I waited tables and worked retail for years throughout high school, college and graduate school to support myself. I learned so many valuable lessons working in those places, and I’m a generous tipper as a result. You’d have to spill hot soup in my lap and then laugh at my anguish to earn less than 20%.
Office workers work hard, but we also tend to be much better rewarded, garner valuable benefits, and our fatigue comes mostly from mental exertion.
Minimum wage service workers are frequently. supporting families on poverty-level incomes, sometimes as single parents, and often it’s not their only job. They come home bone-weary tired. They are often subjected to rude and dehumanizing treatment — and sometimes harassment — by those they serve. And the best ones do it all with a smile.
The next time you are given great service in a minimum wage type establishment as I was today at Eggs N Things in Valencia, CA, take a moment and write a small note on your check to say, “Thank you for the lovely service.”
And if you can afford it, no matter how small the bill — mine was only $16 — restore a little bit of faith in humanity and drop an extra $20 in cash along with your payment and standard 20% tip. You don’t have to stick around for any expression of gratitude or awkward concern that it might be a mistake. Just drop it and leave.
The money is great, but it’s really about letting that service worker know they’ve been seen, that they matter, and that their work is valued. You’ll feel as good as the server will, I promise. Tag your story with #giveanextra20. I want to hear all about it!
And of course, as we leave a little extra on the table, we all need to continue to lobby our elected officials to ensure the minimum wage tracks with cost of living, that the working poor are giving all the assistance they need and deserve, etc etc etc. But in the mean time, this is a small but meaningful thing you can do now, TODAY, to let our fellow citizens know that we see them, that we care.
P.S. Looking forward to one day when hopefully we have Harriet Tubman in the $20!