Grateful Guest Leaves Waitress $10,000 Tip, Then Trouble Begins

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.22 - 2024 10:45 AM CET

Photo: Google Maps
Photo: Google Maps
Grateful Guest Leaves Waitress $10,000 Tip, Then Trouble Begins.

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It's the (secret) dream of everyone working in service: to one day receive a substantial tip that could, for example, buy a beautiful car. For an American waitress, this dream became a reality earlier this month when a guest at the restaurant left an envelope containing $10,000 (about €9,250).

It seemed like a classic feel-good story with only winners, until it took an unpleasant turn.

The story centers around Linsey Huff, a young, divorced mother who has been working as a waitress for years at a café in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

On Monday, February 5th - just starting her workweek - she served a middle-aged man coming from a funeral seeking some distraction. He shared his deep sadness and expressed a desire to do something special in memory of his deceased friend. He decided to leave Linsey a $10,000 tip.

However, the man specified that the money was not to be kept by herself alone; it had to be shared among her colleagues, according to local news media.

Completely overwhelmed, Linsey went back to the kitchen and shared the joyous news with the other waitresses. They distributed the money among themselves, each keeping about $1,200 (€1,110).

One of Huff's colleagues later told local TV news station ‘WNDU’ that everyone in the service staff “is going through something in their life.” So, “that amount helps us all a lot.”

“I don't want a problem”

The euphoria and happiness that filled the café turned completely around after a few days. The kitchen staff caught wind of the matter and felt left out. Angrily, they confronted Linsey about not being considered. She mentioned she would discuss it with her managers. That conversation backfired: the managers, not wanting negativity after such a heartwarming story, demanded the names of those who complained, writes the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ based on Linsey's lawyer.

Linsey refused to give names “because she didn't want to create a bigger problem.” She hoped for support to ease the discontent among her colleagues. The managers were inflexible and fired Linsey on the spot for work refusal, her lawyer states. On social media, the waitress vented her sorrow. “One week I'm a great, hardworking employee. Now, for the first time since I was 15, I’m without a job.”

In a statement on Facebook, the owners of the Mason Jar Café denied that the tip issue played a role in the dismissal. “This was a decision we did not make hastily or lightly,” it read. A specific reason for the dismissal was not provided. “We really care about our staff,” they further stated. “We do everything to avoid losing staff.” According to the management, the Mason Jar team is very close-knit and has consisted of the same people for years.

Linsey claims her former employer's story is entirely false. In fact, she felt compelled to hire a lawyer because her managers threatened her with a civil case if she didn’t stop discussing her dismissal on social media, her lawyer told ‘The Guardian’. “They told her they would sue her and demand money. She laughed and said: good luck, I’m a waitress. I don’t own any estate or anything.”

It should never have come to this, according to the lawyer. “Through her own generosity and sharing this tip – at the request of the person who was so generous - she lost her job.”

The Mason Jar Café has declined to comment further on the matter. “We cannot comment on the nature of her job loss due to labor laws and to protect the involved staff," the statement concluded.

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