A Wisconsin waiter who received no gratuity simply because, according to a nasty note scrawled on the receipt, “service was good, but we don’t tip sinfull [sic] homosexuals,” has gotten kindness — and cash — returned to him in spades.
“To the folks who felt it was necessary to write this hateful note and not tip...don't worry me and about 250 others will cover the tip for you,” wrote Eric Salzwedel in a Facebook post displaying the first receipt and a second, for a $45 meal that he had at the same Madison restaurant with the same (requested) server — and a whopping $4,500 tip.
It was the collective donations from about 250 people around the country who responded with grace and generosity to Salzwedel’s Venmo challenge, to right the wrong, which he blasted across social media through his Do Good Wisconsin organization, which aims to promote the vast amounts of good done by both businesses and individuals across the state.
Salzwedel, who works as a consultant for for-profit companies on community outreach and charitable giving, tells Yahoo Life that he learned about the first receipt through a mutual friend of the server’s and that he knew immediately that he wanted to respond.
“I’m always big into just treating people right, with respect and being kind to one another,” he explains. Seeing the receipt, he thought, “this just isn’t right… and I wanted to show there’s more love than hate out there.”
He adds, “This really upset me that someone would do something like this. To go to the extent of saying it was good service, but because of their sexual orientation, they decided not to give them a tip.”
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Through his organization, Salzwedel spent much of 2020 doing Venmo challenges to raise big tips for servers and delivery drivers struggling amidst the pandemic, giving out a total of $20,000 thanks to all the donations.
So, returning to that model to crowdsource for this waiter was second nature — although he was still happily surprised by how swiftly people responded, amassing the $4,500 within just 36 hours.
“Probably half the people that had contributed were people who I didn’t even know who they were — and from around the country, giving usually $5 to $20… but as little as $2 and [up to] $100,” Salzwedel reports, “and with messages like ‘love is love’ and ‘give him a hug for me.’”
When he presented the waiter — who has requested anonymity throughout this process — with the tip, explaining that it was the sum of more than 250 contributors, he was overwhelmed.
“Just super grateful,” Salzwedel says, adding that he was so moved by the gesture that he decided to pay it forward — donating a portion of the huge tip to the Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, along with all the donations, totaling around $300, that have come in since.
And that, says Salzwedel, is exactly the response he always wishes for when spreading good — that it moves others to follow suit.
“At the end of the day, I just hope it will inspire others to do this, too, to say, ‘I can do that,’” he says. “We’re going through so much right now. It’s important to be nice to each other.”