The Customer Is Sometimes Alright

, , , , | Anaheim, CA, USA | Hopeless | March 14, 2016

(I am at a sit-down restaurant at a theme park. A waitress comes up to me while I’m eating.)

Waitress: “Are you finding everything alright, sir?”

Me: “Yes, the food’s very good! Thank you for asking.”

(As she is walking away, I realize I have only $20 in my wallet and no credit cards. I’m fairly young, so I don’t have a credit card and always pay in cash. Because the meal including tax is $19.05, I find out I only have 95 cents for a tip.)

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am…I have a question.”

Waitress: “Yes?”

Me: “Am I supposed to tip you? Because, I don’t think I have enough money left. You see, I only have $20, and the meal I paid for left me with only 95 cents.”

Waitress: *smiles warmly* “Oh, don’t worry about it. The tip is already included with the bill!”

Me: “Really? I don’t have to give you any physical tips or anything like that? Because I really thought I had to give you one.”

Waitress: “Don’t worry about it! Like I said, tips are already included with the bill. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me! Please do enjoy your meal!”

(She walks away with a smile on her face. A couple sitting in the table right next to me paid attention to the whole conversation.)

Husband: “Hey, uh…excuse me, sir?”

(I turn in their direction. He is leaning towards me with a few $1 bills in his hand.)

Husband: “Here, take this. My wife and I overheard your conversation with your waitress. She was really nice and friendly, and we felt a little sorry when we also heard that you wanted to tip her but didn’t have the money. Please, do take this.”

(I stretch out my arm and take their money. Using my thumb, I leaf through it and find out they are giving me $10 to tip my waitress. I am dumbfounded.)

Me: “Why, that’s really kind of you sir, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t!”

(The husband shakes his head in a friendly sort of way, and pushes the money towards me.)

Husband: “No, really, I do insist that you tip your waitress.”

Me: “Thank you…thank you so much! How can I ever repay you?”

Husband: “You don’t need to pay me back. Honest. You both really needed it.”

(I finish my meal, and my waitress comes over to my table to get the bill.)

Me: “Here, take this tip. I really do want you to take it! It came through the kindness of others.”

(She turns to all three of us; apparently, she overheard our conversation.)

Waitress: “Thank you! I’ll go get your bill and hope all of you have a wonderful night!”

(She goes to get the bill and I pay for the meal, getting my last 95 cents as calculated.)

Me: *to husband* “Please, I know it’s not much, but take this 95 cents.”

Husband: *waves me off* “No, no, I can’t. Keep the change. You’ll never know when you’ll need those coins.”

(I try again to give my change to him, but get the same reaction.)

Me: “Well, I know this isn’t much as well, but please have my thanks, and have a great night!”

(I wave to them as I leave the restaurant and they wave back. I still have that receipt to this day to remind me of the kindness a couple brought to me in a tight spot.)

Gift Carded And Dearly Departed

, , , , , , | Hopeless | September 20, 2013

(I am working as an assistant manager at a retail store. A customer comes in while it is slow, so I am able to pay a lot of attention to her, and find her exactly what she wants.)

Customer: “Is it okay to pay by gift card?”

Me: “Of course.”

(I start ringing her in.)

Customer: “I hate to use it, though.”

Me: “Oh, really? Why is that?”

Customer: “My mom gave it to me for my last birthday, and she passed away two months ago.”

(I pause for a moment to make eye contact with her.)

Me: “I’m so sorry to hear that. I lost my own mom a little over a year ago, so I know what you’re going through.”

Customer: “Oh! I guess you do understand, then. Does it get easier?”

Me: “No. I still miss her horribly, and still want to pick up the phone and call her every single day. But I suppose I’m not as raw as I was. You’ll get to that point, too, though you’ll always miss her.”

Customer: “Yeah…”

(I finish ringing her up, and swipe her gift card, which pays for everything. Afterwards, I bring her bag around the counter for her, and hand it to her.)

Customer: “Can I… Can I make a really strange request?”

Me: “Sure.”

Customer: “Can I keep the gift card?”

Me: “Oh, of course you can!”

(I hand it to her. She puts it back in the envelope that bears her name, and caresses it. I can see she’s on the verge of tears.)

Me: “Right before my mom died, she gave me the package she never sent me for my birthday, which had some Avon perfume in it. I like the perfume, but I hardly ever use it, because I don’t want to have to throw away one of the last things she ever gave me.”

Customer: “Oh, so you completely understand why I want to keep this!”

Me: *eyes filling with tears* “Oh, yes, ma’am, completely!”

(We wind up chatting for close to 45 minutes, sharing stories about our moms. By the end of it, we’re both crying openly, but they’re good tears.)

Customer: “I’ve taken up so much of your time; I’m sorry.”

Me: “No, don’t apologize. I’m so glad you came in, and that you were willing to share with me!”

Customer: “Can I… Can I hug you?”

Me: “Of course you can!”

(We hugged for a long time, with both of us still crying. She thanked me profusely, and vowed to come back and ask for me especially. I never did see her again, as I quit not long after that, but it was a wonderful experience. I hope wherever she is, her grief has become less raw than it was when I saw her. I’ll always, always remember her as being one of the best customers I ever had.)

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