Don’t Keep The Change!


We felt tired and hungry that evening after going through a veritable shopping spree in an upmarket area of the big city. Of course, we did not shop in the cool and expansive showrooms. We moved on, standing all the time, from vendor to vendor sprawled as usual along the pavement doing brisk business. Add to that our tedious journey by a city bus before that. Now, another bus journey where a seat was never guaranteed back home staring at us, we definitely would not have liked to undertake it, starving mad.

 

It was not in our planning to have tea and snacks as most of the restaurants where you could sit and eat in comfort were very expensive. However, in earnest consultation with my wife, we finally decided to respect the signals blipping constantly in the bellies.

 

We entered one airconditioned and posh restaurant and took a side table along the glass paneled wall, rewarding us with a nice view outside. The waiters were in uniform. One elderly waiter came up to us smiling. We checked the menu and discovered the least costly snack along with the cheapest variety of tea. The bill would not amount to much. We leaned back in the velvety chairs. We ordered.

 

We were very happy to find that our pangs of hunger were quite satisfactorily quieted along with the add-on of the comfortable environs that relieved us of the tiredness, thus revitalizing us for the journey back.

 

The elderly waiter placed the bill while we were still sipping the steaming cups of tea with elaborate leisure. I checked the bill and finding it not to be on the higher side decided to not use the credit cards. I paid in cash.

 

The waiter quickly came back with the change. To my surprise all the change were in coins of various denominations, filling almost whole of the tray. Like any other innocent being of my species I did not smell a rat.

 

I just looked up at him, nodded smiling back at him in a way to convey the message that ‘Let me finish and then I’ll settle it’, and then concentrated on our tea and a casual chat. The elderly waiter smiled broadly now, and he did something that was one of the most unexpected things of my entire life.

 

Like the expert maid who scrubs your home floors in a flash the elderly waiter, in a swift motion, swished away the pile of the coins from the tray with his right palm to his gratefully expanded left palm. Then he moved away quickly.

 

I did not want to look embarrassed or angry. Coming into that restaurant meant we were customers of a higher plane of social status. I tried very hard, however, to keep the smile linger on my face, and turned my attention to the last sip of the tea. I did not even tell anything to my unsuspecting wife who was enjoying the tea and the ambience blissfully.

 

Not telling my wife had a valid reason too. She had always been very vocal and outspoken in regard to any kind of injustice. And this particular unjust happening when the supposed tip amounted to almost 40% of the total bill would have rattled her rendering her vocal cords go  out-of-control which would have been quite inappropriate in that place and in its enriching ambience.

 

Not that I never give tips or that I’m miserly in that kind of normal practices. But this ‘tip robbery’ does make one have a brainstorming rethink on the issue and perhaps tend to reverse the generous uttering of ‘keep the change’ depending on the situation that happens to prevail.

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