About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog post about a rather famous woman who came into my section and then left without paying the check or leaving a tip. The blog post was called “Famous Person Dines and Dashes.” As with most of my blog posts, once I hit submit, I never gave it a second thought. That is, until someone named Anonymous commented on it:
I was horrified when I read this about my friend Elke. I’ve known her for many years and both Ben and Elke were and are very generous and big tippers. I asked Elke and she was invited to that show and therefore never thought that she owed anything. I think you should apologize to her and be informed before you slander someone else.
Well, anonymous, where to start? First off, I looked up the official definition of the word slander to make sure I have not committed any crimes. Merriam-Webster tells me that slander means “to make a false spoken statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone.” According to that very official definition, a slanderous statement must be a false one. My statement was not false. Your friend did actually sit in my section and then she left without paying the check or leaving a tip. I even asked her if she would like her check and she told me to leave it on the table. Secondly, my statement wasn’t spoken, it was written. If you want to hear my statement spoken out loud, you can click here, but it still doesn’t make it slanderous, because it’s a true. She owed money. She knew I was putting the check on the table. She left without paying. All. Fact.
You tell me that your friend was invited to the show and did not know she was expected to pay anything, yes? I wonder what part of “Ma’am, I have your check. Do you want it now or would you like me to leave it on the table?” implies that there is no check. Ignorance is not an excuse.
I learned this lesson when I went to court to fight a traffic ticket. I had rented a car for 24 hours and parked it in front of my apartment. I saw that there was a fire hydrant nearby and knew I could not park too close to it. I got out of the car to look for a sign to tell me how far away I needed to be from it and I looked at the curb to see if any part of it was painted yellow. There was some paint on the curb, so I parked the car beyond the paint. I still got the ticket. I went to court to fight the ticket and explained to the judge.
“Your honor, I don’t own a car. I only rented it for one day. I wasn’t sure how far away to park from the hydrant. There was no paint on the curb where I parked it so I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“Your car must be fifteen feet away from the hydrant, sir,” he told me.
“Your honor, I took pictures of the curb to show you that there was no paint telling me I couldn’t park there.”
“Fifteen feet, sir.”
“But I didn’t know that.”
“Ignorance is not an excuse to break the law.”
At that point he slammed his gavel down and I paid the sixty fucking dollars. I also learned a lesson: ignorance is not an excuse.
Since you tell me you have asked your friend about this situation and I now know that she knows she skipped out on a check, I suppose, then, that I can expect to get to work any day now and find an envelope with an apology card and nine dollars in it, yes? I look forward to that. As for an apology from me? I don’t think so. I don’t see the need. Perhaps my statement could cause a few people to have a bad opinion of your friend, but I let people come to their own conclusions about the integrity of someone who doesn’t pay their check or leave a tip.
Sorry, Elke Kravit.