"Once, back in my waitressing days, I had an older couple accuse me of stealing!
They ordered and ate their food. Their behavior was a little rude, but nothing too far out of the ordinary (in customer service, rude patrons are par for the course).
At the end of the meal, I gave them their bill, which came to something like $28. They left $30 on the table. They both went to use the restroom, and then they left the restaurant.
I came by and found the $30 sitting on the table.
My thought was: 'Only a $2 tip? That’s less than 10 percent. Whatever…' So I cashed them out, and pocketed the two dollars.
About thirty minutes later, the couple returned to the restaurant looking frantic. I wondered if they had forgotten something, and asked them if everything was okay? It turned out, they had forgotten something…their $2 change.
They were furious! They said they had forgotten to grab their change on their way back from the restrooms. They were angry at me for not stopping them from leaving without reminding them that they had forgotten the $2. They seemed to think I was running some sort of scam where I tried to trick old people into forgetting their $2 change.
When I pulled the $2 out of my pocket and handed it over, they immediately accused me of stealing their money! They were both definitely American, so they should have been aware of the concept of tipping.
They tried to complain to my manager, but he had very little patience. He just told them there must have been a misunderstanding, but since they now had their $2, they should leave immediately. The other customers who could overhear them all looked appalled.
At the time, I was only 16 or 17 and I was very shaken by the experience. My manager felt bad that they had been so rude to me. He pulled $2 out of his own wallet and handed it over. He told me not to let it bother me too much, since they were clearly just bitter people. Some people are just going to be scumbags and there’s nothing you can do about it."