Photo: TrongNguyen (iStock)

One of the most underrated parts of a) adulthood and b) being an adult with an occupation that allows for some flexibility on where I’m able to work is that I don’t have to spend much time around people I don’t fuck with. No asshole 11th grader I have to catch the school bus with each morning, no shitty manager I have to sit across from 40 hours a week, no punchable customer(s) I’m required to be nice to. If I’m not feeling a person or a situation, I can just exit without any social or occupational repercussions.

I forget sometimes that this is a privilege, but I’m reminded of it when I’m in the rare situation where I might be required to talk to or sit next to, or just be in the same space with someone I genuinely don’t like.


Oh this person is sincerely making my teeth itch. I forgot how that feels.

One such interaction happened a few years ago at a club in Pittsburgh. “Rich,” a famous-in-Pittsburgh nigga I knew but didn’t know know, had a private table and invited me to sit and hang out with him and his boys. They had bottles of Honey Jack and a bucket of chicken wings, so it wasn’t a hard sell.


So I sat and ate wings and watched, for the next hour, Rich go full Joffrey Baratheon on the waitstaff. It was almost as if he made it his personal mission to be as much of a dick as he possibly could. Like perhaps it was a perk you paid for with bottle service.

I saw some of my homegirls there, gave those guys a pound, and left the table to chill on the outdoor patio with them. When I came back inside an hour or so later, Rich and his boys were gone, but left behind, in clear view, was the check for the bottles they purchased. It was for several hundred dollars. Rich’s signature was on it, as well as the amount he left for the tip. Three dollars. Plus a smiley face.


In the years since, Rich has remained famous in Pittsburgh, and I see him at various social events. When we see each other, we speak and maybe do the black man three-step-pound thing, and he seems cool and cordial and affable. But he’s on my list of niggas I just don’t fuck with like that because the way he treated the servers that night let me know everything I needed to know about him.

Of course, not every person who chooses to be a terrible tipper will also be as big of an asshole as Rich was. But the Venn diagram of “people who are shitty tippers and actually know better and either don’t give a fuck or try to justify why they’re shitty” and “people you probably should trust about as much as you trust a reused condom” is a tight fucking circle.


Ultimately, If you are a bad tipper and you take pride in being a bad tipper, you will be judged. As you should, because you are probably—definitely—also a trash person.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a columnist for, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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