Jews have a reputation for being a little bit stingy, or so I’ve heard. So, normally I wouldn’t be excited about 32 Jewish people coming into a restaurant all at once. But this was the best type of party, as there was an automatic gratuity of 20% attached to the table, and it was all on one check with an open bar. And, as it turns out, Jews like to spend other people’s money.
This was actually a pretty cool event, as it was a celebration for the patriarchs of the family who were celebrating their 60th Anniversary by paying for the entire extended family at our fine establishment. 60 years. I’ll be 81 when I’ve been married for 60 years, and I hope that my family is half that size, and that perhaps my son will buy me a nice hat or maybe a comfortable pair of shoes. I definitely know I won’t be dropping $1300 for dinner to celebrate my accomplishment. I might buy my wife a nice chicken plate somewhere, but they will have to cut up the food for her because by that time she will have lost all of her teeth.
Not so with this couple. They were rightfully proud of their large family and all of the love in the room. It was pretty cool, and pretty annoying at the same time. It’s never easy to serve 32 people effectively, even when you’re sharing the load. Actually, it can be harder depending on who is sharing the load with you. As it turns out, I did a lot of submitting to my coworker’s way of handling the table tonight, and it was quite frustrating most of the time. But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “At least I know we will be making 20%, so who cares?” My friend and coworker, Zach, meanwhile, was handling the rest of the people in the restaurant on his own, and I know he was also pushed to the brink of breaking down with all of the work he was doing alone. I was glad that he did, and glad to share my portion of the tip from this table with him because he was working so hard (and because he was also sharing his tips with us).
I delivered the check to the patriarch, and showed him that, with the 20% gratuity added, the total was going to be $1600 or so. I was nervous to be the one explaining the check to this man, as I knew he was Jewish and had no idea how he would respond to the total (perhaps he might try to bargain with me or something?). But, he did quite the opposite. This man said, “My lucky number is 18, so lets make it 18.” I, naturally, thought he was bargaining with me on the tip, since 18% is a common automatic gratuity added by restaurants. So, I clarified, “18? Do you mean $1800?” That was a risk. To my surprise, he concurred. He said to tell Todd, the owner, that he was making it $1800 and told me that we did a great job serving them tonight.
So, instead of acting “Jewish”, and bargaining for a lower price, this man raised the tip by 10%. For those who have worked in the restaurant business, you know this never happens, especially on a ticket this large. Never. We were blessed by this man, who was already blessing his family, as if we were a part of it too. And it was beautiful, and telling of this man’s character. He lived out the command to Abraham to be a blessing through his blessing. I’m not sure he had this in mind, but I like to think he did. This might just be why he had 32 people showing up to honor him and his wife after 60 years. I hope I can live up to that when I reach my 60th anniversary.