My elderly mother-in-law wanted to treat us to dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday, so we decided to go to the Golden Duck on the spur of the moment. The food was delicious, especially the double-cooked pork and sesame chicken, but the evening ended on a sour note.
My mother-in-law is becoming confused and forgetful, and she never leaves enough money for a tip, so we have developed the habit of waiting behind after she has put the money on the tip tray. When she heads for the door, one of us pretends to have dropped something and surreptitiously slips some extra money onto the tray so the server doesn't get stiffed. This has always worked pretty well.
However, this evening my mother-in-law handed the bill and money directly to our server and told him to keep the change. Although this foiled our usual plan of action, we still planned to leave extra money after she had left the table, because she gave him only $6 for what should have been a $10 or $11 tip. The server took the money to the cash register and returned a couple of minutes later. He held out the bill and money on the tip tray, pointed to the total amount of the bill, and said to my mother-in-law, "This $6 is the tip?" -- as if he were scolding her.
I once worked in food service, so I know it's upsetting when you work hard and someone leaves you a pittance, but I also think it's incredibly rude to deliberately embarrass a 90-year-old lady in front of her family. She was almost in tears on the way home. We left another $5 for the waiter, but I doubt very much that we'll go back to the Golden Duck again.
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