A Bad Feeling
The server froze in confusion. This was a completely unusual request, one that she was afraid to accept. Just what were the men asking? They nodded towards the bar office area, indicating they wanted to pay the bill in privacy. The server’s eyes glanced around in a panic, looking for her manager so he could come with her. She had a really bad feeling about this request. She did not want to be alone in the office with these men.
A Really Busy Shift
The server’s name was Ashley Latella and that night, she was working the night shift at the Seagrape Cafe in Fairfield. She was aware of a particular group of men that sauntered in during her shift, but she didn’t really stop to look at them as the Cafe was full to capacity and she was run off her feet keeping up with the orders. The night would proceed as usual, with plenty of drinking, dancing, and animated conversations.
The diners waiting for tables were seated in the bar area while she and her colleagues rushed to serve those already seated.
As another group of noisy students entered the Cafe and headed to the bar area to begin their raucous night of drinking, the three strange men were seated by the front of house staff. Ashley’s manager, Carlos Carmo had noticed them as well and thought at the time that they were not their usual type of patrons. He thought he had better keep an eye on them. He wanted no trouble in his Cafe. His intentions were good but he too was rushed and distracted by the many other patrons needing to be served in the restaurant area.
The men were seated at one of Ashley’s tables and she quickly set out the cutlery and handed them menus. She was an experienced waitress and always provided excellent service, but something about these men made her as nervous as a novice. The men ordered a lot of drinks and food and Ashley felt their eyes burning into her back each time she left their table to take yet another order to the kitchen. None of them spoke each time she returned with their food and drinks.
A Twist Of Fate
As experienced as she was, Ashley knew the quiet customers, mostly male, were the ones to watch. There was always one table that would cause trouble or treat the server badly. Normally, if she felt uneasy she would swap tables with one of her male colleagues, but that was not possible on this busy night. Ashley kept her wits about her as she cautiously continued working the room. These men waited until they had finished their meal before revealing their true nature.
As she served these men, Ashley wondered why these older men were at a popular student bar. They were much older than the Cafe’s usual customers and seemed really out of place. Intuitively she felt that something was brewing and that these men would be the cause of a possible uproar in the restaurant. This was the only rational opinion that Ashely could form, as anything else would be beyond the realms of her imagination.
Caught Off Guard
Every shift usually brings with it both good and bad customers, while the hope is always for more good than bad! And this shift was no exception for Ashley. She had served some really rude and difficult patrons over the months. This did not prevent her from always providing excellent service to all her customers but never yet come across a table of patrons who refused to settle their bill. This was the kind of event that all waiters fear.
The First Clue
The three men had eventually eaten and drunk their fill and asked Ashley to bring the bill. She was relieved as she was exhausted and her shift was due to end soon. She needed to get home and rest before the following day’s shift. She returned after a few minutes to collect the payment and froze when the men would not give her the bill-folder, but asked her to do something truly unusual for them.
What On Earth?
One of the men kept his elbows on the bill folder and made it obvious he was not going to hand it over when Ashley reached for it… All three of them were looking at her intently and she felt extremely uncomfortable. The man keeping the bill folder picked it up and held it away from her confirming her realization that they were not going to hand it over. Ashley was not born yesterday, however. She had suffered her fair share of creepy patrons, and was not going to play their game.
What Game were They Playing?
The customer holding the bill folder seemed to be in charge of whatever ploy he and his friends were pulling. As he stood up and his friends followed suit, he looked meaningfully over at the Cafe’s office door. It was the first time he had broken eye contact with Ashley. Ashley was totally confused when he gestured to her to follow him. What was going on? She was not about to walk into a dangerous situation, no matter what the possible reward was.
Ashley’s discomfort was evident as she held her hands up and out in the universal gesture of confusion. The customer bent down to talk into her ear and repeat his earlier request. She found it difficult to hear him over the thumping music playing in the cafe. As it became clear to her that they wanted to go into the private office to pay their bill, her instinct to flee kicked in. She was terrified at the thought of being alone with these men.
She Did Not Trust Them
While she frantically looked around for her manager, her mind was racing with anxiety. If these men wanted to pay in private, they must have a problem with the service provided to them. If that was the case, why would they not voice their dissatisfaction to her, here on the main floor? Or was she overreacting? Perhaps there was a good reason for their request. It seemed like whatever they had in store for her, it was not for the other patrons’ eyes.
As a beautiful, young lady who kept fit, she often had to rebuff amorous advances from male patrons. Even though the man holding the bill hostage was good looking in Ashley’s eyes, and there was a slight flutter in her stomach each time he made eye contact, she felt uncomfortable with the whole situation. Regardless, of course, she would ever respond to a customer’s advances. And she had decided to listen to her gut; she was not going into the private office alone with these men.
With perfect timing, Carlos rushed past on his way to the kitchen and Ashley grabbed his arm to stop him. He looked into her eyes and saw that she was in a situation she couldn’t handle. She was so relieved to have some backup. Earlier, Carlos had decided to keep an eye on these three out of place patrons, but had forgotten with the busy evening he was dealing with, but he wasn’t that surprised to be stopped. Carlos would take over and deal with their requests. All five of them would go to the office together.
At first, Carlos also thought the men had a complaint about the meal or service. He prepared to ameliorate the situation and hoped he would be able to keep his customers calm and avoid any further trouble. Carlos was split between his protective dedication to Ashley, and his need to keep his clientele and business happy. Now that they were all in the office together, as the customers wanted, they made their intentions perfectly clear.
Behind Closed Doors
Now that the pounding music was muted, the men confirmed Ashley’s fears. They said they had been watching her and her fellow servers all night. Then they surprised her. They said they were dazzled by the speed, efficiency and flawless service all customers were receiving, under extremely busy conditions. Carlos let out a breath of relief and thanked them for their compliment. The man holding the bill handed it over to Carlos who opened the folder. What he saw inside left him in total shock.
Under the total amount owed, Carlos saw a tip of $500. He gasped in shock. $500 on a bill of $112 was incredible. He began to thank the men profusely but they stopped him mid-sentence and told him to take another look. Carlos did and saw he had read the number incorrectly. Just how much had these unusual strangers brought to the table? And what was their reason for giving such an exorbitant tip in the first place?
A Much Larger Amount
When being interviewed later, Carlos said he was at a loss for words at that moment. His second look at the tip was actually $5000! Speechless, he showed Ashley who immediately began to cry in shock and gratitude. After she had calmed down, she hugged each man fiercely. Why would these men have given her such a large gratuity? There was certainly more to their enormous contribution than just gratefulness for Ashley’s exceptional and gracious service.
These enigmatic men appeared to have a huge amount of cash to be able to tip so expansively. Whoever they were, they were carrying stacks of dollar bills around with them as they went about their mysterious charitable work. What had made them come into the Seagrape Cafe in the first place? Perhaps they had been watching Ashley for some time and had decided that she was special. but what was it about her that warranted such a hefty donation?
The men told them they were members of a group called ‘Tips For Jesus’. Their mission was to minister the word of God, one tip at a time.
Paying It Forward
These three men and others from their group had been tipping large amounts to dedicated servers all over America. In Manhattan alone, they had tipped a total of $11,500. As word of their good deeds reached social media, many servers who had been blessed by this group, began sharing their stories online. One bartender received a tip of $1000 on an $85 bill! Ashley had already decided what to do with her share of the tip.
Sharing Her Blessings
As Ashley was a kind and considerate person, she wanted others to benefit from her windfall. In fact, keeping any of the money for herself had never crossed her mind to begin with. She went to her local toy store and bought as many toys as she could with the money and then donated them all to a toy drive called ‘Al’s Angels’. Ashley had in fact shown this altruism towards others often in the past.
Her job at the cafe was part-time as Ashley also had a day job. She had been in the process of collecting toys and blankets for ‘Al’s Angels’ for a while, keeping the items at her office. The gift from ‘Tips For Jesus’ was perfectly timed. Nobody was expecting such a benevolent gesture by Ashley when they gave her the tip, but it just shows: doing good brings on more good! These men were simply paying it forward.
Not everything that goes viral on social media is meaningful. Remember the Tide Pod debacle? It seems that followers enjoy rising to the latest challenge posted online so they can post a bigger and better feat than the initial post intended. Still, sometimes, one of those trends is significant and leads to only further good deeds actioned by followers. A similar exciting thing happened in Connecticut, which really made the hearts of those servers sing too, just shows that you never know when a normal day at work will turn exciting…
Many servers are attempting to increase their pay, so they can get through to the end of the month. The job is a means to an end and most certainly will never make them rich. The new social media challenge is called: ‘Tip The Bill Challenge’. This initiative allows everyone to get involved and get enjoyment from assisting others and end up feeling proud of themselves. In the end, everyone benefits from this compassionate movement.
How Much To Tip?
The challenge works like this: You order anything you like from the menu and when paying the bill, you add a tip of 100% of the total bill. But this is just the minimum, and many of the wealthier participants go crazy! As it turns out, some patrons go really overboard and give much more than 100%. This challenge has also highlighted the etiquette surrounding tipping, as more than half of us have no real idea of the amount we should be tipping the wait staff.
What Amount Is Reasonable?
The accepted amount to tip is between 15% and 20%. Everyone should be adding this amount to their dining out budget. Many of the locations that we eat at frequently have employees who depend on tips to get through the month. The people participating in the challenge are actually far exceeding 20%! We decided to chat with one customer who is a regular at Blue 4, an eatery in Washington. What he had to say will amaze you.
According to the Blue 4’s owner, Christofer Nardelli, this patron lives locally and visits his eatery several times a month. The gumbo, comprised of a chicken and pork base with brown gravy and Scotch ale, is his absolute favorite. He seems to truly appreciate the spicy gumbo to the point that he puts his money where his mouth is. How does this gentleman like to round off his lip-smacking feasts? It might be one of the most heartwarming things you have seen in a while…
Patrons’ Preferred Foods
The restaurant’s owner and chef, kept in touch via email so that notifications can be sent to customers advising them of any changes or additions to the menu. Chef James Turner emailed this particular patron personally, to ask him to tell them in advance when he was coming in for a meal, so James could prepare the gumbo he craved. This sure beats having to wait ten to thirty minutes every time you waltz into a joint with an empty stomach!
The loyal customer had come in with his family as expected, finished their meal and settled the bill before leaving. Their server had not noticed anything out of the ordinary until then. Laura Dally, the server, retrieved the bill from the table. Knowing this gumbo loving customer well by then, she knew he was a fair and benevolent tipper. She was excited as she approached his table to see what he had left for her. What she discovered made her heart beat faster!
There were three bartenders at the Blue 4 and when they had each taken a look at the tip the patron had left, they were stunned. Nobody had ever left such a massive gratuity on a $93 bill. It was closing time, but Laura ran to get Chris, the owner. Just what was the leader of the team about to find out? He knew that this exceptional customer was grateful, but even Chris could never have dreamed of what was in store for him.
But the owner, bartender, and chef at the Blue4 restaurant on Connecticut Avenue said they were shocked when the patron left a really, really big tip: $2,000 on a $93 bill. “I was in an utter daze,” she said. “I was completely speechless. I had to do a double-take.” Laura went to her boss and said, “We need to talk.” By this time, Laura had told Chris he needed to see something and the servers, owner and chef had seen the tip left by “Mr. Gumbo”. All of them were in a state of shock. “Mr. Gumbo” had left a tip of $2 000 on a bill of $93!
Is This A Joke?
After the initial euphoria died down, Laura and Chris went to his office so he could double-check the bill and view the receipt. He had heard of large tippers from his colleagues in the Midwest or the West Coast, but never locally. He had often wondered who these big tippers were and why they never seemed to frequent his establishment! Now the unbelievable had happened and one of them had enjoyed a meal in his eatery.
Instructions From The Customer
‘Mr. Gumbo’ had also left a note, telling them how he wanted the tip divided up amongst the staff. Chef James was to get $1000, and Laura and Chris were to get $500 each. What the note did not explain was why the tip was so large. Even through all their euphoria, the staff managed to feel a bit of curiosity. This was a phenomenal act of kindness, one that all these workers had never experienced in their lives.
Showing Their Appreciation
The next day, Chris sent a “thank you” email to the man and got the explanation for the crazy tip, “He said he’s very happy with what we’ve built and that he’s proud to be a customer,” Chris said. ‘Mr. Gumbo’ said that he had watched the restaurant grow and flourish over the years due to the hard work of its employees and owner, and was proud to be a patron. His gratuity was his way of expressing his feelings.
All three of the beneficiaries are using their windfall wisely. Chris is paying off his child’s pre-school fees and is sure Chef James will be as responsible with his share. Laura who is 29 and lives in Silver Spring has said she is using her share to pay for a summer class at Montgomery College. Her goal is to become an occupational therapist. With this much college tuition covered, you can bet that this ambition is one that will come to be!
An Absolute First!
Chris says it is a huge compliment when people acknowledge good service and are so generous with their praise. Laura agrees and adds that she had never ever been given a bigger compliment than this tip. The back of the receipt had another note for them: “Thank you for the gumbo!” If more patrons show their appreciation for their favorite spots on such a scale then they can be assured that the things that they love about a place will continue to thrive.