An article by someone who works in the restaurant business points out that rich people seem to have no qualms about taking stuff from restaurants.
Depending upon the sporting season, people especially enjoy stealing empty pint glasses with Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins’ logos, dirty silverware, cloth napkins (I recently waited on a table of refined women from which all four napkins disappeared. I hope the subtle forest green linen matches the trim on the coffee cups and saucers on the snootiest lady’s bridge table at the weekly game), wicker bread baskets and the little individually wrapped butter patties, massive handfuls of mints on the way out, the bowl the mints were displayed in, votive candles in the glass holders from the Dollar Store, fancy soap in the restroom, framed art off the walls, knickknacks placed on shelves, and literally anything that isn’t nailed down.
She adds, “Revoltingly, I’ve seen people take forgotten leftovers belonging to complete strangers boldly off a table that had yet to be cleared.”
Why do some well-to-do people behave in such ways? Mind you, these are not poor people stealing out of need. They are just either extraordinarily cheap or weird. I doubt that they walk off with small items when they eat at a friend’s home.
It may be that they think that they are paying too much for their meal, that they are being ripped off somehow, and thus feel entitled to even the score.
Of course the food in restaurants costs a lot more than the sum of its ingredients and the labor involved in making it. You are also paying for all that goes into creating the ambiance that goes into making rich people feel that they are being pampered. That takes a bit of money too.
In my opinion, the worst people are those who stiff the wait staff.
Everyone in the business has a story about the guy who graciously threw down a stack of bills after a great meal, only to have half of them picked up by his wife or girlfriend when he goes to the bathroom. I’ve seen secretaries scratch out, lower, and falsely initial credit card tips, and have overheard people say, “Oh, don’t leave that much, they make a fortune.” This kind of theft isn’t for material gain or simple sport, it’s just mean spirited and petty.
Not only should one always tip the wait staff appropriately, one should also treat courteously all those in the hospitality business who are required to be nice to strangers as part of their job. Because of their powerlessness, they often have to put up with utterly obnoxious people who take advantage of the fact that they can’t respond in kind. Treating them well is the least one can do.
Humorist Dave Barry once gave this useful piece of advice: Beware of people who are nice to you but rude to the wait staff. They are not nice people.