Thursday, September 08, 2005

Leaving an extra tip

On Wed. nights we usually go to a local microbrew pub for dinner. It's sort of a replacement for our old Wed. night haunt which was a hole in the wall clam shack.

We had the same waitress last night that we've had two or three times before, and she was making small talk with us about the clientele. She had three young kids, ages 2, 4 and 5 and was going to school to be a nurse, but just wasn't making ends meet without this job. She was tired... and it was late, but she was still cheerful. My order ended up getting botched beyond all belief by the bartender and the kitchen, but I didn't say anything because I know a lot of restaurants run the "screw ups" through the waitstaff's tips. And I know that for those people, every cent counts.

Michael mentioned it to her in passing after we got our check, and she got upset that we hadn't said anything. I told her that I'm just not the kind of person who sends food back. I was too poor growing up, and I didn't want it to be just thrown out. What I got was fine, it wasn't what I wanted, but it was still good.

She sighed, and said - "but you see - the customer is always right. Always right, except for one that is. " She told us about one guy who came in and told her she was hot. She said thank you for the compliment and went about her business. He asked her about what she did, why she worked there, and she said with three hungry kids it was kind of hard to make ends meet. He stopped her, and said, "Don't you want to make money?" She replied, "Of course I do." He retorted, "Then don't ever talk about your kids - because knowing that you've got rugrats just completely ruins your attractiveness." He skipped her tip because she had kids. Not because the service was bad, not because he was unhappy with the food, but because he found out she had kids.

I don't know if it was the giant beer or what, but I got all teary eyed at the table and told her... "from someone who has been trying for two years for a baby, don't ever let someone sell your kids short."

She looked at me and said, "No one will ever tell me not to talk about my kids. No one. They are the reason I get up every morning."

I have no idea what made me open up like that to such a complete stranger. At first she kidded around with the "well, my kids can visit anytime" schtick, and then just looked at us, and said - "I'm so sorry. That must be so hard."

She took my food off the check, so we ended up leaving a tip that was far more than the bill. It wasn't much, but I know that the money meant more to her than it did to me.

I also know that if I'm lucky enough to have kids someday, they will be that important to me.


At 3:13 PM, Anonymous b said...

What a great story. Thank you for sharing that.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Erin said...

You're my hero.

There are not enough people in this world, and especially in our profession that truly understand what it means to not have enough.

Great Story.


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