Tipping the scales of generosity
When and how do we teach our children to be generous?
This is a question that's been bugging me for a couple of weeks now. Remember in the olden days when we were kids, the lessons most likely started on the playground or maybe in the backyard. We were taught to share our toys. Some of us probably did that with more enthusiasm than others, but the lesson eventually took hold.
We were also taught to put a little of our allowance into the collection plate on Sundays or to save our pennies for a contribution to a mission at church or maybe to bring canned goods for a food drive at school.
There were lots of ways we were taught to share what we had, no matter how little we could spare, with others who needed it more.
Fast forward to adulthood when tipping became part of that same spirit of generosity. We learned that waiters and waitresses who provided us with good service should be tipped accordingly. In general these workers earn less than minimum wage because employers envision tips supplementing their low salaries. That's an issue for another time, but the reality is that for now they can get away with it.
Often -- though far from always -- these low-wage earners are young, just starting out, maybe in a first job. How distressing and disillusioning it must be, then, to discover that their peers completely ignore the most basic courtesy of tipping!
This hit home for me in the past couple of weeks as I was stopping by my favorite Starbucks for my morning fix of caffeine and found myself in the middle of a teen frenzy of caramel lattes and mochas. Not a one of these young people spending $4, $5 or even more on a pre-school coffee drink or a pastry left so much as a handful of loose change for the employees waiting on them. I'm not even sure I've heard a thank you thrown in.
I asked one of the workers if they ever tipped. She merely shrugged and said, "The ones who like me do."
A day or so later I ran into a few more of their peers at a local pizza place. Same thing. The kids spent a fortune on pizza and sodas, but didn't leave even a dollar in the tip jar.
Now, I will grant that these are not full-service restaurants, but the employees not only take orders, they often prepare the drinks and food! Frankly, I want them to love me, not wonder what they can do to get even next time they see me!
Of course, the concept of possible retaliation isn't even the point. It's that someone has neglected to teach some of these entitled teens basic generosity. If they can afford a $5 cup of coffee, surely they can spare some change for the person who makes it and serves it to them. One of these days they need to be in line behind the homeless man who cleans up at the pizza place in exchange for a meal. He always tips! Shame on them for not following his example!