Gates, Brokaw Stiff Waitress

The Washington Post’s Reliable Source reports on a trip to Watertown, South Dakota–my home town–by Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw. They were taping a story on the Gates Foundation’s $250 million gift of computers to “rural America.” While in town, they stopped at the Past Times Cafe, where Mrs. Rocket and I have eaten on occasion, for a cappuccino. They then left without paying the bill or tipping the waitress.
The waitress, Jackie Harrington, displayed typical “red state” courtesy: “It’s all right,” she said. “A tip is not an obligation.” I don’t really understand it, but it seems that when people get rich enough, they become accustomed to not paying for things. Brokaw says that he has now sent the owner of the cafe two twenty dollar bills, one to pay the tab and the other “with an inscription, for Corinne to hang up on her wall.” I hope she spends them both.


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