Let’s talk about one of the shittiest things known to servers, the dine and dash. A dine and dash is when the lowest form of pond scum comes into a restaurant, orders a shit ton of food and then leaves without paying. It’s stealing. No two ways about it, it is stealing and too many times the server is the one who has to pay the price, quite literally. In many circumstances, a restaurant will make the server cough up the cost of the check because god forbid the restaurant takes any responsibility for the profit and loss of running a business. Earlier this week, a waitress in New York City was the victim of a dine and dash and when her boss told her that she would need to cover the $96 check, she pulled a Norma Rae on his ass, climbed up on a soap box and decided to fight the good fight. According to Gothamist, Suzanne Parratt, was fired from New York City’s Pig N Whistle on Tuesday night when three guests left without paying. Well, I spoke with Suzanne Parratt and got the story straight from her because I wanted to know what went down.
Suzanne has been in the business for 17 years doing everything from waiting tables to expediting food to managing fine dining. She knows the ropes and she also knows that it is illegal to make a server pay for a walked check. She has since obtained legal counsel, so she is unable to go into a lot of details, but she still had plenty of words for me.
She tells me that the Pig N Whistle is a pooled house so she was helping to take care of a co-worker’s table while he was on a break. She was no further than six or seven feet away and “within earshot” of the assholes’ table when all of a sudden they were gone. Their check had not even been printed yet. She knew that it was going to be an issue and when she asked her boss what they were going to do about the check he told her, ‘If that check is not covered, this will be your last night in the building.” It was her last night in the building. When she told him, “I am not paying this, it is not my responsibility,” she was fired.
“We (servers) are hard working people but we’re exploited. We are intimidated. That money would have come out of my budget for groceries or a Metro Card,” she told me. Suzanne posted her issue on Reddit the night she was fired and the next thing she knew Gothamist was calling to hear her story.
In addition to having a lawyer, Suzanne has contacted the Division of Labor Services in New York City where she has filed a complaint. She assures me she is not doing this for the money and she most certainly does not want her old job back. She is doing it because she is tired of seeing hardworking servers being taken advantage of. She wants other severs to know that it is illegal to be fired for this. Of course, we all know how that goes:
“Oh, we’re not firing you because that table walked out on their check, we’re firing you because you broke a coffee cup three weeks ago. Ummm, yeah, that’s the reason, uh huh.”
We have all had to deal with a walkout. Sometimes you have an understanding manager who will void the check because he knows that some people suck. But how many of us have reached into our aprons and paid for the walkout? I’ve done it. We all have because it’s easier to pay it then get fired and spend the next three weeks trying to find another job. It’s not fair and we should not fucking take it anymore. If I had to pay for a $96 check, that might be more than I would have made that night to begin with. And we all know that if a customer complained enough about a phantom hair in the food or that they didn’t like their steak, the manager would just void off $96 without even thinking about it, but when it comes to a walk-out, it’s suddenly our responsibility?
We have to share this article. We have to let restaurant managers and owners know that we know it is not legal for them to make us pay when some slimy piece of shit walks out on their check when we are busy running food, making coffee, boxing up leftovers, taking orders, seating customers, answering the phone, rolling silverware, setting tables and whatever else the fuck we are doing when we are at work. We are not fucking babysitters and we should not have to assume that every table is going to leave without paying and hover six inches away from every customer.
“I will not be on the streets,” Suzanne assures me. She will find another job and I know she will find one that will treat her with the respect and dignity that all servers deserve. She already has some leads and will be back in her apron in no time.
If you are being taken advantage of at your workplace, contact your local Division of Labor Services. They will help you. We cannot let this bullshit continue. When a customer walks out on their check it is the restaurant’s responsibility to cover that check, not the server. Fuck that. And fuck the Pig N Whistle too.