For the millionth time: Stories about outrageously rude customers scribbling racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, etc., messages on store receipts are almost always fake. Stop falling for them.

You’d think newsrooms would catch on by now that these stories are more likely to be false than true. But you’d be wrong.

The latest iteration of this stupid trend story comes from Odessa, Texas, where Khalil Cavil, 20, claimed on July 16 that a table he served not only stiffed him on a $108 tab, but that they also left him an ugly note on the bill that read, “We don’t tip terrorist.”

“At the moment I didn’t know what to think nor what to say, I was sick to my stomach,” Cavil wrote on Facebook. “I share this because I want people to understand that this racism, and this hatred still exists. Although, this is nothing new, it is still something that will test your faith. All day I’ve had to remind myself that Jesus died for these people too.”

He added, “It’s not about them, and it’s not about me. It’s about this hatred that is still going on, that is still here and prevalent. I just wanted people to understand that.”


The restaurant responded immediately by banning the supposedly offending customers. Online well-wishers also raised roughly $1,000 for Cavil.

Media soon sprang into action, with major newsrooms, including the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, the New York Post, and CBS News, reporting the alleged incident uncritically.

This is all unfortunate considering the entire story is a lie, according to Cavil.

“I did lie to you,” he said this week in a statement to the Odessa American, which first broke the story.

Cavil added, “I did write it. I don’t have an explanation. I made a mistake. There is no excuse for what I did. I’m sorry. I deeply made a huge, big mistake. And I’m in the process of getting the help that I need.”

He has been fired from his server gig, the Odessa American reports.

This story and its outcome are about as shocking and disturbing as the last time someone lied about receiving a nasty note from customers. We’ve been down this road before.

In 2012, for example, a blogger claimed a banker left a measly one percent tip on a $133 bill with the accompanying note: “Get a real job.” Media went crazy. It was a lie.

In 2013, Dayna Morales said a family stiffed her, and that they left her a note reading, "Sorry, I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life." Media went crazy. It was a lie.

In 2017, a Virginia waitress claimed she was also stiffed, and that her table left a note that read, "Great service, don’t tip black people.” Media went crazy. Her story is almost certainly a lie.

Why newsrooms keep falling for this routine is anyone’s guess. I suppose those outrage clicks are just too good to pass up.