Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

Tipping tips from Mom

SUNDAY, August 8 – Breakfast on the hotel porch.  The boys walk back and forth. Omelet, Fruit Loops, bagels, toast, bacon, sausages, orange juice, coffee, watermelon, bananas. Boys love buffets.  There’s nothing for the waitress to do, but I still give her a big tip. It’s a great morning and her smile is worth it.

‘Papa, do you have to tip? Sander asks.

‘If the waitress ignores us, makes one mistake after the other, brings us something we didn’t order and then says it’s our fault,’ I say, and it’s happened to me more than once, ‘then I don’t have to give her a tip.’

‘But here we serve ourselves. Why does she get a tip?’

‘Because she brought the coffee and put the cutlery on the table, and she didn’t charge us for Eamonn’s breakfast. And besides, she has such a lovely smile.

‘And what if you hadn’t given her a tip?’

‘If Mom had been here, she would have boxed my ears.’

The boys laugh.

I explain how it works. If she does her work properly, she gets 15 percent, and if she’s very good and obviously enjoys her work, she gets 20 percent. Jenn worked as a waitress for years. She hated it, but she perfected the professional smile.

With his iPod Sander chases a tiny beetle under the napkin.

‘Don’t you dare kill that animal,’ I warn him.

‘It isn’t an animal. It’s an insect.’

‘Yes,’ I maintain. ‘But it’s also an animal. And in any case, a living creature. So you’d better be careful maybe it’s Mom, reincarnated into a beetle.’

Great hilarity.

‘No, I don’t believe that,’ says Eamonn.

‘Why not?’

‘Mom was much better than some beetle.’

‘Well, what do you think she turned into?’

Without a moment’s hesitation, he said ‘a llama’.

‘A llama?  Why a llama?’

‘That was her favorite animal.’

Eamonn pulls his mouth as wide open as he can and makes smacking noises. We laugh. The waitress comes over to our table. She smiles, too, without knowing why.

‘Was everything satisfactory?’

‘More than that,’ I say. ‘More than that.’

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