Deep down in the hottest levels of Hell, there's a special place reserved for fellow or former servers who don't tip well. Before I begin, let me clarify two points:
1) This is assuming the former/fellow server receives service that merits a good tip.
2) By "tip well," I mean at least 20%; more if the server receives any sort of hook-up or freebie.
Enter Mitch, a deceptively nice California dude bro with obnoxiously good hair, and his lovely girlfriend. Relaxed, warm, and polite, once he told me he was a fellow server, I knew this experience would be a cake walk.
"Where do you work?" I asked.
"This new place in Santa Monica," he replied, quickly changing the subject to, "I need to forget that place and start my day off. Let's do a bottle of rosé!"
I presented the rosé, which was impressively consumed to completion within 10 minutes, all before ordering entrees. Once Mitch and his girlfriend decided on food, he asked if there was a server discount or "friends and family" freebie that I might be able to apply to their tab. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," he said a little too eagerly. While the bluntness of the request perturbed me mildly, I was happy to return to the table with four shots of tequila - two for them to share, two for me to share.
The food arrived, and the two of them devoured their dinners. Drunk Mitch became a little too friendly, not so much in homoerotic undertone, but in the spectacle of displaying his questionably genuine warmth.
"Hey brother," he said with a hand reached awkwardly to my shoulder, "I know I ate those amazing mashed potatoes in record time, but I still think the portion was a little small. Do you think you could hook it up with some extra, no charge?"
With that, my face went from Punky Brewster to Bette Davis. Without a word, I went back to the kitchen and piled a heaping amount of mashed potatoes onto a side plate, then strolled back out and set them on the table.
"Wow, brother, that's a lot of pota...." Mitch said while I was still strolling. I ignored them as long as I could, until Mitch flagged me down. All of the plates were stacked neatly in a pile, the table free of crumbs. I could tell Mitch wanted me to give him a gold star.
"We made sure to not make a mess," he said beaming like a puppy that knew not to shit indoors.
"Thank you!!!!!" I said. "Would you two care for dessert?"
"I think we're pretty full," Mitch told me. "Unless there's another free drink back there somewhere?"
I smiled. "Of course there is!" I returned two seconds later with two large waters.
Mitch laughed, then asked once again about getting something for free.
"Sorry," I said vaguely. Mitch said "No need to apologize, brother!", as if I'd been remotely genuine.
"We really appreciate everything," he said while placing his credit card on the bill. "Really awesome service, and the food was amazing. Thanks for the shots, too. What's your name? We'll request your section next time!!!"
Shortly thereafter, they left. I rushed over to check my tip. 12 percent, written above an all-caps "THANK YOU!!!!"
I don't know if Mitch actually works in the service industry, or if he just said that assuming it would afford him some freebies. But I promise you, if he is a server in Santa Monica, I will find him. I will sit in his section for hours. I will need my water refilled at a breakneck pace. I will demand no end of free this and free that. I will send everything back. I will tip for shit. All with a smile. And long after I've promised that, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."