I’m not a script writer – but here’s the scene:
Day time. Sunny. Hot.
Carwash. Lots of cars, in line, people milling about waiting for their cars to be hand-washed and dried.
Men in blue shirts, long pants, with red and grey wash cloths, towels, drying cars as they come along the line. It’s hot out. Sun beaming down on the lot directly. No shade.
I’m inside the small structure, paying my bill at the cashier.
Cashier: “That’ll be $22.50.”
Me: “Thank you. Can you also break this $20 for me, two tens? I want to give a tip.”
Random older man behind me: “Excuse me. You’re going to give a $10 tip for a $22 car wash.”
Confused, I look around trying to figure out who he’s talking too and then realize it’s me.
Me: “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?”
Random older man: “Yeah. I mean why would you give a $10 tip for a $22 car wash? That’s a lot of money for a tip.”
Me (staying as calm as possible – trying hard not to yell at this random person for not minding his own business): “Uhem. Yeah, I like being a good tipper.”
Random older man: “Well, it’s not necessary. That’s basically 50% of the costs. A couple of bucks is enough.”
Me (Trying with all my might not to scream at him that I know math.): “Do you know how much these people make per day?
Random older man: “Doesn’t matter. That’s not how tipping works. And some of them are probably illegal.”
Me (Holding back my shock and anger, but only slightly): “Well, whether or not they’re illegal is beside the point, right? Because if you really cared that they were illegal and it was a problem for you, then your integrity would not allow you to come to an establishment that would allow an ‘illegal’ person to work on your car, right? Because why else would you bring up such a thing? Are they less deserving of a tip than anyone else?”
Random older man: “That’s not what I meant.”
Me: “That’s what you said.”
Random older man: “What I mean is you should save your money. Your car is old and if you didn’t give away your money, maybe you could buy a new car.”
Me (feeling all sorts of bold, but staying calm): “Well, you do realize you’re making an assumption. But let’s go with it. My car is a 2004 original Honda Civic Hybrid. I’m its original and only owner, it’s in perfect condition with less than 55,000 miles and since I don’t need a bling car to define who I am and I don’t drive that much, I actually have enough money left over to tip people decently for the hard work they do for ME.
Random older man: “Okay. Okay. I can see that. I didn’t realize it was a Hybrid.”
Me: “That actually doesn’t matter. Even if I had your… what car is yours? The bling LandRover over there?”
Random older man: “Yeah. That’s mine.”
Me: “Well, clearly you could afford a decent tip. But you do you. I’m not going to inquire as to why you tip so poorly. That’s your business and says a lot more about the person you are than that car you drive.”
Random older man: “You’re missing the point. It’s not necessary. I bet you’ll be one of those people who gives so much money away all the time that you’ll die with nothing, maybe even penniless.”
Me (with a smirk and a little chuckle): “Well, not that my finances are any of your business, but I think you’re missing the point. If the worst thing that happens to me is dying penniless because I gave my money away… then, the way I see it I would have lived my life right. That is the goal after-all. To help others when I can. To treat people with respect and dignity. To be compassionate and kind. And to mind my own business, especially to strangers – who didn’t ask for my help, and because I know, no matter what I assume, I don’t know what they may be going through in their lives. I’m gonna let you think on that a bit. It looks like my car is done, but thank you for an interesting, if not awkward conversation.”
Overhead in the distance: “Senorita, tu carro.”
I walked toward my car, without looking back, with my head held high and with so much joy.
Me (Smiling to car wash attendant): “Thank you so much!”
I hand the attendant the ten-dollar tip, get in my car and drive away.