I don’t believe in tipping; I believe in over-tipping.
I am often described as being “kind,” and I am not sure why that is something to brag about because as my mother raised us kindness was the most basic level of acceptable behavior. One of her many rules-to-live-by was: “The very least you can do is be kind! If I ever hear that you have been unkind to anyone, I will make your sorry!”
And I do attribute my introduction to generosity of spirit to my mother, and like all her lessons it was something I learned through simple observation. One day while we waited in line at the grocery store the woman in front of us was mortified to discover that she had come up short of cash and my mother opened her coin purse and to the embarrassed consternation of the other shopper handed the difference to the cashier.
“There is no shortage of money in the world, Bobby,” she said, snapping her coin purse shut, “but sometimes the cash is not in the right pocket at the right time. When you can, don’t hesitate to make things right.”
I have tried my best to live up to that and have often been blessed with the means to do so.
Which brings me to over-tipping, and here I am guided by the American philosopher, Steve Martin in the movie “My Blue Heaven” in which he plays a New York gangster living under witness protection in San Diego giving advice to his FBI handler.
Exactly. A tip is a duty, a social convention. Over-tipping is a disruptive surprise in the ordinary humdrum day for a restaurant server, Uber driver, or parking lot attendant. How often can you brighten someone’s day for a few bucks when, if you didn’t tip with it, you would probably spend the money something that gave you no pleasure whatsoever?
Back in the good old days, three weeks ago when people dared to do such things I had breakfast at the counter in a small cafe. I paid the $14.00 breakfast bill with a credit card and left a $20 bill in the receipt tray. The waitress walked away with it then returned and asked, “Did you mean to tip $20?”
“I did, indeed.”
“Well bless your heart! You just made my whole week.”
How can you put a price on such a delighted smile?
And that reminds me of this:
My mother inspired constant vigilance
You always had to be alert when you walked passed my mother. She would appear to be lost in her hardback Book of The Month Selection but a hand would snake out and give you a swat on the butt that would send you in a startled dance across the family room.
“That’s for nothing,” she would call out without looking up, “now go do something!”
No matter how old I was my mother always insisted that I kiss her on the cheek before I walked out the door. From time to time our glasses would clash as I bent over her and she always teased me, “Oh! How romantic.” This ritual was a source of intense embarrassment when I was in high school and was leaving the house with my friends, but when she died at the age of 52, I was extremely grateful for that rule.