We scheduled a birthday celebration at a local restaurant. To make things easier for the server and as a treat to those attending I had them put everything on one bill and given to me.
We were a large party. And loud. And fun. And messy.
When we finished we stacked dishes. We picked up trash. We condensed the mess as much as we could.
After paying the bill I handed the tip directly to our server. As is my custom after having others tell me tales of tips being stolen or lost in dishes. I know my dad used to fold up tips and hide them, at the time, as a child I thought it was cute. I wonder how many tips are lying in trash dumps somewhere. And how many servers were left grumpy thinking they weren’t appreciated.
This time was a first for me. I handed her the tip and before I could take my leave she looked down and noticed the amount of the tip. It was folded but she still saw and for whatever reason, couldn’t contain, or retain, her feelings. She burst in to tears.
And tried to give it back to me.
I was startled. I’ve never had that happen. The tears, or the trying to give it back to me.
I put my hand on her outstretched hand and pushed it back to her and told her she deserved it and thanked her for her wonderful service.
She couldn’t stop the tears. And I didn’t want to pry. Having been to the establishment numerous times I knew she had a young child. But I can only surmise that the tip may have been unexpected but greatly appreciated. For whatever reason. Maybe she needed diapers? Or formula? Or maybe she was just exhausted and worn out and a kindness extended to her or a recognition of her work was a reason to just let go for a moment.
It was just a tip.
But maybe it was more than that to her.
There’s always more to the person we see serving us.