Waitress Fired For Being Racially Insensitive? You Tell Me.

Deservedly so?
Deservedly so?

A waitress in St. Louis was fired this week after she did something that was so incredibly offensive that it’s a wonder the ground didn’t open up and swallow her heathen soul the second she did it. She had a table in her section at Patrick’s Westport Grill (Facebook page) that was sat with two people, a man and a woman who happened to be black. When labeling the check so that the waitress would remember who the check belonged to, she looked at the black couple and labeled them as “black couple.” Well, that did not go over so well with the couple who were black who then called the media to get their story out there. The offended customer is named Kimberli Wilson and she says, “Basically my point is people need to know what’s going on at a place where they’re spending their money.”

FOX 13 News

Here are my two questions for Kimberli: what’s going on at Patrick’s Westport Grill that is so shocking and did you not know you were black?

Granted, the waitress could have typed in “African American” and saved herself the drama, as well as her job, but I really doubt that she had any intent to offend the customers. Kimberli says she felt “totally, totally humiliated. I was frustrated, I was angry. I was thinking, really? Are we still doing this in 2015?”

I get why she was upset: because if it had been a white couple sitting at the table, it’s very unlikely they would have been described as a “white couple” unless they were the only white couple in the restaurant and if there was a couple sitting there who was labeled as being white, they would not get upset about it. However, this couple, who was black, was labeled as such and now someone is offended. To me, it seems like a very small mistake and not one worth losing a job over. The owner of the restaurant has apologized for the matter and is giving his entire staff, both FOH and BOH, training for such sensitive issues. Well for everyone except the poor waitress who was fired for doing something she probably had no idea was going to be a problem. It seems to me that Kimberli is making a mountain out of a mole hill but, I grew up with white privilege and it is quite possibly something I don’t understand. Honestly, I would like someone to explain to me if this woman made too much out of something or his her disappointment justified. I am not ignoring the fact that she was upset, I just wish it didn’t end with a waitress losing her job.

In the meantime, I would like to suggest to the waitress who was fired to learn your fucking table numbers at your next job, girl! That’s what they are there for. If you can’t learn them, then I want to offer some other ways you could have labeled this table so that you would know exactly who the check belonged to:

  • People at front
  • Table by front door
  • Man with coral shirt
  • Couple who may or may not go to the tanning bed a lot
  • Couple with skin color that is not green
  • Lady with big huge glasses
  • Lady with short hair and dangly gaudy earrings
  • Lady with an on fleek eyebrow game
  • Lady who misspells Kimberly
  • Lady with four moles on her left collarbone area that if you connect them would create the Liberty Bell

You see? there were plenty of other options!

Bottom line, it appears that the waitress could have been more sensitive, the customer could have been less sensitive, the boss overreacted when he fired her and if people just used goddamn table numbers none of this would have happened.

I wait tables and bitch about it on my blog, The Bitchy Waiter.

45 thoughts on “Waitress Fired For Being Racially Insensitive? You Tell Me.

  1. Why did the tables not have assigned numbers? I worked in the food and beverage business for over 40 years, FOH, BOH and owned a small café, that had 6 booths, 2 small tables and a counter that sat 8. All were numbered. Even in bars that served food, they were either numbered or had a great server, such as myself, did not need numbered tables. What kind of place has servers working, that they have to describe the people sitting at them to know where the food goes. I think ownership, should decide to check out a new business instead of the food and beverage type places. He certantly doesn’t know how to run one. The situation should have been handled better amd the server should not have been fired, for his lack of knowledge running a restaurant.

  2. As the manager of a brewpub & bistro, I do believe in (and EXPECT) learning your table numbers, and my staff does know them; however, they still on occasion put another identifier on their checks. I do not see anything wrong with putting down “black couple”. They ARE a black couple. Is Kimberli offended that she’s black?? Had the server put down “Cheap black couple” or “Two N*gers” – now THAT would be highly offensive and that couple would have been justified in their feelings. In those examples either an assumption has been made about their character or a blatantly racist condition exists. And as for the server being fired – no way unless her employment was already in jeopardy for other reasons.

    And I just can’t let this go by – I was a bartender for many, many years, and damn good at it. Yes, I made good money and I worked wicked hard for it. Even so, I worked a full time and a part time job for 20 years so that I could stay OFF of welfare and NOT collect food stamps. The harder I worked the better money I made, so you can bet I busted my ass. Gilbey’s comments are just vicious and uncalled for and now I’M the one who’s offended. I’ll simply chalk them up to someone who is sadly out of touch and tragically bitter and go about my day. And Gilbey – should you elect to reply – I will not dignify you with an answer as I refuse to have a battle of wits with anyone so obviously unarmed.

  3. The boss was totally out of line firing the employee for the notation to help her remember the couple she was serving. But, I am seeing a bigger issue here. The comment thread that follows is filled with hatred, vulgarities, slang expletives and the line which tell me that there is a serious attitude problem with those making the comments. If they are customers, I would not want to serve them. If they are members of the wait staff, I would not want them serving me. Constructive comments help. Destructive comments harm. You let me know who you are by what you do.

  4. Hey Bitchy, I’m just curious if you’d be so blasé if it were you & the check was labeled “gay couple”? I personally think that people are too oversensitive at times, but still… Use table numbers for everyone or racial/sexist etc stereotypes for all.

  5. Gilbey, Gilbey. Gilbey,

    I see I have offended you! I bet I hit it pretty close to home, didn’t I?

    Who are YOU to determine that “$20/hour” is “sufficient” for someone to make? Are you in charge of something I am unaware of? Just so you know, I DO live in a beautiful, well maintained MOBILE HOME. (“Trailers” are that which are dragged behind a vehicle.) I have 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a massive kitchen and central air in a 1300 sq. ft. home. I don’t do ANY drugs, have 1 child and bring home no one. Ever. I don’t date. I enjoy my peaceful, serene life, claim my tips correctly and have a decent, low-key way of existence. And if I follow your math and DID make $40/hour—do you think I would live in a mobile home? Your mathematics would have me making $83,200 a year. I could have a HOUSE. My car wouldn’t be 11 years old. I would have health care that I could EASILY afford.

    So you see, Gilbey, your poorly spelled, awkwardly phrased diatribe on me and the qualities you THINK I have is a waste of your ($9/hr.) time.

    Good luck to you.

    1. I’m a better judge of character than you, Linda. You admit you live in a trailer park and your baby daddy is not in the picture. Watch out for that tornado.

      1. Gilbey,

        I see you WILL carry on about your imaginary description and suppositions of me.

        Again, I do not live in a “trailer”, thus I do not live in a “trailer park”. My “baby daddy” is a drunken, mean asshole that I divorced after 2 1/2 years to save my life and that of my child.

        A tornado is very rare in the state I live in. Soooo…..

        This is not the forum, time or place (or even topic) that these comments are supposed to be about. Out of respect for BW, I’m done with you. (But I’ll just BET you’ll say one more thing so you can have the last word.)

        Dear BW–So sorry for all this!

        Linda

  6. I am actually surprised at the number of servers, here and elsewhere where this story has been discussed, who don’t see why this would be a problem. The thinking I have seen is that it was merely a way to physically identify the patrons, not meant to be offensive, that if someone called me “white girl” when I was the only white girl in the room, I wouldn’t be offended, etc. and that may very well have been the server’s line of thinking when labeling the check, most likely she did not intend for it to be offensive. The issue is not that referring to someone as “black” is offensive in and of itself, it is that it is seen as a calling out or labeling based solely on race, which many black and otherwise non-white people deal with on a daily basis: seen as their skin color first, everything else second. It’s not that being seen or referred to as “black” is negative, it’s that being immediately labeled on race is a form of singling out. No ticket should be labeled by race or any other physical attribute, whether the server deems it negative or not. Table/seat numbers are the best choice, but if you need to use physical descriptors, use “blue shirt,” “Red Sox hat,” etc.

    That being said, should the server in question have been fired? I don’t know because I don’t know what her personal motivations were, if she truly didn’t realize why that labeling could have come off offensively then no, she shouldn’t have been fired, but should have received some sort of action like a write up and a real, honest explanation of why that was not okay. If she did so with racist intentions, then yes, she should have been fired.

    1. DING DING DING. This post here wins and everything anyone else wrote here is completely retarded. “Random Server” wins with the most intelligent argument currently. Everyone else sucks on dong.

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  8. Any other time she would have gladly told you how proud she was to be black. It’s simply a description. At least she didn’t call her the fat, black lady with glasses. It could always be worse!

  9. I have been a waitress for many years. I know what prints on my tickets and what doesn’t. when I label my comps for my manager to see sometimes I like to take artistic liberty with what I choose to title them. For instance, “Assholes,” or “Idiot Twats.” Would the assholes and idiot twats I serve ever seen this? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Am I stupid? no. Am I disgruntled, yes, but only behind the scenes. Being a good waitress and being aware of “small” things like this is a BIG part of the job description. I think that the reaction was appropriate; that was just a silly, rookie mistake- but that’s life; Sometimes mistakes cost your your job, not to mention as you stated she could have labeled them based on ANYTHING else. Hopefully, lesson learned and the cloud of incompetence and or ignorance has been lifted from her unemployed head.
    To that waitress: You will get another job, keep your head up, and your racial descriptions locked up inside it. Good luck. One love.

  10. The woman was describing a physical attribute of the people so as to make sure they got everything they requested. Black is not just a race, it is a physical attribute. Unless being black humiliates this woman she should not have taken it this far. I could be described as white, red head, woman, wears glasses, and I have no problem. If they say bitch, asshole or idiot-I have a problem.

  11. Sometimes they all look alike and a label is helpful. Why is a $5 tip a complete joke? Do you blow so hard that you wait only one table an hour? More like >4x$5+$2.13 Tell me again why you think you’re entitled to make more than $20 an hour for waiting tables, a job anyone can get that walks in off the street? Again NYC is not the norm for this debate. Rent on a 3 bedroom house is $5-600 in most of this country, and yes, most anywhere will hire any inexperienced person to wait tables, maybe not fancy pants reputable NYC establishments that make you work your way up or demand references. Bitchy is completely out of this argument, god knows what his rent is or how his shit works in NYC, but it’s not normal for middle America. $12 an hour is an impressive wage for a man with a family to make in most of America. Why should I feel sorry for you if you make double that and still fucking complain? I don’t. I’m all for raising the minimum wage for everyone in the country to $15, and eliminating tips. I’m not out to keep anyone down, but waiting tables is not a job that demands double, triple, quadruple the pay other unskilled laborers get.

    1. I live in Iowa, and you can’t find a decent two bedroom apartment for $5-600 a month anywhere near me. They are $750 on the low end, let alone a house for rent. Dream on. Yes, NYC cost of living is much higher than many areas of the country, but your calculations are not accurate either.

    2. Hey Asshole, have you ever waited tables? Obviously not. Sorry but not just anyone can “walk in off the street and do the job”. Fuck you! It takes a great deal of organization, thinking on your feet, and handling many situations at one time. Servers make $20 plus an hour because they work for it. They make minimum wage!! Does that compute fucknut! If the restaurant is dead, they don’t make money. If people are shitty tippers, they don’t make money. In many states tips are taxed against the wage which means sometimes you don’t even get a paycheck.
      Now, shut the fuck up and let the adults talk! Dickhead.

      1. AMEN!!!!! If you’ve never waited tables you have no idea how much we do and how we cater to you more than anything, especially if you’ve been in the business a while, if someone is a shitty server yes they get a shitth tip but not all servers are that way and id love to see someone who’s never been in the service industry to come in and have a full section to work. We have our days weeks or months wherever you may work that we are slow as hell and don’t make any money and 2.13 covers taxes/…..so mister guy up there not to this reply but to the main one maybe you shouldn’t be reading this because you obviously don’t understand what being a server is like!!

      2. Hey fuckhead, I’m sorry I didn’t realize you went to waiter school for 4 years. Do you think I’m stupid and have never been out to eat where they are training a waitress that walked right in off the street? You think I never had a friend or family member that waited tables? You think I never worked with food? They give them like three days of training and then turn them loose to fuck up your order and forget your refills. Some are better than others, but that’s like saying “I’m an experienced cashier” or “I’m an experienced car washer.” You didn’t go to school for that shit, and you get into the occupation by walking in off the street. IF the restaurant is dead, they sit on their dead asses and get a guaranteed minimum wage for doing jack shit! Doing a little sidework and “acting” busy to appease the boss is not a hardship. Hide in the bathrooms, act busy, hide in the stockroom, talking to people they know that come in, they should be put on a non-stop 100 degree assembly line for $9 an hour and no bennies if they think they’ve got it tough and want to complain about their tips.

        1. Go away. Your whole argument is shit because you haven’t even grasped that servers overwhelmingly DON’T make minimum wage. My gardener could also learn his craft in three days but I don’t pay him minimum wage because he is doing hard physical labor and deserves more for that reason alone. I pay him between $25 and $50 an hour because he is reliable and does a good job. Servers are valuable if they are charismatic, reliable, energetic and skilled at multi-tasking. They gain trust and respect of their coworkers and managers by showing integrity, hustle and a sense of humor. If you don’t have any game, you ain’t going to make it as a server. Your crap personality wouldn’t make it a day in a good dining establishment. Go choke on it asshole.

          1. So…which is it? Wait staff makes below minimum wage, so when I leave $2-5 no matter the size of the bill, I’m tipping you what everyone else in America is tipping. But, you want to say I’m an asshole for what must be the norm if we’re all tipping shit. I don’t think I’m going to tip over 10% for your usual efforts just because you want to make 3-5 times more than every other uneducated worker in town. In fact, if I don’t intend to come back, I’ll just leave you the change our of a dollar or nothing.

        2. Gilbey? How about you just stop, ok? You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. If you think for one minute that we servers “hide” or “sit on our ass” when it’s slow, you are sadly mistaken. You evidently have never been a server yourself. I’ll bet you’re the one making the “$9/hour with no bennies”. Servers don’t get “bennies” either. I can tell you right now that you are someone I would not want in my section. I would know by just LOOKING at your dentally (yes, dentally) challenged self, with the too-long hair, the attitude, the wallet chained to your belt loop, your prison tats and cigarette-and-beer breath that you are a cheap-ass. You are simply envious of servers which you somehow think are getting rich by doing the afore-mentioned “unskilled labor”. If you are such a valuable asset to the American workforce, you should just “walk in off the street” and do the job we do!! Good luck with that, by the way. I’m gonna come sit in YOUR section. I’ll have a GOOD ole time, running you around for 90 minutes and then leave you a $2 tip on a $30 bill. Let’s see how YOU like it. Oh? And NO ONE says “colored” any more. Do try to catch up with the rest of us.

          1. I am not envious of servers. But I sure as shit will not enable them to make $40 an hour when $20 will suffice. You’re probably so stupid that you work off the clock and don’t complain when your employer fails to make up the difference between $2.13 and minimum wage. $30 bill, no problem of the server’s making, and I’d leave $4-5. CASH so you can lie about it and not pay your taxes, so you can still claim your food stamps and WIC. That’s a 16% tip…anything less than 25% and you people think customers are evil…even when they didn’t ask you for anything more than what they ordered off the menu and a refill or two.
            I wouldn’t want you in my town, Linda, hell not even my state. I can see that you live in a trailer and have three kids, three different daddies, none of them in the picture. You work 4-5 days a week at the diner and clear $500 each week, you lie about all your cash tips and claim you barely make $7.25 when it is all said and done. Just enough so the owner doesn’t have to pay you more, but not too much so you can still get your food stamps. The lot rent on your trailer is always late…mainly because you go home with the last man of the night to screw your brains out because you hate your job and blame all the customers but it’s really yourself that you hate, for buying more meth, for getting drunk and sleeping your days off away instead of spending them with your kids. You probably got your mom fooled too, thinking your working longer shifts but you’re really just holed up with whatever man came in with a boner and was desperate enough to take you home. You’ll have a free babysitter for awhile, until one of her friends mentions that she didn’t see you at the diner when you lied about being there.
            Then you think every night that this man might be the one, but when he drops you off, he never even comes back to your little diner because he saw all the kids toys strewn over your unkempt trailer and he wants nothing to do with that, or you after he used you. And week after week, you repeat your sad little cycle.

          2. I’m so glad I came here! As a black person who usually tips minimum 25 – 50% of check which I consider more than fair, I’ll now go down to 15%, since I know that’s what you’re expecting.

        3. The comments by Gilbey and replies to them have taken us far afield from the issue as posted. Clearly Gilbey has an axe to grind. Gilbey deeply despises restaurant servers; perhaps a server killed his/her kitten when he/she was five, or rejected his/her invitation to the prom.
          The waitress showed incompetence and obliviousness.
          It was reasonable for the customer to bring her concern to management.
          The manager possibly overreacted by firing her, but not knowing the specifics, one can’t say. If she was new to the place, inexperienced, and put on the floor too soon, then it’s a management issue and more training is in order; a server should not be unleashed on the unsuspecting customer without at least knowing the damn table numbers (not to mention just basic etiquette). If she had been there for some time, then perhaps a different line of work would be a better fit for her.

        4. Hey, Rip-Van-Winkle, average hourly wage for GM assembly line workers is $23 with benefits. Also, can’t speak for elsewhere in the country, but in Dallas it would be difficult to get a three bedroom house for less than $1200/month. (Not that any of this speaks to the point of the B.W’s. post).

          1. You do know that a lot of factory workers are only temporary-to-hire, they make $10-12 an hour, new hires make about $15 (if they survive) and your beloved average is taken only taken by removing the temp workers and averaging the official employees that make the higher wages with the administrative and management, don’t you? $23 is not average, it’s high and representative of someone that has been on the line for a decade or more.

    3. I second that your calculations are not correct. I live in CT, where we are taxed out the ass. Our two-bedroom apartment costs over $1400, and it’s not that great. However, my fiancé and I each drive 45 minutes to work in opposite directions, so we need to be in this area unless we decided that one of us gets severely screwed on our commute. So, I bartend to cover my rent, and my “salary,” or what’s left of it, pays the other bills and goes into savings. It’s not unreasonable to expect over $20/hr here, because that’s what it takes to cover basic necessities.

      Do I know about other places? Sure. I have family in Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Maine, and Idaho, to name a few. The $5-600 tag you claimed applies to maybe 2 of those places. Regional differences, y’all, don’t make a judgment unless you’re sure it’s comparable.

    4. WOWWWWW!!!

      I personally found your comment so deplorable, that I had to sign up to write my first comment to you.
      Being I am NEW here, I am holding WAYYYY back. I will TRY to be as polite as possible in
      my reply to you though.

      What I find so FUNNY about your silly rant, is that I bet ANYTHING, I can do what YOU do for a living,
      BUT, there is NO WAY you could wait tables as well as I do.
      I bet that also stands for EVERYBODY else on this Blog, who has EVER waited tables.

      How can you show such utter disrespect for people who wait tables?
      ON a side note, I would not care if you crapped $100 Bills, I would NEVER want
      you in my section.

      By the way, I know plenty of waiters and bartenders who have college degrees. They work in food and drink service, because they enjoy it, like the hours and because they can make VERY GOOD money
      if they are GOOD at what they do.

      Do you know that even though servers are TIP’ed they do NOT keep all of what they earn in TIPS.
      They tip the buss-people, the bartender, the cooks/ chef, the hostess/ host… etc.. etc…
      ALSO, in many restaurants, they are taxed on at LEAST 7% of the total of their sales.
      So, NOT exactly TAX free money. Now that most people use credit cards, they are taxed on
      the total amount of their sales for the day/ night, the FULL amount they make in tips,

      What I can’t figure out is, WHY do you care how much a server makes per hour?
      Why not just focus on NOT being a miserable customer, and worry about what YOU tip your server?
      and stop worrying that they are making collectively.

      As for Cost of Living in MUCH of the county….
      Being that you THINK it is $5-600 for a HOUSE in most of the USA, clearly,
      you live in a small town, and don’t know diddly squat, about rents in various cities.

      As of May 2015, average apartment rent within 10 miles of Seattle, WA is $1853. One bedroom apartments in Seattle rent for $1501 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $2015.

      As of June, 2015, average apartment rent within 10 miles of Las Vegas, NV is $1135. One bedroom apartments in Las Vegas rent for $819 a month on average …

      As of June, 2015, average apartment rent within 10 miles of Sacramento, CA is $1131. One bedroom apartments in Sacramento rent for $939 a month on average.

      As of June, 2015, average apartment rent within 10 miles of Denver, CO is $1666. One bedroom apartments in Denver rent for $1351 a month on average

      PLEASE tell us again, just HOW CHEAP it is to rent around the USA, and how servers don’t need to make that much to make ends meet?

  12. I have been on both sides of this. Because I was a server my husband and I tip very well and have taught my whole family about why $2-5 is a complete joke..but I can see where she was upset because what exactly did she label the other customers in the restaurant probably nothing! It was a joke in my old place of business even if its not their turn if its black people give them to the black people on the floor. Though the hostesses never admitted it it happened because of the idea that they don’t tip well and every time they did that I got 50% of the check. Maybe your demeanor constitutes a bad tip ( some of us can read your attitude). I totally understand, because first she’s a customer and should have only been labeled as couple if anything. Yes definitely should have learned her table number also I get a sense of warning to her server for level of service she should get. Quite honestly, I think it could have been handled differently but there’s a message in everything.

  13. Since when is referring to a black person as black an insult? I can think of a dozen pejoratives, but that isn’t one of them.

  14. I can’t believe the waitress was fired over this, by observing the color of their skin! People need to stop throwing around the race card, all it does is make them look bad when it’s for something like this. I’m not a server and have learned a lot from reading this blog and others like it, most of the time I can completely see where the customer is coming from, not this time though. That woman, in my opinion, is out of line.

  15. Wow. I wouldn’t personally write that and It’s nothing to be humiliated about, but I’m sure it was just an excuse to get free food…

      1. Actually, this is a fact. I know several people in the service industry and they’ve all said the same thing. I decided to try an experiment one day. While I was bartending, 4 black guys came in and sat at the bar. I decided to go well above and beyond to see if I could get a tip out of them. I smiled, was very friendly (but not too friendly as to be weird), complimented the suit one was wearing and chatted a bit. I was very attentive and they waited for nothing. They were drinking rounds of top shelf cognac. I gave then every other round on the house saving them at least $50. I know I was playing with the bar’s money, but I had to know. Were black people not tipping because they consistently received poor service? Well, when all was said and done. Guess how much they tipped me? ZERO. Not. One. Cent. If there’s any black people out there who read this, can you please tell me why you don’t tip when you live in a society where tipping is the cultural norm? When you’ve gotten stellar service, free food or drink and the server has gone out of their way to make sure you had the best experience you could possibly have? Why do you not tip? I would love to know the reason behind this.

        1. Some black and Mexican guys and gals who worked in the circus tipped me today. They got good service, refills, plates taken away, and a brief fun political discussion in which we all agreed. (Which is the only reason I went in for it: I heard them voice an opinion I shared.) I think you had a good experiment there, with minorities possibly receiving poor service and therefore not tipping. But you only had one table. Hardly representative. Also, minorities tend to get paid less, meaning they may afford tipping less. Lots of factors to put into such an experiment, and I think that to solidify any opinions on the subject based on one table might be quite silly.

          1. Writing years later here, but in my experience Hispanic customers always tip, and often better than any other group (for lack of a better term). Maybe it’s a California /Arizona thing, since this is where my experience comes from.

    1. Well written….I am going to have all of our managers read this and share with our nearly 300 employees.
      The key know your table numbers wright nothing on your guest check except thank you or hope to see you again or nothing at all
      that is what it has come down to.Thanks for the fun,
      This is Jeff

  16. Should the waitress have let the blacks know that she ever, just once, in the course of interacting with them, that she acknowledged, in her head, that these customers were colored? Absolutely not. Anyone with any common sense would know they would seize upon the acknowledgment as an opportunity to play the race card. These days, when wait staff think it impresses us when they don’t have to use a pad to write down our order, why does this fool have to take an extra step back and write down personal info? Never heard of table or seat numbers? Both sides are foolish in this story. She should use abbreviations in the future because I doubt the customer would’ve caught on unless she spelled out what she was thinking.

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