After filling up her car with gas, my friend pulled out a P100 bill from her wallet and gave it to the gasoline boy who had assisted her. The boy looked at the bill with disbelief, then with tears welling in his eyes, he thanked her. “Salamat sa inyo, meron na po akong pambili ng tanghalian. (Thanks to you, I can now buy my lunch.),” he said.
My friend was touched. That P100 bill meant little to her. She would hardly even miss it. Yet for that young boy, it was the world! It meant food in his stomach, sustenance for another day. Had she not given him that bill, who knows where he would get the money for his next meal?
Score one for giving tips.
In a world where so few have so much, and so many have so little, these small acts of generosity can make a big difference. It’s one way by which the haves can help the have-nots. No need to organize fund raising events, or to hold big charity balls. Just the simple act of putting a small amount into someone else’s empty palm is charity enough for one day.
Once, on a shopping spree in Divisoria, some friends and I found our purchases too heavy to carry. Two scruffy little boys approached us, asking to carry our bags for us—with the unspoken understanding that we would pay them for their efforts (which of course we did). As we walked towards our car, we passed by a kiosk selling roasted chicken. It smelled temptingly delicious. Unable to resist, we bought some chickens for ourselves—and some for the little boys who were carrying our shopping bags. Instead of going straight to the car, we sat at the nearby table to partake of the chicken.
“Kainin na ninyo yung chicken ninyo, habang mainit (Eat your chickens while they’re hot),” we urged the boys.
Just the simple act of putting a small amount into someone else’s empty palm is charity enough for one day.
“Hindi po, ma’am,” they answered. “Iuuwi namin ito sa nanay namin (No, ma’am. We’ll bring this home to our mother).”
It was past noon. The sun was hot. Those little boys must have been hungry. Yet they thought of their mother first before assuaging their own hunger. And my friends and I thought that we were the givers, that we were the generous ones. Surely we learned a lesson from those poor boys that day.
Score two for giving tips.
It’s a lesson that has reinforced my belief in little acts of giving.
At the airport, whenever I travel, I make sure to tip the porters extra, even if I’ve already paid the official fee of P50 per luggage. After all, these porters are the ones who carry the heavy load, a backbreaking job if there ever was one. I imagine that whatever salary the airport is giving them, if at all, must surely be a pittance. Those of us who are blessed with the privilege of being able to travel owe it to the world to give a little back to those who help ease our traveling.
Yet sometimes I watch in horror at the nonchalance of other travelers. At the arrival area, they ask the porters to lift up their heavy suitcases from the conveyor belt—after which they grab their suitcases and go on their merry way; not only do they not tip the porters, they don’t even bother to say thank you. It is to their credit that these porters don’t complain or make a sour face at this appalling behavior. But once when I saw a well-dressed traveler grab her designer suitcases from the porter, and leave without so much as a thank you, it was more than I could bear. Looking at the forlorn face of the porter, I felt obliged to make up for this person, and gave the porter a tip myself. Not that I was trying to be holier than thou. But one’s sense of decency can tolerate only so much rudeness.
Besides, who among us can’t use a little extra cash now and then? Several years ago, during the Christmas party of celebrity hairstylist Ricky Reyes, I was lucky enough to win the grand prize of P2,000. Even though I had just received my 13th month pay at work, I still felt thrilled to have this extra spending money for Christmas. As I began to imagine what I could buy with the money, I realized that if I—who had a job, and a home, and was not exactly destitute—could be so ecstatic over a small windfall, how much more meaningful it would be for a poor person to receive some unexpected blessing?
Score three for giving tips.
Some people I always tip are street musicians. In New York, some of these street musicians may actually be students of Juilliard or other music schools, hoping to augment their allowance by playing music for passersby. Or maybe playing music in the street could be their form of rehearsing their pieces on their violin or their guitar—with passersby as their pretend audience.
Sometimes they play such beautiful, moving music that I not only give them tips, I actually stop to listen (and applaud). Music is balm for the soul, after all, and what can be more soothing than that? These street musicians are providing a service, and for that, they deserve some amount of compensation.
Giving tips became especially significant during the darkest days of the pandemic, when the lockdown had many of us marooned at home and dependent on food or grocery delivery. Those riders who tried to earn a living by bringing these goods to our homes, at the risk of getting infected with the virus themselves, surely deserved generous tips.
Some families even found commendable ways to help these riders. In one neighborhood, the residents would leave cold bottles of water or fruit juice outside their gates, so the riders could quench their thirst as they made their deliveries. The more thoughtful ones would even provide crackers and cookies.
Giving tips became especially significant during the darkest days of the pandemic, when the lockdown had many of us marooned at home and dependent on food or grocery delivery.
The security guard who holds open your car door, and risks getting hit by passing cars as he tries to clear the traffic for you; the waiter who serves your meal in the restaurant; the stylist who cuts your hair or colors it to camouflage your aging beauty; the baggage boy who carries your groceries to your car when you shop at the supermarket— all of them deserve to be given a tip and maybe not just an insignificant amount, but a generous one, as generous as you can afford. After all, what would you have done if they weren’t around to provide their service?
And for all we know, one or all of them may have been praying for a miracle that day: for some money, perhaps, to buy a kilo of rice; or money to give as baon to the kids; or even money to buy medicine for a headache. The tip you give them would surely answer those needs and brighten their day. Unknowingly, you could be that miracle that they were praying for.
Most of all, in this season of giving, it is well to remember the words of He whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas: “Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, you do unto Me.”
Score 10 for giving tips.
Four tips for making tipping easier
Sometimes we get discouraged from giving tips because pulling out money from our wallets could be unwieldy, especially for women whose wallets may get buried underneath the many items they have in their handbags. In addition, maybe among the many paper bills they have, there isn’t any small change (although P100 could be considered small change these days).
Here are some helpful hints to make giving tips easier:
- Reserve a special space in your handbag for small bills or large coins to give as tips (please don’t give P1 tips). Then you wouldn’t have to pull out your entire wallet whenever you have to give a tip.
- Whenever you have time, drop by your friendly neighborhood bank and ask to change your large bills into smaller ones. For example, change a P500 bill into P50 bills. Then you’ll have 10 P50 bills to give as tips to 10 different needy people (or double that amount, if you can afford to).
- Better still, if you have a pocket, put the tipping bills in your pocket, so it’s easier to pull one or a couple to give as tips.
- Giving tips is not the same as giving alms. Tips are given to those who have provided some service—and are a way to show your appreciation for their help, while also being of help to them.