A Foodie’s Dilemma

I like to regard this space as the thinking woman’s guide to travel and food. So, this seems like the perfect place to start a discussion about something that happened to me yesterday, and what you, my fellow Rollerbag Goddesses, think I should do about it.

I was having lunch with a dear friend at a favorite local place, where I often grab a bite–the food is authentic and delicious, the prices are good, and the staff are always friendly and prompt. When it was time for our check, our waiter–a man who had waited on my table many times–told me in hushed tones that the owner of the restaurant had claimed I hadn’t paid my bill the last time I was in, and thus, docked his pay for the $13.69 a friend and I spent on two entrees and a drink. He said he didn’t believe that I would walk out on my bill; the owners had done this to him several times. He asked if I would write a letter to the owners on his behalf.

I was shocked initially, then later, I began to feel used on all ends of the spectrum. As a regular and a bill-paying customer, I was offended that anyone would even think that I could walk out on my bill. But more than that, I got the distinct impression that I was nothing more than a pawn in the restaurant owner’s attempt to squeeze her employees out of some of their hard earned paycheck. More, I realized if this was really happening, the wait staff were not getting the (rather generous) tips I left for them at the register.

As a foodie, I love this place. It has some of the best food in town. But I’m wondering if I have a social responsibility here. If the owners are doing as the worker says, they probably know they have him in a corner. There is a chance he is an undocumented worker, though I have no proof of this. If he is, this job is probably his only source of income, and he doesn’t have many other career options. At the very least, it’s likely he’s sending money overseas to take care of family.

Should I write the letter? Should I confront the restaurant owner? Should I pay the waiter for the money he’s lost? Or should I turn away from one of my favorite foodie finds and never return?

RBGs, what would you do?

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
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Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at rollerbaggoddess.blogspot.com.
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4 thoughts on “A Foodie’s Dilemma

  1. How do you know you can trust the waiter? Perhaps he's the one who's trying to pull one over on you. What do your instincts tell you about the owner?If the waiter's claim is true, then I'd say more than a letter is in order, but that is his responsibility. Shame on him for bad mouthing his employer like that. Even if what he alleges is true, he shouldn't be putting customers in a pickle like this.

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  2. That is a strange story. No Doubt. However, I think paying the waiter the 13 dollars might be the best. Seems like a scam on someones part. And then walk away. Why insert yourself into such a weird situation. If you do intervene you will always arrive at the eatery as the woman who intervened. Also it is the waiters job to look out for himself, unless he is unable. What kind of person are we talking about ?Isaac

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  3. Interesting! I tend to believe people until they give me a reason not to believe them (isn't that the best police?). Therefore, I believe the waiter. He was not asking you to repay, but simply write a letter. How is writing a letter a scam? I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't do something. For me, that would most likely be approaching the owner with your new found knowledge. For fear of getting the waiter in trouble, I would mention that you heard some guests were accused of not paying and wait staff being docked because of it. Chances are this waiter is not the only staff member this has happened to. I would also let her know as a regular, paying customer, you do not approve of such behavior and if you hear of it happening again you would no longer visit her establishment (and possibly notify the BBB or other organizations that protect employees and customers). I understand you enjoy the place and food, but can you go through life giving your money to an owner who treats others this way? I don't think I could.~Toni

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