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Waitress Serves Sour Grapes on Facebook, Gets Fired

Here we go again. The intertwined world of social networks has led to another off-the-keyboard incident in someone's actual, non-virtual life. A 22-year-old waitress in North Carolina has been fired from her job at a Charlotte restaurant because of, yes, a facebook post.

We've already seen NFL players reprimanded for "inappropriate tweeting" (see Antonio Cromartie , former San Diego Chargers cornerback, now a NY Jet), and countless other stories of everyday American's axed on account of a quip via qwerty keyboard.

But in the case of waitress Ashley Johnson, I've got to come to her defense on this one. The story goes: Johnson's shift was essentially over, but a couple camped out at one of her table for three hours. It's customary in the restaurant world for servers to remain "on the floor" until all of his or her guests have paid up and taken off - even if that means the server isn't taking any more tables. Even after the duo lingered, keeping Johnson at work for extra time - they tipped a measly five dollars. Johnson vented about their inconsiderateness on her facebook profile - mentioning the restaurant by name, and was subsequently fired by her employer.

As a former longtime restaurant worker myself (with an extensive knowledge of ramekins, chafing dishes, four-tops, and the differences between the Aloha and Micros restaurant computer systems - knowledge now useful for not much, other than this blog post), I feel like I can at least weigh in.

Now, I haven't seen Ashley's facebook post myself - so it's hard to pass complete judgment here. Is facebook an appropriate setting to vent about your life's daily trials and tribulations? I think so. Should Ashley have mentioned the restaurant, and the place of her employment, by name? Probably not. But should the lingering couple have dropped a "Lincoln" for their 3+ hour stay? Absolutely not. Yet, many of the comments on CBSNews.com are calling Johnson a complainer, saying she got what she deserved. I'm here to say - we're forgetting a few things here people.

I checked out Brixx Pizza's menu online (Ashley's former place of employment), and it doesn't seem like the most exclusive place, even for Charlotte. A few rounds of drinks and food for two probably add up to something like $50 to $60 dollars. Now, not only is five dollars on fifty a downright awful tip - but in this former bartender/former busboy/former server's opinion, said couple had zero regard for Johnson not only as a server, but also as a human being. First of all, Ashley probably makes something like $2.63 an hour - not a wage you or I can live on. And secondly, a note to restaurant goers: if you see your server is finished attending to other tables, or is persistently watching you like a hawk from the side of the room with fingers crossed that you're getting ready to get up and leave, ask if their shift is over and if they'd like you to settle up, and get the rest of your drinks from the bar or another server. It's a courteous and human thing to do - and trust me, it will be appreciated. Plus, you can consider it your good deed for the day. Now don't get me wrong, a paying customer is absolutely entitled to stay at bar or restaurant as long as they'd like - but, it's frowned upon in the restaurant business for a server to come and say "hey guys, my shift is over, and I can't take any more tables ... mind if I close you out?" - so do it for them. (Not to say those exact words didn't come out of my mouth more often than not on a Friday or Saturday shift in my day. Sorry if that was you.)

Lastly, keep in mind - many of our restaurant workers are doing their jobs not because they love it, but to pay the bills. Just like the rest of us. And in Ashley's case, she's more than likely a 22 year old with little job experience, taking whatever she can get in this terrible job market. Give her a break.

Restaurant etiquette aside though, above all else let this be another example of why you should keep your facebook profile as private as possible - never know, your next wallpost could be a pink slip.

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