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A Little Gratitude for Servers: Please & Thank You

By November 25, 2014April 16th, 2017Balance, Giving Back, Healthy Living, Inspiration

Gratitude word wallpaperAs our world continues to go through dramatic changes and shifts, it appears to me that we are all being called to serve. Every one of us has unique and individual ways we can serve others and the planet every day. Perhaps it’s more important than ever to recognize this and consciously act from a heart-centered place of sincere caring, concern and gratitude.

My wonderfully spirited daughter Lani, who shines her light out into the world and serves others through her performing talents, also literally “serves” people every day at a family-oriented restaurant in midtown Toronto. From what others have told me, she shines particularly brightly at this, as well.

An Unexpected Turn of Events

What happened to her could have, and probably does, happen all the time to servers in towns and cities around the globe. Her restaurant was offering a “buy one, get one free” entrée promotion to try to restore patrons’ confidence after a health scare that had been publicly blown out of proportion. It was a busy Thursday night, and after serving what to her appeared to be a trustworthy family of four, she cheerfully left the billfold and check for them to pay when they were ready. No pressure and no sign of anything that in any way showed that they weren’t 100-percent happy.

She went off, and in her efficient and enthusiastic way, she continued serving her other customers, making sure everyone was equally happy and enjoying their dining experience. Not too long after this, she returned to this family’s table and found that they had left the building, taking the billfold and check with them. Not only did they not leave a tip, but they did not even pay the bill! When she told me, I was shocked.Gratitude for your waitress

It’s Easy to Show Respect and Gratitude

This family had already received two free entrées, and the bill was not high. In short, their actions showed a lack of respect and gratitude for the restaurant, the food and their server. Because of restaurant policy, the server is responsible for the bill. Ouch! Her fellow servers rallied to support her; however, as we are all human, this understandably scarred her otherwise great day and night. It left both of us questioning how anyone could consciously behave in a premeditated way that so lacks integrity and illustrates an unflattering side of human nature: acting without gratitude.

This John F. Kennedy quote speaks volumes, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Looking for the Lesson in it All

Being who I am, I looked for a lesson in it, believing that there’s always something to be learned in every situation by the people involved. Maybe the family was hungry and actually couldn’t afford to pay for the meal. Or maybe the husband thought the wife paid or vice versa.

Maybe there was a misunderstanding, because English was not the family’s first language. Trying to see the positive in it, I still find it difficult to understand why people forget to act from a place of gratitude and aren’t able to express it openly and freely to others, especially those who serve us, all the time. Have we lost the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see what the view looks like from there? Is it really that difficult to consciously stay aware and display gratitude for service?

A Time for Compassion and Gratitude

As I walked today, I found myself wondering when and if we as a people will be able to demonstrate genuine compassion and gratitude to others, not just in times of crisis when we are called to rally together, but all the time.

What someone does for a living is not who they are as a person, but what someone does to another person does indicate the kind of person they are. What kind of lessons are adults like this teaching their children? I don’t have the definitive answers, but I believe we can all start by taking personal responsibility for how we choose to interact in the world. The law of karma tells us that what goes around always comes around, making it important to make gratitude a daily practice, both personally and by showing it to others. Conscious intention is one place to start.

I’d love to hear stories of how grateful or ungrateful behavior has impacted your life. Although the family who left without paying never showed up to make it right, my rose-coloured glass optimism keeps me hopeful, believing that people are good, trustworthy and honourable. More often than not, I see expressions of gratitude all the time, everywhere I look.

Let’s all keep gratitude alive and well, and remember it really is such a simple thing to practice.

Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden is a writer, storyteller, peacenik and health & vitality consultant, who loves testing unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health and wellness, storytelling and creativity as a path to world peace. Her passion is turning the “impossible” into the possible, using her own experiences with a lifetime of health issues, to inspire and support others to live their life to the fullest. You're invited to a Complimentary Health Consultation, starting with the True Health Assessment that offers a customized personalized snapshot of how healthy you are in the areas of lifestyle, heredity and nutrition. Contact me to get started!


  • Renee says:

    You know I feel that sometimes, people who bully, these people, are the ones who actually feel weak, undeserving, or just plain unloved. So we may need to learn to take their behaviour in stride, give these actions less meaning, or at least avoid being hurt by all of it. Though I understand that it’s unavoidable at times, I think we need to give negative actions less weight in our lives!

    • So much truth in what you share here Renee. We can choose to stand firm in our own worth and strength and not let others dampen that through their words or actions. It does take practice, however, if we understand that we can only be responsible for our reactions, we can learn that these behaviours are theirs and not ours. Thanks for sharing your wise words here.

  • Barbara Keen says:

    So sorry Beverley to hear this story about your daughter. It pains me to think that people don’t have respect for others. People don’t think about how they would feel if the table was turned and your daughter did it to them! As Parents we need to be roll models and teach our children how to respect others. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Thanks so much Barbara and yes, it always shocks me as well to hear about people who act this way. If we could only listen to the other from their perspective, I believe we all would understand and hopefully behave differently. This type of incident happens much more frequently than we’d like to believe too. Appreciate your support and voice in this conversation.

  • Ines Roe says:

    Maybe I look at the world from a naive perspective but I so want to believe that it was either a misunderstanding or an mis-communication. I just can’t bring myself to believe it was a willful mean spirited act. I always try to look for the fundamental good in people. But, I also have to question the owners of the restaurant that would allow a server to absorb the loss. They could write if off on their taxes (I would think) rather than allowing their employees to suffer.But again, my naivete is showing.

    • I’m very much like you Ines and really always give people the benefit of the doubt and believe they are good at heart and with their intentions. It is always challenging for me to think people are malicious or mean-spirited and I also look for the fundamental good in others. And this part of the food industry is hard to understand, I agree. I imagine the owners see it as keeping the servers accountable, however, there are some things that are totally beyond their control and it would be lovely to take circumstances into account. And yes to being able to absorb the loss to show support for their employees. Thanks so much for lending your voice to the conversation!

  • Veronica says:

    Sorry to hear what happened to your daughter. My daughter is 17 and works at a popular chain restaurant as a greeter. She tells me stories about the manager who treats them really badly (he clearly hates his job) and the customers abuse over food and the time they have to wait to get seated……not even 20 minutes sometimes. It is alarming….her first job and this is the lesson she is learning about people. Sometimes people don’t understand how their words affect others…there is such power in the tongue. It may be easier to put someone down, but it is so much more powerful expressing gratitude and kindness

    • Thanks for sharing your daughter’s experience working in the food industry Veronica. If people only knew how much power they had to hurt with their words, I’d like to believe they would stop and think before they speak or act. We live in times when showing compassion, respect and gratitude for others is increasingly important. Appreciate your perspective and for joining in the conversation.

  • Lorii Abela says:

    Thanks, Beverley, for sharing Cicero’s definition of gratitude and other details of your article.It is worth reading!

  • Pat Moon says:

    It pains me to hear stories like what happened to your daughter. So many people do not seem to know how to show respect. As parents and grandparents we should teach respect by setting an example. A grateful heart radiates respect.

    • Thanks so much Pat for your sincere concerns on hearing this experience my daughter experienced. It is quite shocking to hear that people do not have respect for those who are in service to us. And, I agree that it is up to us to teach and instil the lesson of gratitude and respect to our children and grandchildren. I appreciate your voice in this conversation!

  • We dine out with folks who insist on leaving tip before tax & with others who leave it on the bottom line. I tell my hubby to slip extra when that couple is gone. We know how little servers make. Generally I engage with them and that encourages everyone to want to be more generous because they feel connected. I often say, do what you feel is right not what others do. I used to ask my hubby to return the shopping cart to its rightful place. He’d say, why- others don’t. Took many conversations & now he boasts how he does it even if no one else does. Be responsible and have integrity. Have a great Thanksgiving.

    • It’s so important to recognize that those who serve us, deserve to be respected and treated with gratitude as well. I am like you and engage and appreciate anyone who serves me in a restaurant as I know how tough it is for them and how they depend on tips. My daughter is exceptional, so this incident so quite shocking to me and to others as well. Generosity of sharing both of yourself and by physically tipping someone really is a form of high integrity and appreciation. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours too, Roslyn!

  • So much truth in your post. We take the work that others do for granted so many times without ever realizing that they too are working to support themselves and their families. Being grateful to those who serve us is very important. If we could all spread more compassion and gratitude we would live in such a beautiful world.

    • Thanks so much Meryl, for seeing that spreading compassion and gratitude is becoming more important than ever as a way of honouring others who are serving us. Appreciate how you expressed this here and thanks for lending your voice to the conversation.

  • Tina says:

    This is a very interesting blog, Beverley. Pamela and I were talking about this very thing a week or so ago, when we were comparing a salad-bar type restaurant (where one gets her own food but they will bring you a meal off the menu) and a completely self-serve buffet. Funny,that at one we feel comfortable leaving a tip and at the other one we don’t. So we were discussing the differences in the type of restaurant (not knowing the pay difference, if there is one). The bottom line, of course, is being grateful for the service in the first place. I’d like to win the lottery and be able to leave HUGE tips to the people who offer service for the things I take for granted.

    • It is such an interesting topic, Tina, I agree. If people knew how little servers make (generally below minimum wage actually), they would be generous to those who are generous to them. There are so many ways we can express our gratitude to others and respecting those who are choosing to serve us is a place to start. Thanks for sharing your experience and how you actually had the conversation and with yourself and Pamela and showed your care and concern about others. That is so sweet to hear you’d leave huge tips is you had the means!