Here’s the thing: I really don’t make in tips, because we pool them with the entire staff at the end of the night. What I do make is friends.
On a great night, I’ll get $15, maybe $20 if I am lucky. So, when I give you great service, it’s not because I want you to tip me, it’s because I actually want to give you great service. As waiters, or as anything in life, really, Christians ought to do their best…not for the money, but because we are compelled to, by the power of Christ. His grace and compassion ought to seep into our souls and out of our every pore, so that we reek of love.
There have been times where people have opened up to me, just total strangers. I remember this one lady, I want to say early-mid forties, one of my earliest customers last year, who glided in on a cloud of slate J.Jill chinos and generous pumps to grab a few beers. As these stories go, we got to talking, she said she was meeting a friend, and that he was a real-estate agent. She said she had a “rough day”, and soon it all just came out. Everything.
Her husband left her - in a typically-clichéd manner - for his secretary. He was divorcing her, she had been out of the job market for twenty years and selling her beautiful home in Portland seemed to be the only option. She had three children to provide for, and I don’t imagine it an easy situation to handle, emotionally and physically caring for three (what I imagine to be) younger children while selling a house because of a nasty divorce.
Over the next few hours, she sat and chatted with me across the bar, talking about this and that. She was probably very beautiful when she was young, and she was probably beautiful still, but the pain of betrayal and heartbreak had etched its bitter sign upon her features. She seemed so solid, so real, this perfect visage barely showing the turbulence underneath.
The saddest thing is this: beer wouldn’t fix her problems. I seriously just wanted to come around the counter and give her a hug, because that’s what she needed. She needed to be loved; I wonder if anyone had ever loved her in the entirety of her existence on this earth. I wanted to share God’s love with her.
But I couldn’t: it’s simply not professional. All I could do was silently pray over her.
I never saw her again, I don’t know what happened to her in the end, I don’t know if I ever will see her again.
So, I guess that the moral of the story is this: I don’t value your money, I don’t value your mastercards or visas or what have you. I don’t want your money. I simply want to know you, not as a waiter, but as a minister of love and affection. That’s really all that I want. Your words and your trust mean more to me than any dollar amount.