During the years that Georgette and I were raising our children, we did our best to go out on a date at least once a week. There was only one condition that applied to our weekly dates: no one else could join us. If we had friends or family members we wanted to go out with, we planned one evening for our weekly date and a different evening for our friends or family members. It didn’t matter where we went, but most of the time, we ended up at a local restaurant.
I’m the type of person who likes to stick with the same restaurant until something better comes along. Earlier this year, Georgette and I went out to eat at one of the local restaurants that we frequently patronize. The young man who waited on us — I’ll call him Antonio — was someone we had never seen at the restaurant. I asked him how long he had been working at the restaurant and he told us that he had recently moved from Florida to Peoria.
I asked him why he moved to Peoria and he said that the woman he was living with in Florida had grown up in Peoria. After they were together for a while, she got pregnant and she wanted to move back to Peoria so she could be near her family. He said that when they came to Peoria, they moved in with his girlfriend’s parents. I asked him if he had plans to get married. He smiled and gave me the same reason (excuse) I always hear from young men who are living with their girlfriends. He said that he wanted to save up enough money to buy a house before he got married.
Antonio was charming, intelligent, and well-mannered. While we were at the restaurant, he regularly stopped by our table to check on us. I ordinarily give generous tips to waiters and waitresses who are pleasant and make a special effort to provide good service. When I have that type of waiter or waitress, I usually leave a tip that is in the range of 20 to 30% of the total amount of the bill.
There are two primary reasons I’m generous with my tips. The first reason is that when I was in high school, I worked as a busboy at a downtown Peoria restaurant that was in a hotel that generated a lot of business. Shortly after I began working at the restaurant, the manager asked me to handle the room service orders. That job kept me busy delivering trays of food to the hotel rooms of people who called in their orders to the restaurant.
Most of the people I delivered food to were in town to conduct business and many of them were generous with their tips, which I greatly appreciated. Back then, the extra money meant a lot to me and I made a commitment to myself that after I finished my education and started working, I was going to reward people in the service industry who worked hard and treated me with kindness and respect.
The other reason I’m a generous tipper is because I pay thousands of dollars a year in taxes that are wasted by politicians, most of whom do not have any respect for the hardworking people who are the backbone of our economy. Those workers ordinarily show up on time for their manual-labor jobs and come home exhausted after working much harder than the politicians who benefit from their taxes.
The way I see it is that if I can pay thousands of dollars a year in taxes to our local, state, and federal government officials, I can certainly give a few extra dollars to the people who dedicate their lives to providing high-quality service to the customers of the businesses they work for.
Anyway, after our initial experience with Antonio, over the next several weeks, Georgette and I ended up having him as our waiter on two more occasions. Each time he waited on us, I asked him how his girlfriend was, how her pregnancy was coming along, and how he liked Peoria. On the first of those occasions, I asked him if he was planning on getting engaged before Christmas. He repeated what he had previously said about wanting to save money to buy a house.
In response to his reason for waiting to get married, I told him the same thing I tell most young men I meet who have been living with their girlfriends and are unwilling to make a marital commitment. Here’s what I told him:
As a general rule, boys and men don’t like taking on responsibility and making commitments. I’ve always been that way. I would rather take the easy way out than travel the path of commitment and struggle, but I’ve found that after I finally decide to make a commitment to something I’ve been putting off, I’m usually happier and more content. When I avoid making a commitment that I know I should be making, I later regret my decision and pay a price for taking the easy way out.
Girls and women don’t usually have this problem. Most of them are willing to take on responsibility and make commitments, even though they know they are stepping out of their comfort zone and sacrificing some of their personal freedom.
I got married when I was 23 years old. At that time, I was still in school and it would have made sense to wait until I was out of school and working before I got married, but it was the best decision of my life.
You’re a really good guy and while it may make sense for you to wait, you owe it to yourself, the mother of your child, and your son or daughter to make a commitment to them and accept the responsibility that comes with being a husband and father. I can guarantee that if you make the commitment now rather than later, you will grow in wisdom and become a better person because of it.
Give it some thought. There are not very many people who would tell you what I’m telling you right now about commitment and responsibility. Do yourself a favor and give some serious thought to what I’ve told you.
Antonio reacted the same way that most young men react when I give that little speech. He listened attentively to what I said and told me he would give it some thought.
We had him as a waiter one time after that and I did not bring up the topic of marriage. While I will continue to show interest in his life, I will only occasionally bring up the topic of marriage, when the occasion arises.
Last month, when Georgette and I stopped by the restaurant to have dinner, we were greeted by the assistant manager who was in charge of seating people. Georgette asked him if he could seat us at a table on the main level. His response surprised us: Oh, I was going to seat you on the upper level because that’s where your favorite waiter is tonight. In response to his comment, Georgette told him that we would rather be on the main level. He did what she asked and escorted us to a table on the main level. (The air in the upper level is always warmer and stuffier than the air in the mail level.)
We were both surprised by the manager’s comment about our “favorite waiter.” Neither of us have ever told anyone at the restaurant that we have a favorite waiter or waitress. It occurred to me that the previous two times that we visited the restaurant, we were placed on the upper level where the waiter was assigned, and I immediately realized what was going on. When we checked out who was taking care of the upper level that evening, it was Antonio. He had obviously told the manager and assistant manager that we liked him and preferred him as a waiter because he wanted to make sure that when we showed up, he would be the one who was assigned to our table, so he would be the beneficiary of one of my generous tips.
After I realized what was going on, I thought about what Jesus said when he told the parable about the rich man who found out that one of his managers was wasting his goods. The rich man called in the manager and told him that he was letting the manager go and he wanted the manager to turn in his records. To assure that there would be people who would be willing to help him after he was fired, the manager went to each of the people who owed money to the rich man and reduced the amount of money that they owed. Jesus concluded the parable by saying,
And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater. If then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon; who will trust you with that which is the truth? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s; who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:8-13.)
I wonder how many other customers Antonio has targeted. The next time I see him, I do not plan on saying anything about his clever attempt to position himself to wait on a customer he knows will give him a generous tip. I will, however, continue to try to persuade him to “do the right thing” and make a lifetime commitment to the mother of his child. And yes, I will give him a generous tip as long as he is kind, respectful, and provides us with good service.
I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t do any good for me to try to bully or intimidate people into accepting and adopting my beliefs. I’m much more effective when I develop a relationship with someone and then, over time, use storytelling, reason, logic, facts, and humor to get them to willingly change the direction of their life.
It can take years to move someone in the direction they should be moving, but it’s worth the wait. My approach of trying to get other people to buy into my beliefs and Christian values is the opposite of the radicals who are in control of our public education system, our universities, the mainstream media, the global corporations, and the local, state, and federal governments. Instead of attempting to persuade people with honesty, reason, logic, facts, and humor, they use intimidation, shame, guilt, threats, and force to compel people to do, say, and believe what they command them to do, say, and believe.
One of the Spiritual Words of Mercy is, “Instruct the ignorant.” The key word is “instruct.” You cannot influence people by instructing them unless they know, like, and trust you, which can only be accomplished if you have a positive relationship with them.
God gave each of us a free will and the freedom to make our own decisions, regardless of whether those decisions take us in the wrong direction. You and I have an obligation to use the gifts God gave us to develop positive relationships with others so we can persuade them to adopt and practice a lifestyle that is based on Christian values.