#036;20 bill and restoration of faith

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

Meeting so many people in so many different places, occasionally I have a hard time placing names to faces when I see them out of context. So when I saw my favorite Huddle House waitress standing by my desk, it took a second for the cobwebs to clear and recognize her.

"You left this on your table this morning by accident," she said, handing me a crumpled up $20.

Wow. This really floored me. Not because she didn't pocket the money - that didn't surprise me at all. This is the same waitress who chased my car down one day because I'd left something else behind. But she hadn't even been my waitress that morning. The one who was had found the money and gave to the other one, who promptly drove all the way across town to deliver it to me.

That afternoon, at least three members of the Huddle House staff questioned me, to make sure I'd recovered the money. The overall honesty and concern of these women is amazing in this world of corporate greed and drug-related crime. The very same week this happened, someone had stolen a necklace from my car, a gold cross given to me by my husband on my birthday - the same day we had the funeral for my older brother. It was in a plastic bag to be taken to the jeweler to have the chain fixed.

All week long I had obsessed about this - angry at myself for leaving the necklace out on the seat where it was too visible, but angrier at the person who felt they had the right to invade my car and take my things.

One of my favorite soapboxes is the fact that we dwell too often on the negative. It is an occupational hazard, I suppose, since my job includes chasing ambulances, uncovering deception and reporting on the flops and follies of government. Every once in a while, I get to write stories about good things, like Charles Hester at Straughn or the new Senior Center in Opp, and every now and then, I get to experience good things in life as well.

The cross was worth far more than $20, in monetary terms. But what that crumpled $20 bill meant to me was that not all people are rotten thieves, not everyone is out for himself, and there are, in fact, very good people out there. So thank you, those at the Huddle House. I may not have gotten my cross back, but I got something even better.

A little more faith in people.

On a related note, I'm a believer in "walking in someone else's moccasins."

I think that if we all spent a little time and creative effort imagining what it would be like to be someone else, the tolerance level in this world would triple immediately.

My first two jobs as a teenager involved food services, the first at a Shoney's, the second at McDonald's. (Yes, Jeremy, I had a McJob - for seven years - and I'm still pretty proud of it.) I have had friends tell me I overtip and when they say that, I know that they never worked behind the counter in their life.

I think every wait person in Andalusia would benefit if every one of their customers worked a single nine or 10-hour shift taking orders, washing dishes, filling (an re-filling!) coffee cups, and having to listen to petty complaints and whining, while keeping smiles plastered on their faces.

And then cleaning off the table to find no tip, or one low enough to be insulting. Yep,

I think a 10-hour shift would open some eyes - as well as wallets. Unless the service is truly bad, I will always tip and tip well.