband left that she realized just how much she, “appreciated her smile.”.
Right there, sat on the table amongst dirty dishes and empty bottles of wine, was an astonishing tip paid by credit card for over $4,000. Shikira’s heart drops as she stares at the check open-mouthed. Picking it up, her hand shakes as a rush of emotion overwhelms her.
It was like being handed a winning lottery ticket!. She didn’t like to bother her manager, but after drying the tears from her cheeks and taking in deep breaths, she slapped on a brave face and approached her manager to tell him the good news. But he would think differently.
Making her way to the manager’s office, Shikira had already begun spending all the money in her head.
After paying off some of her $33,000 student debt, she’d planned to donate to a mentorship program that helps teens with depression.. Shikira felt good knowing her money would be put to good use but unbeknownst to her, her boss was about to pull the rug right out from underneath her.
Shikira’s manager stares at the enormous sum on the check-in utter disbelief. Could this be right. He’d heard of waitresses receiving huge tips like this before, but he’d never seen it happen on his watch.
After some deliberation and a few awkward moments, Shakira’s manager carefully slid the check into his back pocket. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But this is staying with me.” And then he explained that, if she really wanted it back, she’d have to do something for him. Something she never, ever imagined doing.
Shikira’s manager calmly informed her that he might let her have the money – but there was a catch. The exhausted waitress couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Was he being serious?. It hurt Shikira the way they told her something like this as a business, and it was as if she was out of place and out of line to ask for something that she knew she deserved!
Shikira immediately started looking up other waitresses who had received astonishing tips like Shikira – and found hundreds of heartwarming stories of hard-working waitresses who’d seen their dreams come true. On average waitresses in the United States can earn between $298 and $500 a week, so a tip like this was enough to make them break down in tears.
All their problems were solved. But for Shikira, that was her future in the manager’s pocket. But could she ever do what he was asking?
There was no way she could do it. Fair enough Shikira could turn her entire life around, but what she’d have to do to get it was too much.
Far too much.. She takes a look at her graduation photo and remembers the only thing that mattered was to pay down her debt and become a full-time dental assistant. After she shots a stiff drink and takes a deep breath Mx Shikira knew what she had to do.
Her manager had told her that in order to process the tip, she‘d have to track down and find the customer to confirm that they really intended to leave such a huge tip.
But how could a dental assistant that worked part-time at a diner find someone who wasn’t even a regular customer. It seemed impossible.
Shikira contemplated the actions of the manager and tried to decide on the best course of action. She wouldn’t be surprised if someone at the restaurant tried to keep it for themselves.
She knew that the business was short-staffed, low on supplies, and was defined by low morale. It wasn’t exactly The Ritz. But then suddenly, she had an idea.
Shikira grabs her cellphone and took to Facebook and to Twitter in hopes of finding the person who had left her such a generous tip. But, unfortunately, after weeks with no leads, her search had turned up nothing.
She was feeling both stumped and heartbroken. But, although internet users worldwide couldn’t help her track the tipper down, they were soon sitting up and taking notice of her story.
Soon after the post, the restaurant’s Facebook page was bombarded with comments from people who had read about the story. Everyone thought that the diner had no right to withhold a tip from one of their employees.
One user wrote: “Are you kidding me!. I’m sure there’s some loophole that will allow them to justify keeping it. Even with a winning ticket; just can’t win.” And it wasn’t long before the local news stations got involved as well.
Shikira contacted the local news to tell them her story in the hope that the customer would see the broadcast and ultimately let her manager give her what was rightfully hers.
The waitress felt the restaurant had shamed her by suggesting she should have been more diligent at her job and blamed her for spreading misinformation.
Shikira was incensed, and she had every right to be. She’d worked the long hours, cleaned the dirty plates, and shut up and smiled when customers got angry, and she had never complained.
But this was just too much.. “You’re going to tell me that it’s my fault that I didn’t get the information on a customer when they left and tipped me?” she said. “I don’t know who tipped me!”.
‘We would like to make it clear that we would never withhold tips or wages from any of our employees.
However, we also has an obligation to ensure that our guests are charged the proper amount for their meals,’ The restaurant said in a statement.. ‘In this case, the restairant was obliged to investigate and verify the guest did in fact intend to leave such a large tip.’.
It’s alarming that not many people are aware that workers in the service industry aren’t paid in the same way as those with jobs in other industries. They receive a “tipped minimum wage,” which only amounts to a fraction of the federal minimum wage!. Tips are designed to cover the rest of a server’s income, but there is no guarantee that they will.
This leaves waiters praying their paying customers will be generous enough to leave a tip. It’s an unfair system. But would Shikira get what she deserved?
‘We have met with Ms. Edwards and advised her of the outcome of the investigation and we understand the disappointment our server must feel in receiving this news,’ a representative said in a media statement.
Despite their statement, Shikira was still furious at the company she spent the past two years working for. But to make things even more worse, Shikira was about to receive some bad news…
‘We conducted a thorough investigation into this matter and has discovered the tip in question was made in error,” the statement continued.
“It was ultimately determined that the guest, who is elderly and unfamiliar with the debit system used at this location, entered a tip amount of $4,451.61 when he intended to leave a $4 tip on his bill. Shikira was heartbroken.
‘We have also taken steps to ensure that staff is better equipped to handle similar situations in the future,’ the spokesman continued, ‘We are committed to both our guests and our employees and will always seek to provide the fairest and most reasonable resolution under any circumstances,’. Shikira couldn’t believe it.
All of her thoughts and worries that seemed to have faded away soon came crashing into her again. And there was nothing she could do.