Wednesday, February 16, 2000

The Classic - from The Washington Times

Waitress Hillary stiffed gets apology but no cash

In Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign, it takes a village to tip a waitress.

Mrs. Clinton called to apologize to the waitress she stiffed at a diner in Albion, N.Y., after she walked out on consuming two breakfasts on the house without leaving a tip.

But she didn't say anything about making it up to her.

Since then, hundreds of residents of the big village called America, on reading about the incident in their newspapers or hearing Jay Leno's jokes about it, have. Tricia "Trish" Trupo, 31, the single mom who waited on the first lady at the Village House Restaurant last week, has received hundreds of dollars in the mail.

Mrs. Trupo, an uninsured mother of an 11-year-old son who earns about $5,000 a year before tips, says Mrs. Clinton's "personal planner" called her Friday to apologize for the first lady after she read about it in The Washington Times. Shortly after that, Mrs. Clinton called herself.

"She apologized for not giving a tip," Mrs. Trupo says. "She said I was a sweetheart." But she didn't say anything about a forthcoming tip. "She didn't offer and I didn't ask." "I work for the waitress wage $2.90 an hour plus your tips."

Basically, you live off your tips. Me and my son have no health insurance at the moment.

"While neither Mrs. Clinton who ate two orders of scrambled eggs, home fries and rye toast at the Village House Restaurant last Tuesday nor any member of her entourage left a tip for the on-the-house meal, supporters have since sent in nearly $600.

Americans from as far away as California and Florida have sent cards and letters with money enclosed mainly $1 bills. Some have enclosed $10 bills.

"A lot of them say, 'You go girl,' " says Mrs. Trupo, 31. "Some of them say, 'Good luck to you and your son. I hope this dollar adds up for you.' " Meanwhile, visitors to a conservative Internet site have sent her more than $500, says Peter W. Kessler of Jupiter, Fla., one of the first people to suggest sending her money.

"I am amazed at the amount, the number of people who have jumped on this," he says.

So far, the waitress, who earns $2.35 less per hour than the current minimum wage, hasn't tallied all the money pouring in, but she has already thought about how best to spend it.

"I'm going to use it for education for my son. Because I'm a single mom and I don't receive child support, this really helps."

The story, first reported in The Washington Times, created a worldwide buzz, appearing in foreign newspapers and becoming fodder for late-night comedians. The word also made it back to Mrs. Clinton's campaign staff.

Mrs. Clinton's "personal planner" called first. Later, the first lady called. "I did not complain. A tip would have been appreciated," Mrs. Trupo says. "If it was myself and someone picked up my check, I would leave a little bit extra."

The next day, when Mrs. Clinton was asked about the tipping incident by a reporter in New York, she said, "That's just another wild story."

Toni McLoom of Carmel, N.Y., who lives about 20 minutes from the Clintons' new $1.7 million home in Westchester County, says she and her husband sent Mrs. Trupo $10 after reading about the tip story on the Internet.

"My heart went out for her," Mrs. McLoom said. She said the other New York Senate candidate New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani knows how to tip.

"Mayor Giuliani's father owned a restaurant. . . . He can relate."

In fact, Mr. Giuliani left a 70 percent tip at a Long Island diner on Monday after the story about Mrs. Clinton's non-tip spread.

Says Mr. Kessler: "I bartended part time for quite a while. I know what it was like to serve drinks all night to the same guy . . . and turn around and see that he is gone and there's not a nickel on the bar," he said.

"All Hillary had to do was say, 'Oh, gee, did somebody think to leave a tip?' That speaks volumes about Hillary Clinton."

Friday, February 11, 2000

from the Washington Times: the first report

via the Drudge Report:

February 11, 2000

It's all the buzz in Albion: Hillary stiffs a single mom

By Barbara J. Saffir


ALBION, N.Y. Maybe it's no big deal elsewhere, but it's all the buzz in Albion.

Hillary Rodham Clinton dropped into the Village House, a favorite diner in this upstate farming town, and ordered two orders of scrambled eggs, home fries and rye toast. So far, so good. The locals appreciate a hearty appetite.

Her breakfast was on the house, and when she left the waitress, a single mom, found not a penny at her plate.

The locals have been talking about little else since Tuesday, when she stopped for breakfast after making a speech about how New York's farmers "are really hurting these days."

Says Linda Ellis, a regular who voted for President Clinton and says she might vote for the first lady: "It's the little things you have to look at in a political campaign."

"She is the first lady, but it doesn't feed her son," she said. The waitress, who makes less than the minimum wage and pays for her own health insurance, deserved a tip, she said.

Mrs. Clinton, who once declared a 15-cent income-tax deduction for a pair of her husband's undershorts that she had donated to charity, had dropped into the diner, halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, along with a dozen reporters in her motorcade.

It was her first public event since beginning her "official" candidacy Sunday at Purchase, N.Y., near her new $1.7 million Westchester County home. Mrs. Clinton, the beneficiary of extensive contributions from unions, is pushing to raise the minimum wage and make health insurance affordable.

"She had two servings of eggs," said restaurant owner Alex Mitrousis. At first, she just ordered oatmeal to go but then she ordered scrambled eggs, home fries and rye toast. After she ate that, she ordered "two scrambled eggs with cheese," he said. "We're going to call it the first lady's special," he said.

One order of "two large fresh eggs" with toast and ham, bacon or sausage costs $2.75.

Mr. Mitrousis, who emigrated to the United States from Greece decades ago, says the first lady's failure to leave a tip does not bother him and that it was "an honor" to have the first lady stop there.

He also noted that he enjoyed the publicity because many customers now ask for the table where Mrs. Clinton sat. He said he lost money during her visit, however, because regular patrons could not get in to the packed parking lot near the intersection of routes 31 and 98.

Mr. Mitrousis said he did not charge Mrs. Clinton for the food she ordered herself during her visit with more than a dozen reporters and photographers in tow.

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson had no comment.