I got stiffed on Monday night by a group of four people. I had two couples who were both together, come in on Monday night. None of them spoke a word of English. Luckily my food runner was able to translate so I could figure out how I could help them and what they wanted to be served at the bar. For the most part, they were pretty painless, except for the one lady who spilled her beer on the bar. They were all drinking Coronas. Easy enough.
They seemed to really appreciate my hard work. They were watching me break a sweat behind the bar, helping both the servers and the other people who sat at my bar. Anytime they were ready for their next round, I was refilling their glasses. They told my food runner that in their country, women don't work as hard as me. The men do all the work. The group even asked me to sit down at one point. Hahahahaha! Sit down during a bartending shift? Totally impossible!
When the group settled up their tab and got up to leave, I noticed that they hadn't left a tip. I decided to give them a chance before freaking out. Their bill had been around $65 or so and they had been sitting at my bar, watching me for a good hour. I was confident that they were going to leave something. After all, they had even commented on and commended me for all of the hard work I had been doing.
In the end, I got stiffed by all four of them. Not a dollar. Nothing. I was so irritated.
It's hard to not take getting stiffed personal. I understand that in some countries, tipping is not a customary practice because the bartender actually makes a living wage. But here in San Francisco, bartenders don't make a living wage. We live off of our tips. So when we get stiffed, it feels like a personal insult.
I couldn't exactly run after the group and ask them where my tip was or why they didn't tip. That would have been unprofessional. I just had to shrugged it off and move my smile onto my next customer. In the end, the tipping usually all evens out. There are some people who don't tip and then there are people who over-tip.
It's just the nature of the beast. One of those things, as a bartender, you just have to learn to roll with and hope for the best.