This afternoon, my husband reminded me that he has a function to attend tonight and that I should plan to pick up dinner for myself. I went to the market and walked around aimlessly. There were folks buying turkeys and pumpkin pies, saying Merry Christmas to everyone they met. Then I rounded a corner and saw two women… one a senior citizen and the other much younger, sitting on a display of cat treats. They sat close together and were speaking quietly. My eyes welled with tears… because I realized how much I miss my grandmother. I’ve mentioned her before. She was my closest friend throughout my life, clear into my late 30’s. By then, she was beginning to show signs of dementia. It was hard going for everyone after that, until her death in the mid-2000’s. I miss her. Sometimes it hits me hard, like today.
I should say, I’m generally just not in a great mood. It’s the season. It’s cold and slushy, right around the corner from Christmas, where once again, I don’t get to be with my family. Nobody’s “fault” … as if blame needs to be assigned. But I digress.
I picked up a carton of cream and decided I’d go across the street to get some soup at the coffee place after I bought it. At the checkout, they had filled bags for the donation bin up front. I bought a $5 bag, which held pasta, sauce, beans and cookies. Not very much for a meal… but it’s something for a person who might not have anything otherwise. That made me feel better.
Then across the street, I got my soup and coffee. The total was six dollars and change. I gave the girl a $10 bill. She gave me back three dollars and change… and as I held it in my hand… something prompted me to just give it back. “Put this in your tip jar,” I said.
Do you know what she did?
She stood there at the window… and then a tear fell down her cheek. “Thank you,” she said, as she turned away.
I don’t share this with you to say how good I am. It’s not about me at all. It’s really very selfish, this wanting to make others feel good and getting a feel-good in return.
I actually wrote about this last year in another blog – on another post. The blog itself is in blog heaven, may it rest in peace, along with my other dozen blogs I’ve created over the years…. but there I go, digressing again. Point is, I’d like to share it with you. I saved the post in a word document.
The first thing I notice is that it was written at this time of year. Clearly, I have issues with winter. But I think I’ve figured out one way to rise above my gloominess and depression.
As I was driving to work this morning… in sub zero temps… with less than 1/4 tank of gas… praying that I would get to the gas station before I ran out (which is funny since I have never, ever run out of gas – as in never, ever!)… I thought that anyone else would stop at one of the zillion gas stations along the way. Not me, though… I go to… shhhhhh… full serve. I know, I know… lazy… but that’s not it… honest! I just plain like it. I like that I don’t have to get out of the car, put my hands on the grimy nozzle, spill gas on my shoe or twist the gas cap just right. And guess what I do to ensure that my experience is all-around great? I tip the guy (or gal) who does the dirty work for me! I’m a tipper. I’m not necessarily the biggest tipper you know, though I might be, but I’m certainly the most frequent.
When the gas is pumped… and they come to me for payment, I always say, “Thank you for pumping my gas so I didn’t have to in the cold (or heat) “… and today, after I said that… the guy took my hand and said, “Thank you – and have a very good day!”… and this isn’t the first time it’s happened like that. Many, many times, I’ve had someone pump my gas with nary a grin and after I give them a tip, they smile, say thank you like they’re on candid camera or something… like, is this real?… literally. There are only three full service stations that I know of between my house and work… I’ve looked high and low… and I go to the one by work most of all. It’s a little treat for myself – both the gas and the tip, because I always leave feeling better about myself than before I stopped.
When I first came to Canada, I couldn’t work… not for three long years. My education and work experience meant diddly-squat when I went out looking for employment in my field (education of students with disabilities) and I’ve always believed that any work is viable, honorable work… so I took what I could get. What I got was Donut Diner, where I was chief bottle washer, egg cooker, coffee maker and toilet scrubber – and yes, all at the same time – and ALL BY MYSELF. I would make full breakfasts for families who thought nothing of throwing their napkins on the floor, making a mess and leaving me with nothing – NOTHING – after cooking, serving and smiling. But while I can’t tell you the specifics about any of those people… I *can* tell you the specifics about a girl who dropped by. She was around 25. She was alone. Her hair was brown and she wore a sun hat. She asked for breakfast. She ate it, quietly and neatly, and read a book while she ate. Then she left. When I went to clean her table, there was a toonie ($2) and a note that said, “Thank you. You made my day! Have a good one!” And you know, I DID. Her note sustained me when others stiffed me or left a penny on the counter. It’s been 9 or 10 years, and I still remember her. And I’m smiling right now as I type this.
Ah, again… a legacy… cuz my guess is that this girl does this kind of thing with lots of people. Just like I do… oh my gosh, I hope I make people feel as good as she made me feel…
This isn’t meant to shame anyone who doesn’t tip… though if you don’t and I find out… I reserve the right not to like you anymore. It seems like such common courtesy to me. People in service jobs, at least around here, make less than the minimum wage to allow for the tips, though what’s so great about a tip of you can’t even live off the wage? Sheesh.
Annnyway… this is my message today… give a tip to someone unexpected… who does something nice for you… even if it is a part of their job… it will make them feel better. And you!