1) How much in tips, at what kind of place, would it be realistic for a character to earn in these two scenarios? I can find information on base salary, but I'm not so sure about what the tips would really be like.
- Lunch shift, moderately nice restaurant frequented by local businesspeople, mid-sized city.
- Dinner shift at a local small-town diner.
2) Would it be realistically possible for the small-town diner waitress to get away with NOT reporting some of her tips, and conceal, say, 5 or 10 dollars a night? (This character having money that nobody knows about is fairly critical to the plot, but I don't want her doing anything like prostitution or dealing drugs, and she cannot just steal it from her family. Being a tipped employee who didn't report some of her tips seemed like the best solution.)
3) If you're changing jobs because, say, you've moved, would you look to work for the same sort of restaurant you had before, or would it be possible to "move up" to a different/nicer place or whatever?
And now for something completely different:
4) This character is 18 (thus a legal adult) and running away from home. She does NOT have a driver's license or learner's permit, because her parents would not allow it. She also has no passport and no access to her birth certificate or her Social Security card. What are some things she could reasonably have when she leaves home that would help her get her hands on those identifying doucments so she can do things like work?