I also used to work retail, but never anything based on tips. I don't have a nickname, but you can call me Estella, because I love Great Expectations. I have a short story and a question.
My husband, our young son, and I ate at one of our favorite places this past weekend. It's a sit-down place with wait staff, but pretty casual and inexpensive. Our waitress was great, although she seemed a little stressed/annoyed, and I had no issues with her at all.
When the time came to pay, I took the bill up to the register like you do there, and intended to leave a tip on my debit card. I usually try to leave cash, but we'd all recently been sick, and in the chaos, forgot to go to the ATM. The man at the register had also previously come to our table to ask how everything was, and I thought he was a manager, although maybe a new one, since we eat there a lot and know most of the staff at least by sight, and they usually know us, and I had never seen him before.
Anyway, the bill was about twenty dollars, and my foggy brain was trying to figure out the tip. I always tip, and try to leave at least twenty percent, which I thought was the right amount, so I put four dollars. Lately I've been wondering though, so as I was filling it out, I said "I don't even know what's a good tip anymore. Is twenty percent ok?"
He looked at the bill without looking at me and shrugged, then said "Kinda. It'll buy a gallon of gas, I guess."
His tone made it plain what he thought of it, and he frowned the entire time. I had been ready to change it to something higher on his advice, but he didn't say anything else and just handed me my receipt. I felt terrible and I still do. I'm not above tipping more, and I gladly would, but the way this guy acted with me just hit me hard.
Was/am I just being stupid? Should I not eat out unless I can tip at least eight to ten dollars, regardless of how much the bill is? I really don't want to be an asshole out of ignorance. Thanks, guys.