Our Place Restaurant in Mansfield, Texas, recently posted a surveillance video that showed a young customer taking a five-dollar bill left on the table by a previous customer and hiding it under her children’s menu. As Fox4 in North Texas reports, the video “generated a lot of response, and the tip money was even returned.”
Our Place owner Benji Arslanovski is known for his hyper vigilance via security cameras at his restaurant. He previously posted a video of two women in line to pay their bill and then walking out, right before Thanksgiving. Those women were not discovered, but the child who took the $5 was. He tells Fox, “That’s the only tool we have to catch those people. So we’re going to use it. It’s not okay, but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt to make it right. Our rule is if you come pay for it today or the next day, we’ll take the video off.”
The owner also gave the server—who, as he points out, is pregnant and has two kids—the missing $5 from his own wallet. Once the money was returned, per Arslanovski’s own rules, he took the video down.
A story like this doesn’t have a clear hero or villain—much like real life. I see a number of sides here. Obviously, stealing is wrong, don’t do it. But I remember taking my kids to a diner when they were small and having to explain repeatedly that the money magically left on the table was not for them. It’s hard to tell how old the girl in the video is (pretty young, I’m guessing, if she’s still on a kids’ menu), but I can easily see how one of my kids could have pulled this off while I was grabbing hand wipes out of my bag or something, leading us to get featured on a viral video. I’m sure that mom is beyond mortified, which seems like an excessive punishment for $5.
On the other hand, surveillance cameras and phones are everywhere nowadays. If you’re the kind of (adult) jerk who swipes tips or dines and ditches, you’re bound to get caught. Particularly if you frequent Our Place Restaurant in Mansfield, Texas.
On my third hand, shaming a child and her family on social media for what could be an honest mistake? Seems pretty harsh, Our Place.