Upset that he had to wear a mask—which would protect him and those around him from this thing called the pandemic—to enter the restaurant, the customer took out his anger on the server.
A man in Lincoln, Nebraska, left his server a five-cent tip on a $38 meal because he didn't approve of the restaurant's mask policy. Upset that he had to wear a mask—which would protect him and those around him from this thing called the pandemic—to enter the restaurant, the stingy customer left Ali Siverhus, a server at the Big Red East restaurant in Lincoln, a hand-written message expressing his misplaced indignation. "Get rid of masks, tips will be bigger," the man wrote, as though depriving Siverhus of a fair tip was somehow an appropriate response to the city-wide mask mandate.
Sharing a photo of the bill on which the customer had scribbled his note on Facebook, Siverhus wrote: "So this happened to me tonight. Just wrong on so many levels. First and foremost, the masks are a city mandate and there is nothing I or [the] management can do about it. How is me wearing a mask affecting this man? Here in Lincoln, restaurant customers are not even required to wear masks at their table. Second, servers make less than 3$ an hour typically, so our entire pay depends on tips. I was very nice to this guy and his young son, they got their drinks and food on time and when I asked them how everything was tasting he said it was good and had no complaints."
A waitress who works next door to my restaurant said she got a 5 cent tip and on the receipt there was a note that it was that low because of the fact she was wearing a mask and if she wasn’t wearing one it would have been bigger...I was so pissed for her, biggest asshole move— Seph (@luna3ris) August 2, 2020
Speaking to Scary Mommy, Siverhus revealed that her coworkers have also been hearing other customers complaining about having to wear a mask in the restaurant. "Customers only have to wear a mask when they aren't seated, so while they are at their table they are free to take it off," she said. "They really only have to wear it for about 30 seconds — from the door to their seat and vice versa — so it really shouldn't be that big of a deal. And to get upset at the employees who absolutely have to wear the mask to be allowed to work is just ridiculous!"
Done! Our winery staff and our winemaker felt bad for what Ali went through. We have had people get upset over wearing masks at our facility. @WINEMKRinHeels has #Stage4 cancer so we are extra cautious here. #MaskUp pic.twitter.com/FLPv9MTun8— Danenberger Wines (@DFVwines) August 6, 2020
Anyone who's ever worked as a server — and those with even a teaspoon worth of empathy — will understand Siberhus' disappointment. Even under normal circumstances, tips are what help servers stay afloat as their paychecks are barely enough to cover their bills. Now, with a pandemic joining the mix and taking a huge toll on the service industry, they've been forced into becoming essential workers — putting their wellbeing at risk in the process — so as to be able to keep a roof over their heads since the coronavirus stimulus checks (for those who've received it) aren't enough to last them forever.
The servers aren’t to blame. Establishments are adhering to guidelines, so a 5 cent tip for the person happily bringing your meal, is just being mean— 𝘎𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘮 ♻️ (@Omicron_Theta1) August 6, 2020
Sheena Ammon, a server at a restaurant in Lincoln, explained how the pandemic's effect on the service industry has left those who rely on tips struggling to get by. "To have your income impacted so immensely for something out of your control is so hard," she told 10/11. On top of fewer customers coming into restaurants—thereby already slashing the tip money they'd make in a day—many customers direct their frustration over the mask mandate towards their servers.
Nebraska waitress get 5 cent tip, told "get rid of masks" by customer https://t.co/U1lZ3KR1s1— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 6, 2020
"When you go into restaurants and lash out at servers and write mean notes or leave mean tips to undermine them," Ammon said. "You are affecting someone's livelihood, you may be making a political statement, but we're just doing what we're told." Although she hasn't been in a situation like Siverhus' yet, she revealed that she's had customers getting upset at her about mask mandate. She said she wishes such customers would remember that their servers aren't responsible for these mandates. "It's above my pay grade," said Ammon.
Which workers have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? "The lowest-paid group is dominated by service-industry occupations. The highest-paid group is mostly a mix of executive and various professional occupations." https://t.co/R77E2bUjrX pic.twitter.com/2m6IOpEPe9— Zoraida Sánchez (@Zoraida14_San) August 2, 2020
"We're not asking for giant tips," she added. "We're asking for people to be respectful and know we're doing the best we can." Meanwhile, Rex Shroeder, the man who said he left the tip, reached out to the network and claimed to have left $10 cash along with the receipt. He said he never meant for the tip to reflect poorly on the server but instead was a "dig at the establishment" as he's not a fan of the mask mandate in Lincoln.