I don’t live and didn’t grow up in america, and while I am familiar with Black Friday I kind of lost track when Black Friday turned in to #smallbizsat which eventually became #cybermonday and I don’t even remember what Sunday was supposed to be for.
But then I woke up Tuesday morning to all the #givingtuesday ‘s and I decided that this whole hashtag trend is not that bad after all. I even felt like I was on track because late the night before I had done something nice I was feeling pretty good about (And late Monday night can sort of count for Tuesday right?)
I work two jobs to pay for school, rent, bills and other trivial things like food and underwear. One of my jobs is challenging and fulfilling and will hopefully be of importance on my resume. The other is being a waitress. I like it though- the hours are relatively easy, my boss is great, I get pretty good tips, a free meal every shift and I am a people person so I enjoy talking to customers (unless you walk in at 23:00 and ask if we are still open, or can we just order one small thing? takeaway don’t worry…. seriously? Do you not see the chairs piled up, the wash bucket ready and the murderous sleep deprived look on my face??).
Regarding the tips. We divide them up equally between both people on shift(two waitresses, two cooks- its a small place) according to the hours you work, but trainees don’t get tips (for at least the first two weeks). The thing about this system is that for the first three shifts or so it makes sense because the other worker has to do their job and teach you at the same time, but it’s not to hard to catch on and pretty soon you’re doing the work just like anyone else but not getting tipped for it. It’s frustrating and unfair and you don’t say anything because everyone else went through this before and you just want to get through as many shifts as possible and make a good impression so you can get through your training time as quickly as you can. At least that’s what I did. It worked OK.
So Monday night I was working a shift with a trainee and as I gathered up my tips I handed her some of my share. Not half but not a small amount either. My reasoning was that if she hadn’t been a trainee we would be splitting it anyhow which would leave me with even less, plus I was a trainee myself not too long ago and hated the feeling of going home empty handed while the other girl on shift got the money I worked just as hard for. So I decided to swallow some of (I still kept more then half) my greed and share a bit. Be the change you want in the world and all that. Nice right? I thought so..
So I got home and feeling super good about myself ended up sharing my good deed with my roommates. I’m not a very egocentric or conceited person (at least I hope I’m not) but letting yourself be proud of something good is OK once in awhile and it sort of just slipped out. Even during the telling of the whole thing I heard a little voice telling me that some things are better left unsaid. But I said it, didn’t think much more about it and showed up for work the next day as usual where I was working with a girl I don’t like much.
I will give her the benefit of the doubt by saying she is probably just super stressed about money, but bottom line-she did not stop talking about tips all shift. She eyed every coin dropped in the tip jar, she told me (half jokingly half not I’m still not sure)to pop an extra button on my top, she got way too upset if someone left less then 10%, and basically got on my nerves all night long. When she actually said the words “ugh, why are you not a trainee anymore then I would get all the tips” I snapped. The tip system is the boss’s decision but an attitude of taking advantage like that really pissed me off. So I told her that she needs to chill out, and that I even gave some of my share to a trainee last shift and went home with 20% less god help us all. Not my most mature moment I’ll give you that, but I was annoyed and tired and human. She started a bit at my confession and asked me not to do it again, If I was the only one giving tips to the trainees it would make the rest look bad and this was the system so if I could just stick with it.
I went home with an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. A small good thing coming from honestly good intentions had crumbled around me and come out the other side all wrong. I hadn’t even thought about how my action might affect others. I was so proud of myself for being just a tiny bit better then the others I didn’t notice I was potentially hurting them. So yeah, it’s not that big a deal and everything was fine no need to be so dramatic. But it got me thinking about Doing Good and how Giving Back and how all of it can turn on us if we are not careful, and don’t keep our ego’s in check. How maybe #givingtuesday doesn’t count as much if you need to tweet about it* .
*I know inspiring others is also important and quite honestly compared to all the other depressing things out there on twitter and news feeds we can probably manage a few mentions of good deeds, but I was making a deeper point so stay with me on this.