CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{December 5, 2006}   Working for Tips

diner-photo.jpgBefore you start thinking I’m being petty, you gotta know that for the most part, I work for tips. I work in a diner in The Hood (Over-the-Rhine) and if I do say so myself, I work damn hard.

I’m nice to all the customers who sit at my tables. I give them good service. I refill their coffee cups. I refill their Coke glasses. I ask them if the food is to their liking. I try to be a good waitress.

And then I get no tip. It’s been happening a lot lately. Sometimes I feel angry about it. I mean I know I’m not working in a fancy restaurant and I know that the customers who come in don’t have a lot of money. I think if they did, they wouldn’t be eating in The Hood – but sometimes I would like to see a little appreciation for the service I give them.

I don’t mean to complain but you know – even a quarter would mean something to me.

Karen @ The Hood


Jim Stanton says:


Tell me where you work and I’ll come in and give you a big tip, just for the great posts you write. And I really enjoyed the column you wrote last week for Living Out Loud.

Jeannie says:

I know what you are talking about Karen. I wait tables myself part-time and it kills me to work hard at a table and get nothing for it. What can you do?

Debbie says:

I use to wait tables to, in Western Hills. Let me tell you, cheapness is everywhere, especially on the West Side.

Sammy says:

There’s no side like the west side………cheap and conservative.

Marilyn says:

Karen, it is very sad how people don’t tip. I’ve seen large groups of well-to-do church people run a waitress ragged on Sundays after church and leave a dollar tip. There are as many as 10-12 people in these groups. And they are dressed nicely.

I can judge a person’s character on how they tip.

Jeff says:

Church going people are the worst when it comes to tips. What do these people think – that you can live on faith alone?

Mac says:

I got a tip for ya – save your money!

Brenda says:

A little cold, don’t you think Mac?

Wendy says:

I can totally relate to what Karen is saying.

I worked at the La Rosa’s on the west side for about six months last year. You talk about people being cheap. I mean well dressed couples, families would come in to eat and I would be lucky to get a buck. Being a waitress is damn hard work and a lot of customers and owners don’t appreciate it.

Jean says:

The answer to your problem is very simple. If you’re not making enough doing what you’re doing, find another job! There are temp places everywhere looking for factory workers and they even take you to the site. Sometimes you have to learn to help yourself. Stop complaining.

Mac says:

I hope Karen @ the hood knows I was just kidding around. Sorry.

Biscuit says:

I’ve always felt that if you can’t afford to leave a tip then you can’t afford to go out to dinner.

It is strange but true that church folks leave poor tips. It is also a little known fact that at the last supper they only left 4% -which is bullshit. So maybe that’s where that comes from.

Harvey says:

Your comments always amazes me. Tell me, do you live on the west side?

Heather says:


First of all, I loved your column and you should write more.

Second, it’s crazy that Ohio allows waitresses to be paid less than MINIMUM WAGE. Tips are supposed to be extra money for a job well-done, not your main source of income.

Third, (I’m not going to tell you what I think about Jean, because I don’t want to get ugly), but you really should consider another job. Personally, I’ve never had the chops to be a waitress. I realize that getting another job may be difficult because you dropped out of high school, though. You know, you should contact someone at Cincinnati State. Tell them your situation and ask them if there is any financial assistance to help you get your GED and then enroll in classes at the college. Be sure to tell them that you have done some freelance writing for CityBeat (it helps if the person on the other end of the phone realizes the kind of potential you have). If that person can’t help you, call someone else until you find someone who can. There are lots of programs to help people get through school (that’s how I did it), all you need is the will to do it.

Also, the best writing comes from real-life experiences, and as you move along on your journey towards a better life, you will have lots of articles to write about your adventures along the way.

Hang in there, Karen. And you can always get in contact with me through my site if you want to talk.

hard as nails says:

what a gal that jean is. she’s all heart.

Billy says:

Yep, the church goers are the lousy tippers. I work at a restaurant in Hyde Park and some of the old folks come in after church. Really poor tips. I guess they gave all their extra to the collection plate.

Joe says:

Karen @ the Hood:

Great LOL column this past week!


Luke says:


I think I love you. Don’t take that the wrong way, but I loved the LOL Column last week and since then, I found out about this blog and I’ve been catching up on your life.

I think your a great person and I feel bad you’re having a bit of a hard life. I love the way you write and all the honestly that comes shining through. Please keep doing it.

Babble On says:

My girl Karen is one of the main reasons I keep visiting. Don’t go no where girl!

Matt says:


Don’t take this the wrong way. Most of us here are very protective of you, but since you live so close to downtown, why don’t you walk or take a bus to the heart of downtown and apply for jobs there? It sounds like you’re a hard worker and a friendly waitress – why not go and apply to something more upscale? It’s just a thought.

Karen @ the hood says:


I want to thank all of you who read what I wrote today. Even the some of you can’t figure me out (like I can’t either) and I want to say thanks to them too.

Heather: Getting my GED is one my mind and come the first of the year, I’m gonna try and figure out how to do it. It’s a little scary for me. I know I’m not stupid but maybe I am when it comes to book learning. I know I need to.

Luke: You’re O.K. in my book. I feel bad when people think I have a hard life . Maybe it’s the way I’m saying it. I don’t know if it is hard or not – it’s just my life.

Matt: I hear what you’re saying about going downtown and getting better table work. Sometimes I take the bus in to town but that’s an added expense I usually don’t need. My skinny legs can get me there. I don’t know. I’m afraid I might fail serving those fancy people and all but I should think it over more.

Again, thanks to everyone who read me today.

Matt says:

We love ya, Karen 🙂

numb says:

i was at your diner today. i left you a hundred dollars. you’re not a bad kid.

Karen says:

Even numb is soft on Karen @ the hood 🙂

Debbie Lane says:

I waited on tables at the downtown Frisch’s for like seven years. You know, it’s just a hard life. I got to know my regular customers who I liked but it seemed like after they got to know you, the tips became less. You try to be friendly and they come to know you and then tip you less. I can’t figure that out.

I’m now at Arby’s on McMillian. I think that’s even more depressing, fast food served inside a paper bag and not even the opporuntity for a customer to tip you.

Tim Graves says:

As far as I’m concerned, Karen over there at the hood is the LOL girl. I love the words she writes – real and uncomplicated. Mr. Editor, you have yourself a true winner here.

Del says:

You touch me. I wish I knew what diner you worked in so I could come in and sit at one of your tables and maybe help you a little bit – talk to you and leave you a generous tip. What a good person you are.

Jackie says:

Karen @ The Hood, C.A., Heather, Marilyn, Larry, Teri and the rest of you who come here…..

I love this place. it’s addicting. I visit everyday and so do all walks of life. What a great hang out for us, you know?

I’m drinking a little tonight but feeling right at home here 🙂

Marilyn says:

Wow numb, that is a most heartfelt response! God love ya!

Jackie, I’m drinking a little tonite also. I’ve been nursing along a vodka tonic, but it’s time to get serious!

Karen, know what? We may converge on your diner someday. After I relearn to drive with my left foot, I’ll be able to mosey down into civilization.

Jean, Jean, what can we say about you? Hmmm, I’d rather leave it alone because you are certainly a very different sort, ya know?

Heather says:


I have some very important school advice for when you get there. This is important, so remember it.

If you’re the least bit intimidated by book work, let your teacher know that. You are so sweet, and if you just show an interest in any class and talk to the teacher a little, they will bend over backwards to help you.

Teaching is a thankless job, and a little appreciation goes a long way. When they get a student who actually wants to learn, 95% of them are more than willing to help.

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