It does get tiresome, does it not? And yet here we are. A waitress in suburban Philadelphia says a customer declined to tip because she politely asked him to wear a mask when he wasn’t seated — as mandated by the state of Pennsylvania.
The restaurant, John Henry’s Pub of Ardmore, posted a picture of the $23.50 bill on Facebook. On the tip line, in lieu of numbers corresponding to U.S, currency, the word “MASK” was scrawled in all caps. “When your staff politely asks a customer to wear a mask until seated, this is how they are disrespected,” the restaurant wrote. “Totally unacceptable. ‘YOU’ should be ashamed of yourself!!” The post quickly “went viral,” as we used to say in pre-pandemic times.
“When I said, ‘Can you please put your mask on if you’re walking through the bar,’ they brushed it off their shoulder and said, ‘Well, you know it’s no big deal. We’re going to sit down anyway,’” the waitress, Jamie Ledwith, told NBC Philadelphia, stressing that it’s not about the money, but rather the sentiment — the idea that making a small concession for the safety of workers and fellow diners is too inconvenient or oppressive to bother with.
“Right now, it’s hard for us,” she told the station. “I don’t want to tell you what to do. I really don’t want to tell any other adult what to do.” But the restaurant has rules, and the state has rules, and, like so many other people with customer-facing jobs across the country, it has become her burden to enforce them in the interest of public safety.
Confrontations between restaurant staff and belligerently maskless customers are common enough. The Counter points out, that the CDC offers guidelines about how to handle them: The agency “encourages employees to ask guests to follow protocols but not to argue with someone who gets angry or threatens violence. At that point, the CDC advises that they find a supervisor or call 911.”
Obviously nobody should argue with a worker who just wants them to wear a mask, because it is a) fundamentally deranged behavior and b) you shouldn’t need someone else to tell you to wear a mask. This story is, however, a handy reminder to generously tip your servers — this is what they deal with on a daily basis — and also advocate for the kinds of coherent public health policies that might have avoided this cascade of nightmares in the first place.