The Kindness Litmus: How You Treat Your Waitress

In reply to WP Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness

Tell us about the time when you performed a secret random act of kindness — where the recipient of your kindness never found out about your good deed. How did the deed go down?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SECRET.



Being that I'm selfish and brain-dead today, and can only think of one random act of kindness where I left a friend-in-need some anonymous money, I decided to take this in a different direction. I would define tipping your waitress as the perfect example of a secret random act of kindness, since we usually don't know our server personally, and they don't know us. I have been a waitress at several restaurants, at various times in my life (although I'm not anymore). I actually really loved it, and for the most part, I loved the people I waited on. But being a waitress also gave me a unique opportunity to gain some insights into humanity - or some people's lack of it. Serving the hungry public puts you in direct contact with society's grumpiest, demanding, and arrogant animals. I've decided to speak up for all of the forgotten waitresses out there, who have been looked over by the customer-elite. I don't buy the slogan "The customer is always right", because usually they aren't. Usually they don't have a clue, and then the server has to pay the price for their "rightness". To me, how you treat your waitress is the ultimate litmus-test of a person's true level of kindness and consideration for others.


The meanest person I've ever known was horrible to waitresses. It was embarrassing to be at his table. But I'd like to tell you a story of a less-obvious offender. It's a story my husband just shared with me, after a recent trip that he took with two of his brothers. While on this trip, one brother ran into a homeless man on the street, who told him this elaborate story about why he needed $20.  The brother fell for the man's tall-tale, and gave him the money. Now, I'm glad the homeless man got the money. I'm sure he needed it - although not for the reasons that his story would have lead a person to believe. I'm sure this brother would have given him the money without the guy's elaborate story. And I'm sure that giving out of the kindness of his heart would have been much more satisfying, than giving because of feeling manipulated. But either way, the homeless man got his much-needed money. This brother is obviously kind and giving, which makes the next part of the story so ironic. Let me explain...


Fast-forward to breakfast the next day. The 3 brothers, as well as their aunt and uncle, went out for breakfast. This same charitable brother offered to pay for everyone's meal. Their aunt and uncle had already eaten, so they didn't order anything. The bill was pretty low (since only 3 of the 5 had ordered), but they also stayed there for a really long time - chatting and catching up. They were there for nearly 2.5 hours! That's 2.5 hours of that server's time and attention. 2.5 hours of using one of her tables - a table which could have been occupied at least once, if not twice, with other paying customers. This brother paid the bill, and left her a $5 tip - not even 20% of the total. It struck me as so twisted that the person who was so kind and considerate to a homeless man, was not so kind or considerate to his waitress. Both of them, whether we like it or not, are dependent on the charity of strangers to get by. This brother, who gullibly believed the homeless man's ploy to get his $20, also gullibly believed that the waitress didn't deserve her 20%. I'm going to give this brother the benefit-of-the-doubt. Maybe he's just really bad at math, ha ha! But I'm sure it was done out of ignorance, more than anything. It does show where waitresses rank in the scheme of things, in some people's minds.


Far too often, servers are left to clean up the messes of the thankless public - especially the ones who mistake the term "server" for "servant". Yes, being a server can be a lowly job - if a customer decides to make it lowly. The next time you don't want to leave a tip because your food wasn't prepared correctly, or because the meal didn't get there on time - consider the fact that the cook, who prepared that bad food in an untimely fashion, is still being paid his salary - which is way more than the $3 or $4 that your server makes per hour. That cook, who actually ruined the meal, will never be affected by the insulting tip you leave for his messenger, to punish his mistake. 95% of the reasons that people give for leaving a less-than-adequate tip are beyond the waitress's control. Like it or not - your tips are their income - not just an extra bonus to an adequate paycheck.


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