Tipping in pounds

In England, people automatically used to leave Christmas tips to those providing services all year round–delivering the mail, newspapers, milk, or collecting the trash. But the custom faded out, so now tips are very rarely left unless we’ve had a really good restaurant server, or someone had done an exceptional job. As I have spent a large part of my life living in America, I saw first-hand how tipping is almost a requirement, as it’s the way many people supplement their income in low paying basic-wage jobs. So although it didn’t come naturally, and sometimes I forgot, I nearly always tipped well when I went out to eat, or received services. Now I am back in the UK, I’m much more aware of how leaving a little extra cash on top of the bill can make a real difference to someone struggling to make ends meet. The other night I was eating out with friends. The food was great, and the server really attentive and helpful, and I thought she really deserved a generous tip, so I left her ₤20. As we were leaving the restaurant, the server came up to me with tears in her eyes, saying, “Thanks so much, I’m really grateful, as I’m saving up to visit a sick friend in Florida from the extra income I can earn from my tips.” It was strange that she was planning a trip to the States of all places, where I learned about tipping, but I left the restaurant with a smile on my face, knowing that my gesture had helped her to reach her goal. It was also a great lesson in remembering that although we may not know the challenges and difficulties strangers are experiencing in their daily lives, our acts of kindness to them always make a difference.

Jay Hemingway