Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Traveling While Black

I frequently find myself in some of the trendiest/most expensive restaurants in a city when I travel for work.  The beauty of having a job that makes you travel is the blank check that comes along with it.  All of my expenses are covered by my job so I tend to live it up.

Unfortunately, I am not always treated nicely in these trendy, expensive places.  Depending on where I am traveling, I am often the only black person or the only single person in a restaurant.  I know that some people hold a bias against black diners because they believe that black people don't tip well.  Now let me say, I definitely know black people that live up to the stereotype but I also know a lot of white people who are bad tippers. 

I've also been told that black women are finicky diners who complain about their food and try to get things for free.  If my food is bad I might complain but if the service is crappy I might just suck it up to get the night over with.  But these biases put me in a terrible situation. If I receive bad service I shouldn't leave a big tip but if I don't leave a big tip it just feeds into their bias and makes them treat the next person even worse.

Tonight I dined alone at a trendy restaurant in a major city.  I saw people who arrived after me get served before me.  My drink order never came so I had to ask the person who brought my food to check on my drink.  My waiter never checked on me after he took my order.  I'm pretty sure I was overcharged for my dinner but it took so long to get the bill (and remember it's not my money) that I didn't want to risk sending it back. 

Not that it should matter but I was dressed in my work clothes.  A nice blouse and slacks.  My wedding ring is kind of big and I carry a designer purse.  If you were going to stereotype someone as cheap it wouldn't be me.  That's all I'm saying.

So what did I do?  I left a big tip and walked out feeling discriminated against.  I will mention the bad service on my Yelp review but the food was good and the spot was trendy so that won't keep people away.  If I mentioned to management that I felt their waiters discriminated against some diners they wouldn't believe it.  This is a very diverse big city with an equally diverse clientele.  But I was there tonight and I know what I experienced.