Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The biggest tip I ever saw my father leave was probably the least deserved

    My father, Sidney Hurdle, died just over a year ago. In the weeks after his death I shared a number of stories about him or the things he told me.
    Recently we went through Dad's desk and started the job of cleaning out his office. He had not been in it for several years before his death; the stairs were too much for him. And so the office has been just as he left it four or five years ago.
    I found some interesting things, some of which I will share over the next few weeks. But I saw something while cleaning that made me remember the biggest tip, by percentage, that I ever saw my dad leave at a restaurant.
    Dad wasn't much of a tipper. He felt 10 percent was something rewarded for good service. He grudgingly would leave 15 percent on occasion. Today we've been browbeaten into leaving 20 percent for lackadaisical service, but not my dad.
    I believe the year was 1994. My brother Mike and I were with Dad in Vincennes, Ind., where the Peabody Coal Company was auctioning off substantial blocks of reclaimed coal land.
    The sale was held in a conference room at the local Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn chain has improved in recent years, but at the time most Holiday Inns had restaurants that set the standard for mediocrity. We chose to eat in said restaurant.
    We were seated at one of two occupied tables in the large restaurant, and the people at the other table seemed to be just drinking coffee. There was one waitress, a rather large woman who huffed and puffed around as if walking from the kitchen to the table was an unreasonable job demand. The food was poor and the service awful. Our waitress explained the poor service by complaining that her employer had just forced her to take a room service order to a guest. The horrors!
    After a long delay the waitress finally brought our soup out with no spoons. We had teaspoons at the table, but naturally we wanted soup spoons. She told us they didn't have any and shambled away. As soon as she was gone we all muttered to each other that we were certain they had soup spoons, but felt the waitress just didn't want to expend the effort to walk across the restaurant to get them.
    I can't remember our total bill; I'm sure it was less than $20. Dad laid down $25 in cash and we hit the exit. Mike and I immediately demanded to know why a man who hates to tip left more than a 25 percent tip for terrible service. We were both of the opinion that the woman didn't deserve a dime.
    Dad's response was as follows: "Based on the service we just had, that may be the only tip she gets today. She's probably got children at home. They need it."
    I'm not sure it makes much sense to tip extra for really poor service, but that was my dad's policy.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Mathew 20:9-15


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