What should you do when Open Carry activists walk into the restaurant you're in?
There are articles going around saying if Open Carry zealots enter the restaurant you’re in, get up and leave without paying. They’re only half right. Leave the restaurant? Yes. If everybody does that, yes it will send a strong message against Open Carry crazies. A mass exodus will be a chilling site.
Leave your bill unpaid? No. Get your check and pay it immediately, and explain why you are leaving. Clear your family out, wait at the entrance, pay your bill there. Or call from outside to make payment arrangements.
Speaking as an experienced veteran of the restaurant industry, many servers or bartenders get stuck with unpaid bills. Most live off of their tips alone, and getting stuck with even one large unpaid check can wipe out much of their shift. A whole room of them? Devastation. It’s a tough business, and sticking these workers with unpaid checks will actually take food out of people’s mouths.
No restaurant owner can legally dock a server or bartender for a skipped check. But it still happens all the time. Maybe it didn’t happen at the place you worked, but trust me, there are restaurant/bar workers reading this right now and nodding grimly in agreement.
Restaurant workers have very little legal recourse other than go find another job to pay your bills because you got fired for talking back. Hopefully things will eventually be filed in your favor, many months later, and your boss has to pay you back that check he made you eat and maybe some damages if you’re lucky. But enforcing that decision is another long merry go round that most servers can’t afford to ride, especially if they have children to feed.
All for maybe a few hundred bucks, you could lose thousands and thousands in lost pay due to time spent looking for another job, getting shifts covered to make the possible appearances, and so on and so forth. Some owners get held accountable for cheating servers. Many don’t. And sometimes the worker has no other options available.
Is this practice illegal? Yes. Does it happen on a regular basis? Absolutely. Especially in Right to Work States, like Texas, where workers’ rights are suppressed in favor of the “job creators.” Oh yeah, Texas is an Open Carry State too. See where this is going?
Most often, it’s just not worth the damn hassle for the server to fight back against being made to pay a left check, and owners know that. Especially if they have people coming through the door every day looking for jobs. Facts of life in “The Industry.” Some places are good. Some are bad.
Remember, the restaurants did not ask for this, it’s been foisted upon them by the gun crazies. Don’t punish them for those zealots’ asshole behavior. No restaurant wants to cater to a group that clears the place out, but running on your bill will shift public anger to YOU, not the gun nuts.
While composing this piece, the somber news broke about an Open Carry activist shooting a woman to death. It was a stark reminder of just how serious this issue really is. It filled this writer with many doubts about what I was forwarding.
This idea needed to be run by a few people. I asked three of the smartest Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) activists around about the idea of dashing out of the restaurant upon first sight of Open Carry nuts. Here’s what Lana, Bill, and Amanda had to say.
“I would totally walk out too, but you have to pay if you don’t actually think they are about to kill you. I don’t trust them, either, but I would be lying if I said that I was so immediately scared I had no choice but to run out without paying.”
“This type of protest, as well intended as it might be, reeks of white privilege. Its not the kind of protest everyone can participate in. Do you see ethnic minorities being able to walk out on a tab because of gun nuts?”
“It’s an issue of class and race. It plays to the ‘white suburban elitist’ label the gun nuts like to place on GVP advocates. And in this case they would not be wrong.
Whether there’s a restaurant rule about sticking wait staff with the bill or not, you’re creating a pain in the ass for the workers to clean up. You’re acting entitled. You’re doing it because you think you can and you’re using the excuse ‘I’m doing it for my kids.’
Well, who the fuck does that sound like?
The suggestion of walking out of the restaurant to send a message is premised on the idea that there’s no other option. Which is the kind of simplistic thinking we ordinarily criticize gun nuts for.”
“Obviously if you were in a position where you felt there was an immediate, direct threat to your life, you would leave without paying and nobody would need to put forth an argument for you to do so because it would be automatic.
That is what rubs me the wrong way about the piece that was floating around – the advice was to skip out on the bill just because you don’t like the presence of the people.”
“We like to say that gun nuts’ view of society and civilization is a primitive, unsophisticated one. It’s not complex and nuanced and they don’t know how to think their way through a problem. Everything’s reduced to fight or flight with them.
Running out of a restaurant? Yeah–that would be the flight part. And guess who’s just pulled you into their world view?
First and foremost. You ask to cancel the order. If it’s already being cooked, you take it to go. You tip and you pay. You ask to speak to the manager. You explain to the manager the problem, why you’re leaving, why you likely won’t be back, and then you find out who to write a communication to and let them know your feelings.
It’s called being civilized. Which is ultimately the goal of GVP, isn’t it?”
Don’t use Open Carry as an excuse to dine and dash is the point, basically. Get out, yes. If you really think you’re in danger, you need to put your family’s and your own safety first. But pay your bill. Call them back with your credit card info, or arrange to return to pay the bill.
As they continue to demonstrate, these Open Carry fanatics are dangerous assholes. Anybody who has to walk around with a gun to be all tough or act like a hero is someone who has to feel like they’re better than you. Jerks like that are the most hated customers in all of the restaurant industry. They’re loud pains in the ass who generally don’t tip well and drive everyone else away.
Still, two wrongs do not make a right, and those big mouth gunnie bastards will howl it from the rooftops that the people who oppose them are thieves. Don’t give them that justification, no matter how much of a false premise it is based upon.
To illustrate properly that restaurants will lose your business by allowing Open Carry, they should miss your business and want it back. Stiffing them on your bill isn’t the way to do that. Now, the gun nuts are the better customers. That’s exactly counter to the point you’re trying to make.
Dave Barry once said that a person who is nice to you but is not nice to the waiter is not a nice person. So don’t be that person. It’s really that simple.