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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cracker Barrel Has Cheesy Hash Browns and an Honest Waitress

ATTN: This post has been edited. Please read the original post below and then at the bottom read my response to the changes. Thank you.


Sometimes heroes live in a city called Metropolis and they wear capes. Other times, the hero lives in Crawfordsville, Indiana and wears a brown apron while working at Cracker Barrel. Okay, maybe "hero" is too strong a word, but a Cracker Barrel waitress proved that she has honesty and integrity and is way better than I am.

Nicole McKinney was at work serving the usual hash brown casserole and thick sausage patties when two women came into her station. Jane Mitchell and her mother, Sara Froedge, popped in to get their daily recommended allowance of gravy and such. After they were done, Nicole went to clear the table and she discovered a large denomination bill that had been left on the table underneath a napkin. She knew right away that it was too much to be her tip, because most people at Cracker Barrel leave two or three dollars and some shiny dimes. Nicole immediately threw down her tray and rushed to find her customers to give them back the large denomination bill. (I like to imagine that it was a $100 bill or maybe even a $1000, but this is Cracker Barrel we are talking about, so "large denomination bill" could mean a five. Make those Lincolns, yo.) She found her customers in the little gift shop area where they were about to buy some Moon Pies, a rocking chair and a wind chime made out of metal wrenches.

“No way does anyone leave that kind of tip,” McKinney said. “I know I wouldn’t want to lose that kind of money. I knew it had to be a mistake.”

Mitchell thanked Nicole for being so honest and immediately knowing that she never would have left  a big tip like that. “She could have easily put the money in her apron, and we would have never known what happened to the cash,” Mitchell said. “But she didn’t. She did the right thing.” She gave her a hug (really, she only did that to get one more whiff of biscuit) and went on her way.

But wait, there's more!

When Jane Mitchell got home, she put a note on Facebook mentioning how honest her server was and one of her Facebook friends mentioned that they should start a collection to reward the waitress's honesty. Within one week, they had raised $320. The customer contacted the manager at Cracker Barrel to see if it would be alright to come up to surprise the waitress and the manager was probably like, "Well, as long as it doesn't take time away from her side work duties." Nicole McKinney was handed a card that said "I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 18, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’” There was also $320. Nicole wept with joy and Jane Mitchell got to show the world what a good up-standing Christian she is and just to make sure, she had a picture taken and then alerted the news media.

Way to go, Nicole McKinney! You give servers a good name.  I am not sure I would have done the same thing if I found a $100 bill on my table. I probably would have thought one of the following things:
  1. I guess they really liked my service.
  2. What $100 bill? I didn't see a $100 bill.
  3. Finders keepers, losers weepers, bitches.
Nicole proves that she is a better person than I am. The last time I went after a customer who had left the restaurant, it was to hand them a pair of sunglasses they had left at the table and even that was after I determined that the sunglasses did not look good on me.

I went to the Yelp page of this particular Cracker Barrel and see that they only have one star. I say we all go over there and give them a 5-star rating and throw a shout out to Nicole for being so cool.

What would you have done if you found a large denomination bill under the napkin when you cleared the table? Or a better question might be, what would you have spent it on?
everything below was added on February 7, 2013

After I wrote the above post, I was contacted by the writer of the original article because she felt that I had violated copyright laws. She also failed to see my sense of humor and wanted me to remove the post.  Let me start off by saying I did not copy and paste the original story. The only things that were verbatim from the article were the direct quotes of the people involved.

According to the Fair Use Doctrine (Section 110 (5) of the Copyright Act of 1976), it is allowable to use "limited portions" of a copyrighted item for works such as commentary, news reporting, academic reports, and the like. But you still have to give credit. You cannot claim the work as yours. You must cite where it came from.

Let me cite where the story came from, since the original link to the site wasn't good enough. It came from the esteemed publication called Journal Review in Crawfordsville, Indiana, population 16,042. In other words, about 4,000 people less than on the Bitchy Waiter Facebook page. The original article was written by someone who probably has a couple of Pulitzer Prizes sitting on her mantel right next to the homecoming mum that she saved from her sophomore year in high school.

I truly enjoyed your article and wanted more people to know about waitress Nicole McKinney. I am feel certain that had Huffington Post or CNN picked up your news story, you would have been quite excited about it. Perhaps you take issue with the fact that someone called The Bitchy Waiter found your story and not Wolf Blitzer. I also apologize that you may have found my twist on the story unflattering, but I always try to paint the picture in favor of the server. Yes, customer Jane Mitchell did a great thing by rewarding Ms. McKinney for her honesty but let's face it: it sounds a little bit attention-whorey, dontcha think? I can quote the bible too, Ms. Mitchell:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4 (Thank you to Jenifer for that one.)

I am not going to take the post down because I didn't do anything wrong. News organizations constantly search the Internet for stories to regurgitate and all they have to do is give credit where credit is due. I have done that. And I am done.

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Anonymous said...

You crack me up!! I have worked at Cracker Barrel before so it was all the more hilarious to me. Especially that a large bill coulda been a fiver :D

A said...

This is where the hand of Karma comes into play, and by Karma, I mean the Judge Judy in my head.

If the customers were civil, followed protocol, tipped appropriately, and otherwise were not assholes, I would feel a duty to return the money to them if they were still in the restaurant. However, If they'd left, I'd say 'Awesome!' and pocket it.

If they were assholes, I pocket the money as an idiot tax.

Dave Palethorpe said...

Nicole Rocks!!! love from Portugal x

Anonymous said...

I worked at a Cracker Barrel for 12 years... Tips are not based on where you work, but rather the service you provide.

erin said...

Anybody else think it's a little funny that the woman who'd accidentally left the big bill there had to have it suggested (be goaded into?) to her that a bunch of people should chip in for the server? And then it was presented to her, and the media, and, and, and...all seems a bit attention-whorey to me.

Anonymous said...

"the manager said that it was fine as long as it didn't take time away from her side work duties." Restaurant management defined in one sentence.

Anonymous said...

Lady that left the money sounds like a fucking idiot to me.

Stronger Now said...

Screw that manager that said "Okay, as long as it doesnt interfere with her sidework" He obviously knows her good deed, he could'nt let her bask in the "stardom" for a little while? AND- Who the f$^k "forgets" a large bill on the table? AND, she's lucky the bus-boy didnt get there first..

Unknown said...

I ran after a customer the other night after she left a $50 amex gift card under her napkin. I didn't get shit but a %15 tip. If I had it to do over again....

SoberN2003 said...

I had the same thing happen to me years ago when I was a server at CB. A regular customer sat in my section ,all went well and she and her friend left.. I went to clean the table and found a 50 dollar bill. They were regulars who were always pleasant to wait on,not demanding,and tipped well. It did not occur to me to keep this without confirming that they had meant to leave that much so the next time they came in I approached them and gave it back,explaining that I thought it was an accident.. she had me go break the 50 at the register for her and then handed me 25 dollars.
sorry Bitchy but I really didnt want to upset and anger this customer by being dishonest.yes I could think of lots of things I could have bought with that 50 bucks but my conscience was screaming to do the right thing.. having lost large amounts of money that fell out of my purse(150 dollars one time at Waffle House) and 90 dollars another time at Kroger and NOT getting it back I know what it feels like to lose hard earned money

Anonymous said...

Well, I posted a 5-star on Yelp! as you suggested (niiiice call to action), but was amused to see that Yelp!'s weird Filtro-matic machine is filtering out many similar reviews. (Including one that was an update of a previous legit review.) Anyway, great story in all its dimensions.

anne marie in philly said...

give it back. my conscience would not allow me to do otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I found 100 dollars on the seat of a booth after the people left and turned it in to management. They came back to get it the next day and gave me 20 bucks. There is no way I could have kept it. I'm too honest for my own good :)

Anonymous said...

I've been a CB server for 5 years and I would have kept that shit!

Anonymous said...

I work at a Cracker Barrel. My best tip has beena $50 handed staight to me. I was sure he handed me the wrong bill, because yes our tips tend to be $3.
I would like to say I would have given it back like a good person, but if they didn't come asking I probably would have kept it. "My tip, bitches"

Christina Eaton said...

The place that I am employed tends to have a large percentage of old people as patrons. There have been several occasions that they have inadvertently left me way too much money. I always bring it to their attention, I am just soft-hearted like that i guess. On a good note, probably like 80 percent of the time they tell me to keep it for being honest. Karma I guess?

Anonymous said...

I was waiting on a family (mom, young daughter) on a busy day, and after they left I found an envelope under the little girl's napkin. It had "Nana" written on it in green crayon, and I figured the little girl had just been using it for scrap paper. When I pciked it up tho, it felt thick, so I opened it. There weas 1200 dollars in hundred dollar bills inside! They had already been gone for about 10 minutes (I was too busy to immediately clean the table when they left), and I knew they weren't from the area, and had just been passing through. There was a bank slip, though, and I figured if nothing else, I could bring it to the bank and they'd be able to trace it and put it back in her account. After an hour or so passed, I see the mom running frantically back into the restaurant, and she ran up to it to ask if I had found it. When I gave it back to her, she almost started crying, hugged me....and gave me 100 dollars! I never could have kept it and been ok with myself. I was going to bring it to the bank after my shift if she hadn't have returned. The thing I can't figure out is how it got left in the first plsce. If I, for some reason, had to carry that much cash on me, it'd be at the bottom of my purse, and I'd have a death grip on that thing. I WOULD NOT be handing it to a child to write on in a public place! And she told me she had driven quite a ways before she realised it was gone, too.


LR said...

I personally have received tips as high as a $150 on a $100 dollar bill and knew that it was on purpose because I saw the table of women pool the $$ together and the head of the party came and gave it to me personally (which is awesome and those ladies were fantastic).
On the other handI have also found money that customers dropped or obviously didn't mean to leave me and I always either turned the money over to management if they had already left or ran and grabbed them to give them the money back. 9 out of 10 times the customer just let me keep the money because they were touched by the honesty. I don't return it because I expect to be rewarded for the honesty but because I don't feel good accepting money that clearly wasn't intended for me and that I didn't earn.

Jaseki said...

Never been in a Cracker Barrel, though drove past many. Always made me think of white people. In a barrel. Probably not a good thing. That and the cheese.

Anonymous said...

A total prick sitting in my section dropped a bank envelope with $600 in the booth crumb catcher. I found it later when I was cleaning my section to go home. Knowing the guy was a total jerk, I briefly considered keeping it, but decided I would never be able to live with myself. When he came back later to get it, his exact words to the manager were, "I'm pretty surprised she didn't just pocket it- thank God". I might have done it differently had I known he was going to assume I was an asshole to begin with! Jerk.

Josh A. said...

Out of curiosity, why is one of the labels on this "Cracker Barrel hates gay people"? Anyway, I'm curious how much the patron contributed towards the $320. Also, it's "Matthew" singular, although it's a common misconception as many people think the last book is "Revelations" when in fact it's just "Revelation", meaning the Revelation of John. Just trying to help the cred.

amber.cb said...

I used to work at a Burger King, and found a woman's wallet/small clutch thing once. I didn't look inside, I don't go through people's things...but I did turn it into my manager who may or may not have stolen all of the money that the little boy who came in the next day said was in his mom's wallet that got left behind..

Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech at it`s finest :)

Anonymous said...

You're right about the "big bills" at Cracker Barrel being a $5. I've worked there for almost 5 years now. We get a fair share of good tippers, but the majority of our guests are elderly, white trash, or uppity church folk who think 10% is a great tip and that a little church booklet is a fine substitute for a tip. Oh, and we are one of the only places in town that dont have an auto-grat for large parties, so we get the cheapskates that want to avoid leaving a decent tip. I have had to split a $10 tip with another server after we both busted our asses to cater to a party's every whim for three hours after we shut down our whole sections to sit all 30 of them. $10 on a check that was over $250. I really hate my job some days.

Anonymous said...

I have had to split a $10 tip with another server after we both busted our asses to cater to a party's every whim for three hours after we shut down our whole sections to sit all 30 of them. $10 on a check that was over $250. I really hate my job some days.

D: D: What is wrong with people?
Did your manager say anything?

With such a large bill isn't a gratuity added on regardless?
You should have gotten at least 20%!

Anonymous said...

Pitbullgirl, the manager (who was actually out there kissing their asses and helping cut and distribute their cake) was actually really disappointed for us. But there's nothing he could do about it. And no, no matter how many people are in a party or how large their bill is, Cracker Barrel will not add a gratuity to the bill. The official corporate reasoning is along the lines of how they don't want to alienate any guests who don't think auto-grat is a fair practice, they want people to be able to tip as they see fit, and of course "servers will be more likely to get a tip greater than what the auto-grat would be" line of bullshit. Truth is, they don't care too much for the well being of their servers. As a general rule, they don't give a shit if we make money, as long as we make enough that they don't have to pay us a minimum wage credit. Oh, and on top of not being able to add on the standard 18% to large parties, all parties of 8 or more must be shared between servers. For every additional 8 people you need another server. For really big parties this is good, but most servers can easily handle a 9 or 10 or even 12 top by themselves. Of course we don't always follow the policy to the letter, mostly because we all hate it and its not worth it. No one ever seems to take into consideration that they have two or more servers they have to tip, and on top of that someone always seems to end up letting the other person do most of the work because they know they will be getting half the tip anyway.

Anonymous said...

I once worked for cracker Barrel, and was fired about 2 weeks in because and I quote, I didn't have a "country fresh attitude".

Anonymous said... on my shift-from-hell at CB, an elderly couple left a $20 and 3 $1's on their table, for a bill totalling $18. I gave it to the manager, figuring they didn't pay their bill up front...but they had, and he told me to keep it, and just felt better that way, I guess. Most "guests" tip like crap, I still suspect they screwed up, but I did what I could..

Anonymous said...

The lady from this article is my wife her name is now Nicole Morrison. I must say it's pretty cool to stumble upon this blog.

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