Tattered Jeans

How tipping nice changes lives in big and small ways: This ex-waitress has never forgotten her kind tippers

How tipping nice changes lives in big and small ways: Waitresses know

Katie Oxford tips tip jar February 2015
I haven’t forgotten what a tip, large or small, can mean to someone.   Photo by Katie Oxford

Being a waitress isn’t easy. I know from experience. Once, I spilled coffee on a woman who’d decided to leave her coat on at the table. Mink. I was mortified. She, thankfully, was kind. 

Later on, in between other jobs, I’d jump into a tuxedo type looking outfit and work as a server for several caterers in town. Carrying trays wasn’t the hard part. Trying to explain to folks what was on them was. 

In spite of my shortcomings, the tips came, and those tips, especially during Christmas time, helped me pay the bills with money to spare. I haven’t forgotten those nice people or the caterers (A Fare Extraordinaire and Acute Catering), who, thankfully, continued to call. 

 I also haven’t forgotten what a tip, large or small, can mean to someone.  

Until now, I didn’t know that “tips” stands for “To insure proper service.” Obviously, the lady wearing the mink coat ignored this. But, no matter what the books say, tipping’s personal. Private. Between tippee and tipper. Sorta like religion.

I also haven’t forgotten what a tip, large or small, can mean to someone.  

I’ve listened to people’s take on both sides of the equation and what struck me most, whether from the view of the tippee or the tipper, was that everyone spoke with pronounced authority.

At the end of the day, tipping boils down to choice, not necessarily formula. And choosing is what makes the world go around. The act more pleasurable.     

I was remembering all this when about a week ago I had a hankering for Mexican food. At the restaurant, the waiter came up to my table and introduced himself. He was young, neighborly, eager to please, and, it seemed, overloaded. He’d moved to Houston from Arkansas, he said. 

A long time later, the food came but it wasn’t what I ordered. He apologized and quickly scurried off only to return 30 minutes later with something slightly more accurate. I decided to say nothing and leave it alone. Literally. I left the money on top of the bill and headed out the door. 

As I’m backing out of my parking space, I saw the waiter running towards my car, waving money in his hand. “You left this!” he hollered. When I told him I’d meant to, his face and whole body seemed to sag in relief. Seeing that, I realized, was worth the trip.

I’m big on blue-collar workers so I’m partial, but next time you’re feeling put out with someone, consider something my mama used to say. “You never know what’s gone on in someone’s day.”

Waitresses, waiters, car washers, grocery sackers, delivery people, the list could go on, these folks make our lives a little easier. Even, luxurious. Offering a tip, if not for their labor, then for earnest effort, somehow, in a lovely kind of way, helps us too.  

I like this one woman’s take. “Tipping is my tithing.”

ADVERTISEMENT