For years, I was a bartender/server. I raised my kids on tips, and let me tell you now... people can be super weird about tipping in general. It's like this little power trip for some, dangling that few dollars over a server's head like a little reminder of their supposed superiority. I dealt with my share of jerks in those days, but never anything like this: In Harrisonburg, Virginia, a Latina server recently got a nasty note instead of a tip, and that note alone should have all of us wondering about the atrocious state of our world.
Sadie Elledge, an 18-year-old server at Jess' Lunch was serving a couple their lunch when she started to feel a bit uncomfortable. Elledge said the couple wouldn't make eye contact (already hella weird), and barely spoke, just nodding in reply when she took their order or asked them questions. They ate their gyros and salads, drank their sodas, and got their bill accordingly. And when Elledge saw the receipt, she saw that the woman hadn't tipped and reportedly decided to leave a racist, misinformed, poorly written comment instead. "We only tip citizens," the alleged note read.
Please take a moment to read that over again while I fetch myself a glass of water.
So now we all have questions, of course. Like, how exactly does this couple determine who is and is not a U.S. citizen? (by the way, folks, Ellidge was born in the United States and is of Honduran and Mexican descent, not that it matters.) Do they enter a restaurant and demand to see the server's birth certificate or passport? That must get awfully hairy for them every once in a while... what if the server doesn't feel like providing proof of citizenship for their 20 percent tip? (I joke, of course... people like this are hard core 5 percenters, I feel it in my bones.)
Fortunately, Elledge has a good head on her shoulders and took the situation in stride with far more grace than some of us might have had.
"It doesn't really matter if I'm Hispanic or American, whatever you want to call it," she told WHSV-TV. "I'm still a person, you should still treat me with respect."
The internet, however, was not impressed, lashing out on Elledge's behalf:
Eldredge's outraged grandfather, local attorney John Elledge, was the one who posted the receipt on his Facebook page (proving again why grandfathers are the best). Jess' Lunch owner Angeliki Floros (who is also an immigrant) has since banned the couple from the restaurant, sharing this note on Facebook:
Jess' lunch is one of the oldest established businesses in Harrisonburg it was built by immigrants run by immigrants and loved by it's community. We have and always will stand behind our decisions we believe all people should treated equally , we have no animosity toward our fellow man we treat everybody with the same respect no matter where they're from . I am from Greece and I came to this country 15 years ago I have been shown nothing but love during the course of these events the decision we made was easy the restaurant will continue to support its staff in in situations of this nature we love our customers and we love the people in Harrisonburg (and all over the United States) for their support and understanding. We wish everybody a blessed day.
So now this couple, for no rational reason in the world, can't go back to enjoy a yummy gyro. Which they probably shouldn't like anyhow, on account of the gyro comes from another country.