At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

Sexists, Bad Tippers, and Jerks of the World Beware: the Internet Will Catch You

I’ve been bartending on Capitol Hill for two years. My customers, for the most part, are awesome. But Capitol Hill is a busy place on the weekend, attracting people from all over the Seattle area. Lots of us joke about the hipsters on the Hill, but the fact is, we (they) live here, and so if they want to continue sceneing it up on the weekend they know to display at least basic courtesy. Ask, pay, drink, tip, repeat!

I’ve got a lot of beef with the most recent social media vengeance story currently making the Internet rounds. On Friday night, according to Cha Cha/Bimbo’s waitress Victoria Liss, a customer ordered $28.98 worth of food and beverages, didn’t tip, and scrawled “you could stand to lose a few pounds,” on the bottom of the credit card receipt.

The offending receipt

Really?

First and foremost, my sympathy lies with Liss, a woman working to earn her keep at a busy and crowded Capitol Hill establishment who undoubtedly deals with a slew of moderately-to-severely annoying customers daily. Over the past two years, at my own bar, I’ve been stiffed, mocked, smirked at, and ignored—but her insult was extremely personal, and regardless the quality of her service to this couple, it was cruel and unwarranted.  Furthermore, it was a sexist slight, perpetrated by a man who lives in a society in which women are scrutinized in every aspect of their lives by how they look.

Which leads me to this point—and my fellow bartender AJ put it best—her social media tirade should not be seen as a lesson in how to tip properly, but a genuine call to reality that in the age of social media, you can and will be held accountable for your actions. Liss shared that image on her Facebook on Saturday and by Monday the national Gawker blog Jezebel was calling out Seattle’s own culture commenter Dan Savage to “enter the fray.” He did, along with at least a dozen other local and national blogs.

When Sarah Palin’s daughter Willow made homophobic remarks on Facebook, the world took notice. In August of this year, an accused rapist saw his bail increased by $200,000 when incriminating Facebook comments were discovered by the victim’s father and brought in as evidence. Even before the damning repercussions of offensive Facebook comments, Clay Shirkey wrote about a woman who retrieved her stolen T-Mobile Sidekick by utilizing early social media to track down the thieves. In short, if you have a social media presence at all, anywhere on the Internet, and you decide to be a jerk (or worse), your odds of being caught are increased. This is generally a good thing.

The Bimbo’s case brings up some ethical issues involving social media, however. Some of the comments on Dan Savage’s Slog post (SLOG is the blog of the Seattle weekly The Stranger) question whether this was a case of the bullied becoming the bully. Is using his credit card to search for his public profile a breach of privacy? And, frankly, with a name like Andrew Meyer, how many perfectly well-behaved Andrew Meyers out there are suffering from the severe ire of an enormous Internet and neighborhood community out for blood? Where do we draw the line between “community action” and mob mentality?

Regardless, we can all learn a lesson from this instance—treat your bartenders, servers, and fellow human beings with courtesy, kindness, and respect, both in person and online, and you will probably escape the wrath of the Internet. Except if your name is Andrew Meyer, in which case, on behalf of many happy bartenders, I apologize, unless you are the person who left that note, in which I say, for your own sake, keep off the Hill.

 

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This post is categorized in: Social Media

About Elizabeth Hunter

I love to write about things that make people say WHUT! And I can officially break news, scour the Twitter/Internet, and put out some coherent information in less than a day. Ask me, dudes.

11 Responses to Sexists, Bad Tippers, and Jerks of the World Beware: the Internet Will Catch You

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Whether or not the reaction was warranted in the situation, you raise a good point about social media. By putting ourselves and (pieces of) our lives online, we are more exposed in good and bad ways. It is easier than ever before for people to find me. Add to that the fact that the people can and most likely will hear about anything stupid I do or say. It’s more than a little scary.

    That’s not to say I don’t value the opportunities the internet also provides. And part of me is incredibly thankful that it is easier to call out people for wronging me or someone else. We just need to more carefully consider the consequences of our actions. Thanks for that reminder.

  2. Zanna says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    What a great post! I am not surprised with this story. I remembered when I used to work as a server when I was still brand new in the country. I met great people that applaud my efforts and were great. But I also met the jerks, (those I will never forget), that asked me to speak English, that left a similar tip (zero) with some sort of explanation. The worst was this 2 young women that on purpose left without paying. They were the only table in the whole restaurant and I was sure that one day I would see them again. After planning carefully my psychological vendetta, which by the way made me feel good and feed that anger, the day arrived. After about 3 years, there they were at the check out line of QFC Capitol Hill. I looked at them and really thought about coming up to them and say: hey, remember me? But I stared and them and at that point I finally let go. believing that there is something higher that will take care of people that treat others like that. Today, I feel good, I think I did the right thing. Don’t worry, those things come around, usually with dividends.

  3. Peter says:

    For starters we don’t have a complete picture here and maybe he received terrible service. That area is notorious for self righteous bar workers. Lets add to this that she totally slandered the wrong guy. Personally she should be fired and she will be lucky if she is not arrested or sued for harassment. I don’t know the exact circumstances and I suspect we never will. However somewhere else an innocent person is being inundated with hate mail over her public display in trying to shame this guy. How do you say sorry to that eh?

  4. I have to say that I also wonder if a lawsuit is on the way. It would seem extreme, but honestly, everything about this damn situation is extreme so it wouldn’t be surprising.
    And the lawsuit could actually stick. Strange things happen in a slow news week.

  5. Elizabeth Hunter says:

    The Internet has gone pretty silent on the topic. I’m thinking people may have realized the potential repercussions for their friend Victoria. Regarding a lawsuit, well, let’s ask Kraig Baker to weigh in on the subject–anyone taking his law course this quarter?

    Zanna, your comment made me really happy :) Peter, it’s not about self-righteousness on the Hill, it’s about self-preservation.

  6. Dave says:

    The only reason it caught on is because she’s friends with people at The Stranger and Seattle Weekly… which would make sense for a hipster working in Capitol Hill. Her explanation for why he left her the note seems kind of bizarre to me: “There are two things that led him to behave like that in my mind. He came in and I was, though I regret it now, very nice to him. Also, he ordered a taco and I recommended he get a double decker (he wasn’t drunk and I knew a taco wrapped in a bean taco would keep him undrunk). His lady friend called it “carb hell” so apparently it was a very offensive menu suggestion. He was dressed like “Boy” from Little Monsters with Fred Savage. I remember thinking when she put her gold Kate Spade purse on the bar, “I’m fucked.” …. Seems like she’s leaving something out of the story… or maybe every girl with a gold kate spade purse feels an unnecessary compulsion to scribble “lose some weight” on her boyfriend’s receipts. Clearly the real enemy here is Kate Spade.

  7. Paul says:

    Do you know this woman? Because from her interview in another article she certainly seemed like the kind of negative, self-centered person I wouldn’t hire at my establishment because their attitude simply causes unnecessary drama such as this.

    Without having heard anything at all from the other party, it’s entirely possible that she was rude and gave them poor service. In such a situation, I wouldn’t leave a tip either.

    As for the note, it certainly was rude of the customer to have left it, but this internet witch-hunt would have gotten her fired from my bar. To do anything like that to a customer is unacceptable, no matter how rude they were to you, and I sincerely hope she’s since been let go.

    On top of that, I really think you’re reading way too much into the ‘sexism’ thing. Regardless of gender, there is a point at which any person could ‘stand to lose a few pounds’, and she can’t see that point in her rear-view mirror. Does society unjustly force on young girls the notion that being skinny equates to being pretty? Absolutely. But to draw sexism into this argument when this woman clearly either has health issues or has just let herself go to a visibly unhealthy weight is just stupid. There’s no sexism here, you’re just trying to draw more hits to your story by implying it.

  8. Elizabeth Hunter says:

    @Paul, actually, thanks for reminding me. The perfect answer to this:

    …to draw sexism into this argument when this woman clearly either has health issues or has just let herself go to a visibly unhealthy weight is just stupid. There’s no sexism here, you’re just trying to draw more hits to your story by implying it.

    ..is this: “The Personal is Political.”

    Look it up! :)

    Okay, okay, fine. Here’s a little more to clarify.

    You said: “Does society unjustly force on young girls the notion that being skinny equates to being pretty? Absolutely.”

    Actually, society unjustly forces all women, not just young women, to be hyper aware of their looks. A woman’s body, no matter whether she is a server at a bar or the Secretary of State, is considered public property–everyone gets a say in what she should wear, how much she should weigh, her haircut, her shoes, her surgeries, her wrinkles, and so on. Women are judged for their looks all the time. At their places of work. Out on the town. At home. In stores. In job interviews. In hallways. All the time.

    This type of scrutiny is not proportional to men’s lives, and indicates an imbalance in society–an imbalance commonly referred to as sexism.

  9. Bizzy says:

    I am strongly reminded of a scene from Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.” A prisoner just released gets rude with the gal behind the check in counter at the airport for his flight home. It escalates until he is re-arrested and put back in jail. He tells his prison mate, Shadow, (our main character) that the lesson is “don’t piss off people who work in airports.” Shadow asks if it isn’t more like “The kind of behavior that works…in prison, can fail to work…when used outside such an environment?” To which the first prisoner replies, “No. Listen to me. I’m telling you, man. Don’t piss off those bitches in airports.” (p 15)

    This whole debacle revolves around a lack of common courtesy, but the rules apply across the board (thus, “common” courtesy). Not in anyway to diminish the slight to the bartender in question, and I won’t go into a discussion of punishment fitting crimes and what not. Just food for thought that this idea applies even to the poor folks who work for entities we don’t like so much. They have bills to pay too.

  10. Alex Stonehill says:

    Looks like this story got some national attention: http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2011/10/nbc_coddles_vengeful_bartender.php

    I’m not familiar with the ‘shaming the wrong person’ development.

  11. Paul says:

    “This type of scrutiny is not proportional to men’s lives, and indicates an imbalance in society–an imbalance commonly referred to as sexism.”

    I’m not arguing this fact. I agree with you 100% that this happens. That’s not my point at all.

    My point is that this person, from the pictures I’ve seen, is at a weight which poses a health risk regardless of gender. Whether she’s a woman, a man, neither, or both, the simple fact is that she could stand to lose a few pounds.

    To say that’s a sexist comment when you have absolutely no idea whether or not the guy would have thrown the same insult if it was aimed at a male is introducing an element to the story that is entirely conjecture.

    It doesn’t matter what the gender of the person is – if the statement is factual how can that be interpreted as sexist? If someone weighs 500lbs, they could stand to lose a few of them whether or not they have a vagina. I suppose my point is that I feel you’re assuming sexism where the statement could just as easily be interpreted as factual, and in so doing, crossing the line between what is fact and what is assumption.

    I’m not arguing that society seems to dictate that thin and pretty is important, and that this is unacceptable. I’m with you 100% on that. I’m arguing the fact that regardless of gender, this person is overweight to the point of it being a health concern, that the bad tipper’s statement, while terribly rude, was factual, and that were the target of the insult a male, the same thing may have been written, meaning that you’re inferring sexist connotations where there may be none.

    It’s not as if the guy wrote “society as a whole doesn’t find you attractive because you don’t conform to its warped super-model standards of beauty”. He said she could stand to lose a few pounds. And she could, regardless of gender.

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