Persons, places and things: Late lunch and a tip


By Barb Arland-Fye
My friend Helene and I met for a late lunch last week at one of the few restaurants open for lunch after 2 p.m. on a weekday. A sign on the entrance door advertised open positions at the restaurant, so I mentally prepared for a long wait and slow service.


The employee who seated us cautioned that our server was working solo in our section of the restaurant where other diners also awaited a late lunch. Helene and I prepared to wait, filling the time catching up on each other’s lives. When our server arrived to take our order, she treated us as if we were her first customers of the day and served us with a cheerful attitude.

My small special-order request did not seem to disappoint or annoy her and when she returned to our table with our meals a short time later, the plates were full of appetizing food. We thanked her with an extra dose of gratitude before she moved on to the next table.

Helene and I had not seen each other since the COVID-19 pandemic started so we had a lot of catching up to do between bites of food. Our server returned to the table to collect our check but assured us she was in no hurry. Helene handed her a couple of bills for our meal and our server said she would return with the change. Helene said, “I don’t need change.” The server’s eyes widened and she thanked Helene for the generous tip.


Helene’s generosity coupled with the server’s demeanor and gratitude made an impact on me. “Helene, I’d like to give our server a tip, too,” I said, inspired to match my friend’s expansiveness. Helene said she thought the server would appreciate that gesture very much.

I caught the server as she headed into the kitchen, her arms full of dirty dishes, and told her I wanted to give her an extra tip because of her terrific service. Her face filled with surprise as I placed a bill in one of her hands. I enjoyed her reaction even more than the meal she had delivered to me with special care.

Patience is a virtue that remains elusive for me and waiting in a restaurant puts every bit of it to the test. However, I pray daily for God to guide me to treat people with the respect with which I want to be treated. Action needs to be my response to this prayer.

Since the pandemic, I have read about the poor and, sometimes, appalling treatment that people in the service industry, particularly in restaurants, endure while struggling to meet the demands of impatient customers and staff shortages. On the occasions I do go out to eat, my daily prayer provides a reminder to practice patience.

My luncheon date with Helene provides yet another reminder, a gentle nudge, to practice the virtue of generosity — monetarily and in my interaction with others. Pope Francis says we need to have a magnanimous heart, where all can enter. Our server demonstrated a magnanimous heart in the way she treated us, and I don’t think it was dependent on hoping for a generous tip.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

1 thought on “Persons, places and things: Late lunch and a tip

  1. Ms. Arland-Fye,
    I have emailed you an article on Brother Joseph from New Melleray Abbey, Please publish the article.
    I am working to develop a bulletin insert to invite and transport others to New Melleray.

    Hope this happens soon.

Comments are closed.