.Be the Change: It’s never just the tip

By Craig J. Corsini

It is no secret to anyone reading this that the restaurant business is where good ideas and good people go to die quickly. It may be the toughest business there is, serving diners day after day.

My late father, the Jesuit accountant, was in the restaurant business—in a way. He was a widely respected restaurant operations and finance professional whose expertise was centered “in the back of the house,” meaning he knew all about where to acquire the food, how much it should cost, how to keep it fresh, how to prepare it, how to find people to work like slaves and when to let them go when things weren’t working out.

Either despite all this or because of it, my dad was the cheapest SOB you ever saw when it came to tipping. So, I have spent my adult life attempting to reverse the effects of my dad’s poor tipping habits. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

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A few years ago, I was visiting with friends at a modest place in Berkeley. Early on, we learned that it was our server’s first day on the job, and she was clearly not having a good time.

Once I established basic rapport with her, I walked over to her station and said, “No matter what you do, you are going to get the fattest blanking tip you have ever received in this dining emporium.” I think she got the joke, and she relaxed.

Everything went beautifully. The bill came to me and it was for $55. I gave her $90 in cash and said, “This is all yours.”

She went back to her station and cried.

Now I know that my habit of overtipping will never reverse the hunger problem, global climate change, toxic political partisanship or racial hatred. But when there is a hint of good service even in the most modest kind of setting, I am going to overdo it as a tipper.

At age 72, I still have some time left on Earth, and there is plenty of catching up to do. One tip at a time.

Craig J. Corsini of San Rafael is a writer, grandfather and ‘a hell of a cook.’

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