I recently had a small bite to eat in a restaurant in London. Having travelled in the US extensively, I have gotten used to tipping religiously and always get confused about different tipping rules in other countries. As the waiter charged my credit card, I told him to add two pounds as a tip. He replied that he could only charge the credit card with the exact amount of the check, but that I was of course welcome to leave a tip in cash. As I put two one-pound coins into the little bowl in which he had brought the check, I saw that ‘12% gratuity included’ was printed on the receipt.
I stalled and noticed how anger flared up in me and one of my selves called out, ‘He is screwing you over. I can’t believe he didn’t tell you that tip is already included. He did this on purpose, because you are a foreigner, and he probably figured you don’t know any better! Take the money out of the bowl and walk away.’ As soon as I thought that, I noticed another emotion: embarrassment. Another part of me exclaimed ‘how stupid will you look if you claw the two pound coins from the bowl? What will people think of you? Do you have no self-respect?!’ Slightly amused by the intensity with which my two parts battled over the two-pound tip, suddenly it occurred to me: I don’t have to think that. Any of it. With this insight, I relaxed and from the quietness, another line of thinking emerged; I realized that whatever the waiter earned an hour, it would likely not be very much and that my two-pound tip on top of the included gratuity would probably be more than welcome. My anger instantly softened and so did my embarrassment.
When the waiter returned to my table, he pointed at the bowl and asked, ‘Can I take this away?’
I smiled at him and said from the bottom of my heart, ‘With pleasure!’
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