Seeing yet another “tip jar” in some establishment is enough to make me want to boycott that business. Being served at a table is one thing, but feeling obligating to tip when you go through a drive through, or when you go to a counter to order is pushing the limits of what you are asking the customer to do.

One of my jobs involves busing tables and doing some clean up in a hotel. Tipping is NOT requested, nor expected (at least, I never expected it). We aren’t taking orders or bringing food to the table. Guests serve themselves from a buffet.

This morning at work, I was feeling a bit frustrated in dealing with the fast pace of the job, especially with one person short on our shift and the manager on duty having obligations in another part of the hotel. Towards the end of the shift, I received a $5 tip from a man whom I’d helped earlier. (He showed up after breakfast had ended with his two sons. They got drinks from the soda machine which is open all the time and I got the feeling they were hoping that food was still available. I was able to catch his attention before he left and tell him that we make up plates for latecomers and that he was welcome to them. I also went to the kitchen and got a couple blueberry muffins and doughnuts for them. The boys’ eyes lit up. Just a kind, sweet, polite family. They were a joy to serve).

After thanking him, I went back to my sweeping. I lost my battle in the fight to hold back tears, I was so touched by his kindness. Thankfully, I was in a quiet corner working and I don’t think anyone could see me.

After this morning, I still don’t want to see a tip jar, and I still don’t agree with establishments putting them out. However, now more than ever, I see what the gesture of a small tip can do to lighten someone’s mood and lift her spirits.

Whether someone is rude, coldly polite, or full of warm smiles, we never really know what another person is dealing with in his or her life.

patricia grace