The Anonymous Big Tipper

When the slow news day comes around, we all know the feel good stories that both local and national news outlets will roll with. You will see something about a seemingly healthy and spunky person turning 112. Or you might see a package about some long overdue library book finally returned that accrued a $20,000 fine while stuffed in an attic. Quite possibly you will hear about a long lost family pet that wandered away only to randomly come back to the household’s front porch a decade later.

These stories all generate human interest and by no means is there anything wrong with them. It is just that for me personally, I favor another cliché story. Just like the three topics I previously mentioned, you will see this type of story numerous times each year, a true “dime a dozen” of the media world. I will try to explain why I don’t mind hearing a variation of this particular situation 87 different times a year.

I have a soft spot for the tales of caring souls who come into restaurants and excessively over tip the server. I am talking about a 1,000% gratuity or a triple zero gesture that really makes the day of an overworked, stressed college student or a down on her luck single mom. I enjoy looking at the receipt (which always goes viral) that shows the $13.54 charge for a sandwich and cup of coffee followed by the line underneath it with the handwriting of some saint who wrote in $4,986.46. The common ending detail is pretty much always the same…the customer asks to remain anonymous (or is able to stay anonymous through it all).

These stories just never get old to me. I like hearing how thankful the server is, I gobble up the details about how the customer acted during the meal, and I love the mystery that is left in the end. These gratuities usually are never enough to completely change a person’s life but they are big enough where the beneficiary can use the funds to at least make a difference.

I am writing about this subject tonight because, sure enough, one of these happy situations just recently occurred in Myrtle Beach. A server who had only been on the job for two weeks at the Gulfstream Café waited on a couple who left him a cool $1,000 tip on a $69 bill. As I have dined at this restaurant before, I couldn’t help but think perhaps I sat in the proximity of that very generous man and woman.

This was the check left for the server at the Gulfstream Café (photo courtesy of Brooke Holden of WMBF News).

This was the check left for the server at the Gulfstream Café (photo courtesy of Brooke Holden of WMBF News).

I think my intrigue with massive restaurant tippers originated about 10 years ago. I was at a restaurant with my mom’s family during Christmas time. We had a nice meal and the bill came to probably $100. One of my uncles paid the check while the other uncle left the tip. The latter presented our server with a $100 bill. Seeing how thankful and surprised that waiter was made me feel some type of way. These days when I hear of a server receiving a truly outrageous tip I can’t help but light up thinking about how overjoyed that employee must have been.

The kindness of my uncles set an example for me that I should always over tip (and I do). However, I have yet to ever do so in a newsworthy way. I hope to one day be in a position to do such a deed that many kind, anonymous people have done before me. Don’t Blink.

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