Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stories of financial crisis, job loss and the like have made headlines on a regular basis. Against this grim backdrop, an anonymous customer at an US eatery is now making headlines for generously tipping the staff. And when we say it was a generous tip, we mean that he ate a meal worth around $37 and then left an additional $16,000.
The incident took place earlier this month at The Stumble Inn Bar and Grill in the Londonderry area of New Hampshire. According to an AP report, the staff did not immediately realise the magnitude of the tip, placed as it was within a credit card statement. Owner Mike Zarella told the news agency that he had initially thought it was a mistake. The customer, who reportedly expressed his wish to be anonymous, then assured the bar manager that he had indeed intended to leave the massive tip.
"I want you to have it, you guys work hard," he reportedly told one staffer after she wondered if he was serious.
Photos of the bill have since gone viral. In it, one can see his order total (for two chili dogs, fried pickle chips and a few cocktails) below which is the handwritten tip amount. His total bill was for $16,037.93.
The restaurant in question had closed for a few months during the pandemic, focusing on take-out orders and outdoor dining. According to reports, the staff now plan to split the tip among themselves. “The back of the house works really hard, the kitchen, they’re giving them a big tip out of that, which is very generous of them to do,” AP quoted Zarella as saying.
The news has left Twitter in awe, with some joking that they now wished they had not left the service industry. But even as countless netizens exclaimed in admiration, others pointed out that the situation was also somewhat problematic. "Imagine if restaurant workers didn't need to rely on rare, random acts of enormous kindness in order to get by," one Twitter user remarked.
Others voiced concern over the division of the tip amount between the entire team. "If that happened where I use to work the owner would make then hand it over to her. Because she doesn't allow tips," remarked another user.
"Unless the person who left that tip specifically requested it be split between all staff or the restaurant's usual policy is to split every tip, it should go to whoever served that table. Otherwise, this amounts to stealing over $15,000 from that server," contended a third.