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Dulcey Amargo - Service with a smile

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By Lupita Gonzales

It goes without saying that a good meal, served graciously, is worthy of a fair tip for the server, right?

I, personally, keep that in mind each time I eat at a sit-down establishment.  There’s history behind my premise, as, in my high school years, I was a waitress at a number of eateries in my home town. Now, keep in mind, at that time, minimum wage was about 75 cents an hour. That meant that an eight-hour stint would garner one about $6.

Back in those days, there wasn’t a “suggested tip amount” printed on the ticket the diner received. Lol, there weren’t even printed tickets; there was simply the waiter/waitress’s hand-written ticket provided to the customer to present to the cashier.

A quarter, even a half-dollar might be left as a tip for the waiter/waitress; a dollar was a delight! One night, as a waitress at Gordo’s Café in Gallup, I served a meal to about 15 patrons, one of whom was my high school algebra teacher, Father Boniface.

Apparently, the group had just had a winning bowling match at the bowling alley just down the street, and were in a jovial mood.  I took all orders, tried to serve graciously, and after the guests had eaten and left, proceeded to buss my table. To my great delight, the group had left me a $5 tip! Imagine that! My take-home for the day was virtually doubled.

I refer to this incident because, as a regular at a local restaurant, I keep in mind how much that little extra meant to me back in the dark ages. Today, we hear so much about raising the minimum wage and how it will impact hiring practices, etc., but it would do well to also consider how people out there providing services are affected by the gratuities that customers provide or don’t.

No, I have nothing to gain from championing the cause of tipping, but, as I said before, I, personally have known the letdown of not getting that little extra.

• • •

So, yes, money is on my mind. Costs for virtually everything have risen. I am teased by a colleague for asserting that “I am comfortable.” That means that through the years, thanks to various incentives- annuities, savings accounts and being part of the workplace, I have watched my assets and have made sure that I don’t overspend. I’m not bragging… I’ll bet many of you are in the same place. I’d also bet that many are not “comfortable,” and live a day-to-day survival nightmare.

Oftentimes, I, like you, probably, have been accosted by individuals on the street, asking to be helped out with some extra change we might be able to give. Our consciences are often taxed, knowing that we “have it better” and should help out if we can. On the other hand, perhaps we take a different attitude and reject the asker. In my mind, there’s no one pat answer. It’s a difficult situation to consider, either way. I guess we could label it “A matter of conscience.”

Lupita Gonzales is a retired educator and member of the Optic Editorial Board. She may be reached at lupitagonzales2002@yahoo.com.