March 14, 1996 in Nation/World

Big Tipper, His Money Soon Parted Patron Has Second Thoughts About $1,000 Gratuity

Amy Corneliussen Associated Press
 

There’s one tip waitress Ruth Bullis never will forget: $1,000 on a $3.95 gin and tonic.

Apparently, the tipper can’t get it out of his mind either. He wants the money back.

But Bullis is not about to hand it over. She’s already spent it.

She and her co-workers at Stanford’s Restaurant and Bar say the tipper wasn’t tipsy or otherwise addled when he signed the credit-card slip in November. And besides, “once someone gives you a tip, that’s it,” explains Bullis, a newlywed who lives and works in this well-to-do Portland suburb.

Moreover, Bullis, 37, says she saw the tipper three weeks later and he mentioned that he had thought of her as he had paid his credit card bill.

The money came in handy for some bills, a Christmas ski suit for Bullis’ husband and a rain jacket for herself.

In February, the restaurant’s owner, Pacific Coast Restaurants Inc. of Portland, got a letter from American Express. The customer - Bullis doesn’t know his full name, and Pacific Coast won’t say - was disputing the tip.

Pacific Coast wrote back, assuring the credit card company that the man knew what he was doing. Bullis says she double-checked that he intended to give her $1,000, then a manager came out and checked again.

“He assured us, ‘This is what I want to do, and no, you’re not going to change my mind,”’ says Wes Curl, Pacific Coast’s vice president of operations. The company runs 16 restaurants in the Portland area.

Craig, who was joined by another man at the Stanford’s for lunch, paid his $50 tab at Stanford’s and added a $40 tip - nice, but not uncommon in Bullis’ six years at Stanford’s.

He was just getting started. One hour and one gin-and-tonic later, he left her a $100 tip. After a third ginand-tonic - four hours after arriving - he scribbled down a $1,000 tip on a credit card slip.

“He said, ‘I can leave you whatever I want - what goes around comes around. I’m a big spender,”’ Bullis recalls.

He had overheard her talking to the bartender about her efforts to get pregnant, he said, and wanted her to have the money to start a family.

Friends jokingly ask Bullis what she had to do for the money, but she insists the man didn’t suggest anything untoward.

“He kind of reminded me of an old boyfriend,” she says. “We had this kind of chemistry, but it wasn’t romantic. He’s very much a gentleman.”


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email