“The Banker” sat there with a smug look of superiority. Dressed for success, whatever that was in his mind. In reality he was no different than the rest of us. He snapped orders to the waitiress. “Bring me my bill, I have an important meeting to go to.” Wanker, I thought.
A Rastafarian with dreadlocks sat to his left while the executive to his right finished up a call on the cell phone. I could see by the way he looked at them both – down to the left and up to the right – where his perceived values where. The waitress was a hippy in disguise – she dressed the part but was still holding onto her identity with the silver rings and a subtle hairpiece. It was no biggie from most everyone's view; she was fast, efficient and friendly, and had another round of drinks on every table with a smile, even before anyone hit bottom.
I hear her talking to the executive about her “home” on Saltspring Island. He had asked where she was from as he was making Valentines day plans for him and his wife and wanted her input on where to go. He was making conversation, but he was genuinely interested in what she had to say.
Next she was giving tips to the Rastafarian as to where to go to stretch his budget longer during his trip out west. “Come to Saltstpring,” she coaxed. “My boyfriend needs some help with is landscaping business this month, it can get you some extra cash to keep you traveling.”
I had the same order as the Banker for lunch, so I knew what it cost. He counted his bills out, adding some small change as an afterthought. It was a shitty tip, there was no question about it. I could tell by her expression she was disappointed, and rightly so. I so wanted to say “Dude, 7% when the food was good and the service was beyond great isn’t cool. If you’re that cheap don’t’ wear a Tag Heuer and go to McDonalds instead.”
Most (read: all) of the time still I dress like a student. I will cave, when needed at work to ensure proper representation for the firm for visitors or meetings, but that’s really it. Some blame it on my inner need to hold onto my academic utopian fantasies but in reality utopian is comfortable! Shorts, hikers and t-shirt – sun or rain, day or night. In winter I add a hoodie or a biking rain jacket but that’s as far as I go to dress for success. What can I say: I am me.
I could see she didn’t expect a large tip from the dreadlocked gal, or the semi-homeless guy in the corner, but nonetheless she treated us all the same: amazing service with a great Julia Roberts smile.
“What a prick” I said to her as she brought me another refill. Coke with a wedge of lime. Bring me that again without asking and you’re in line for a great tip, regardless of the rest of the service.
“Yeah, well in my experience some people just dress the part but their personality can’t keep pace with their outward projections. Too many of those downtown to worry about…” she trailed off. “Whatever. Not worth worrying about. Have a great day.”
As I paid my bill and departed I left a good tip. It was the best service I had in a long time, but for her it was what she gave to everyone, regardless of how they carried themselves. As I headed out the door she must have saw her tip because she turned back and mouthed “thanks” from across the restaurant. She then flashed a Julia Roberts smile that Ed would have been jealous of (More reasons to visit more Ed!).
Four visual walks of life intersecting at a bistro: The Executive, The Rastafarian, The Student and The Banker. In a picture you would never guess which one was rude, cheap and artificially inflated with self importance.
"Perception is reality" I always say.This leads me to today’s lesson: Perception may be based in reality, but don’t serve all your judgments on it or you’ll get a shitty tip in life. The waitress understood that and got good tips in the form of conversation and cash from the unexpected that day.
So, have a nice day and y'all come back now.
…and for this post only, the comment box will act as the tip box of the blog ;)