When Dayna Morales, an ex-Marine and now server at the Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, New Jersey, went to pick up the $93.55 bill from a family she had been serving that night, she was affronted to find a note scribbled on the receipt saying she would be getting no tip. Had she given them poor service? Was the food not satisfactory?
The note read: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.”
Morales had been given a clue that this might be one of those tables early on in the night. When she introduced herself, she says she faced a bit of bigotry right out of the gate.
“[I gave the] normal introduction,” she told ABC News. “‘My name is Dayna. I’ll be taking care of you.’ Right away the mom looked at me and said, ‘I thought you were going to say your name was Dan,” Morales reported. This was apparently in reference to the fact that Dayna’s hair is cut short. She never mentioned that she is a lesbian, so the mother simply assumed. “I was rather offended, mad. I didn’t know how to react to that. I never thought that would ever happen,” Morales said.
In a fit of pique, Morales sent a picture of the receipt complete with the note scribbled on it to the “Have a Gay Day” Facebook page. The Internet, in that way it sometimes does, then took over.
The post quickly garnered thousands of shares and hundreds of comments. Nearly all sympathized with Dayna. Many commented on how wrong the family was to have decided to deny her the tip that she had worked hard for. Gradually, an idea formed: to donate $1 to Dayna to make up for the money she lost out on.
“People have sent me tips from all over the world just to show support. I have had people from Germany to South Africa, Australia to the U.K., San Diego, everywhere,” Dayna told CNN. “It wasn’t for the money. I never planned on this. I just wanted to vent. The purpose was to inform people it wasn’t OK.”
Dayna has now received more than $2000, but she’s not keeping all of it. Instead, she has pledged to donate a portion to the Wounded Warriors Project which helps to rehabilitate and empower wounded veterans.
The restaurant, as a matter of their patrons’ privacy, has not revealed the names or identities of the family who refused to tip Dayna. Technically the business probably cannot prevent the family from coming into the restaurant without facing a legal suit. However, Gallop General Manager Byron Lapola is quoted as saying Dayna has the restaurant’s full support:
“Dayna is one of our absolute best servers working here at Gallop. We as a team were deeply hurt by the events that transpired. I myself as the General Manager took it personal as my team treats each other like a family. I made sure that Dayna was compensated for the tip, as for emotionally I wish there was much more I could do.”
Unfortunately, this story is not an isolated incident. In October a waiter from Kansas received a similar note which, while thanking him for his “excellent” service, told him that his being gay was an “affront to God.” The note also contained several anti-gay slurs. The restaurant rallied behind the waiter and his fellow serving staff helped spread the word about the injustice he faced.
What is so edifying about stories like this is that awful cases of public discrimination has been turned into something positive, while also raising awareness that LGBTs still face high levels of prejudice even while just trying to navigate their working lives.
Photo credit: Thinkstock.