The Good Server

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.

42 thoughts on “The Good Server

  1. God really does work in mysterious ways. Here you were just trying to leave a tip. You had NO idea how much your generosity would bless this mother.

    Also, might this birthday dinner have to something to do with your big day, Colleen?? 🙂


  2. My daughter has a part time job waitressing. She often remarks on different types of people who tip. Some are so generous and yet have asked her for very little all night,,as in your case you stacked the dishes and did your best to help, but leave a large tip. Sometimes she says that a group at a table can be so demanding and she is running after them all night and they may not even leave any tip. She also says some older people don’t really get how times have changed and they come looking for her and press a €2 coin into her hand. I know for my daughter those tips are so very valuable, as they are helping her, and us, get her through college.
    I too am wondering was it your birthday?


    • No, it was my husband’s birthday.

      I remember when my daughter started working in a fast food place how she would tell me about the way people treated her. Some nights she came home crying because of the horrid behavior. She didn’t get tips there, but the kindness others showed her made a difference for her and stuck out more than the horrid ones. I always remember that when someone is waiting on me, that they are somebody’s child, mother, brother, father-trying to get through a day.


      • I remember years ago one of my older sisters was a very cranky, grumpy individual. My brother and I were out with my mum and dad in a cafe one afternoon and the waitress came to us. She was chewing gum and looked so sulky. All she said was “Ye?” when she wanted our order. When she went away my Dad and Mum broke their hearts laughing and said “who would that remind you of”. As a result despite her awful manner they tipped her! 🙂


  3. Colleen, When I was a kid one of my 1st jobs was as a dish washer at a country club. I never even got to bus the tables. But the senior server once had a conversation with me that has worked for me for the last 50 years. I have sure you have been graced with unexpected thanks in the past, any you will again in the future. You did very well that evening, and you will never be forgotten or lack for good service. Take care, Bill.


    • Thanks Bill, we have seen some servers get treated pretty badly, and on the flip side, some servers who haven’t been the “best”. But we always try to remember that we don’t everyone’s story. We’ve been very lucky and have had wonderful interactions with many servers. I can’t recall any horror stories off the top of my head. I love it when experience tries to help the newbies, in any field. I’ve had those discussions as well and also benefited.


  4. I have a friend who no longer donates to charities. Instead he and hi wife overtip whenever they eat out. They reason that way they are giving money directly to people who are busting there butt trying to take care of themselves.


  5. God bless you, Colleen. If ever I’m in the US and handing over a tip, I’ll be sure to give it to the one I intend it for. I didn’t know about that – & I agree many could accidentally end up in dumpsters.

    Whatever it was that it meant so much to her, just wonderful you delivered it. xx Kisses to you for that, knowing myself how much relief it can be 🙂


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