I have a night job where I work for tips, giving me a pretty decent work out and it’s lot of fun to boot. I’m unique in that I am the oldest guy on the crew – by at least 20 years! Which means that I am surrounded by lots of irreverent, profane, high energy and fairly cocky young folk. Pretty much all of them do a great job and can run rings around the Old Man but, hey, I’m an old man. What do you expect?
One thing that hasn’t changed with tipped employees over the years is a tendency towards a creeping cynicism for their customers. Like a bad car salesman, they continue to run through the same old drill of pre-qualifying their customers, gaging their take by scrutinizing their guests; demographics, dress, diction, manners, attitude, etc. Being a wise old fellow I will counsel my young friends as to the perils of doing this; just as Tiger Woods must visualize the ball dropping into the cup, so should we visualize the guest dropping a C-note onto our tip trays. Doesn’t usually happen but what the heck. If you visualize getting stiffed it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; your service will suffer and the average guest can sense the shift in your demeanor as well.
I even go so far as to never look at my tips until I’ve collected all the check presenters. I don’t want to know which person stiffed me or which one only left me only a couple of bucks. This way I can leave feeling good about all of my guests. After all, who knows what financial straights they may be in? I’ve been there myself. (Heck, I ain’t moonlighting entirely for fun.)
The other night was pretty typical; some nice tips, some average and a couple of small ones. One party left me nothing (but I don’t’ know which one). Something different happened that evening as well. Someone (probably short on cash) left me with a Home Depot gift card. I have to admit to being wryly amused. Sharing this with the crew most of them didn’t see anything too funny about it- probably only had a dollar or two on it. In fact most of the them thought it was tacky, indicative of someone too cheap to leave any cash. I figured, what the heck, at least I could pick up a new drill bit (maybe).
Boy was I surprised when the clerk at Home Depot told me that there was $66.63 on the card! I was able to get that new Black and Decker drill that I had been eying as well as a power screwdriver. Not too shabby. Thanks, mystery guest. I’ll remember you every time I put a hole into something with my new toy.
So, what’s my point? It just doesn’t pay to allow yourself to judge others. Aside from the times we are wrong (oh, so many times that is) what is there to gain from it? Who needs the bad vibes? So I would recommend not only doing but actually seeing others as you would have them see you. It might actually happen.