I work in a popular chain restaurant in Stirling city centre. Like many students, I work part-time, for minimum wage. For a 21 year old like myself, that is £7.38 an hour.
I therefore rely heavily on tips to buy petrol, my weekly food shop, and so on. In short, I am completely dependent on the kindness of strangers to see myself from week to week. SAAS only goes so far.
On Friday evening I started my shift as normal. There were a few tables filing in, and a stack of spoons waiting to be polished.
That was when Stephen Kerr, Stirling’s Member of Parliament, walked in with a couple of companions for a private dinner. I was the waiter in charge of their table.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am not an entitled individual. I also do not think I am owed anything, especially not from strangers who are just trying to enjoy a Friday night munch.
In saying that, however, the basic wage for an MP is £77,379. In context, that is sixteen times the minimum student loan in Scotland, and more than three times the salary of a staff nurse.
They did not spend an awful lot of money. As I recall, the bill came to about fifty pounds. Kerr had a bacon cheeseburger and a soft drink of some sorts. Their clear plates suggested an enjoyable meal, or perhaps just immense hunger.
I was friendly and courteous, and in my opinion, I could not have done more to give them an enjoyable eating experience.
As their meeting came to an end, they left swiftly and in good spirits. Kerr left first, followed by his friends who paid the bill. When I went over to the table to clean it and prepare it for the next customers, I was disappointed to discover that they left no tip. Not a penny.
Personally, unless I receive shocking service and inedible food, I will always leave a ten per cent tip because I know how hard waiting staff work for their money.
It is worth noting that less than two years ago, Stephen Kerr, along with hundreds of his Conservative colleagues, voted to give themselves a pay rise. In a time where public services are being cut and wages are being frozen, I find this alarming.
Stephen Kerr can certainly afford to leave a couple of pounds for a minimum wage earner. That evening, he probably didn’t realise I was a student, or that I knew him.
However, as an elected representative for the area on a generous wage, I think that he would do well to show some appreciation to those working at the bottom of the food chain.
Brig contacted Stephen Kerr for a response. A spokesperson declined to comment, as it was a private dinner.