Most restaurant servers generally expect to receive the standard 15 to 18 percent tip. But what would happen if they received a really big tip, like $200, on a $30 tab? That's what Andrew Hales, who owns the YouTube channel LAHWF (Losing All Hope Was Freedom) -- set out to find out.
Hales -- whose videos are typically part prank, part social experiment -- got some big reactions when the servers at a few Orem, Utah diners received the great gratuities. But he and his crew also got responses they never could have expected.
More than once the crew made a big difference in someone's life that they couldn't have anticipated. After they laughed watching one ecstatic waitress jump up and down, the young woman ran out to give him a hug. "That's so awesome!" said a waiter. "You don't even know how badly I needed the money. You're really a god-send." The waiter mentioned that servers in Utah generally get only $2.13 an hour in salary. In another restaurant, other workers said of the waitress who received the $200: "She really needed it. She got hit by a car, like, three weeks ago" while on her bike. Co-workers had chipped in to buy her a new bicycle.
Many people working in the service industry rely heavily on the tips they receive, from a trifling median of 20 cents per hour for a swimming pool and spa technician to the median 63 percent of income that tips mean to a waiter or waitress. The latter goes along with a median hourly base pay of $4.20.
So wait staff can react strongly to exceptionally good or bad tips. There was the waitress who claimed to have received a $200,000 tip. (The credit card company wouldn't process the payment, though the waitress said that she was still grateful for the sentiment.) Recently, a waitress in a Red Lobster said that she received a racial epithet instead of a tip.
There are waiters and waitresses who have been fired for complaining about bad tippers. Some people like New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells argue that the practice is irrational, outdated, and ineffective.
Tipping after the fact doesn't necessarily help ensure good service. But for now, waiters and waitresses depend on tips that often make the difference between squeezing by and falling to the wayside.
The video is a good reminder that many people live on a perilous edge in this world. Maybe it's a stranger next to you. Maybe it's a friend or family member too proud to mention their problems. There are times we all need help.
As Facebook user Luke Larson said on the Facebook LAHWF page, "The pranks are funny, but every once in a while you have to make a video to show your inner self when your <sic> not being a comedian."
Hales' outrageous videos are a form of performance art that have turned into a living, as the blog Makers Limited reports. He and his associates put people into unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable situations, like spoiling movie endings for people entering a theatre or asking strangers to kiss them. Some may seem to be bro-produced videos, but there's thought behind them.
In this case, though, Hales wasn't getting embarrassment or uncomfortable giggles. In a blog post about the video, Hale talked about his new attitude toward work and life:
True happiness lies in continually working at something meaningful to you with the people you love.
There, I just thought of that.
Sounds like he got even more out of doing that video than the servers did.
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