Yesterday, I heard a radio announcer tell about some famous person who left a 1,000 tip for a waitress at a restaurant where he had just eaten a meal. Wow! Great, right?!
Yes and no. While it’s great that he completed this generous and seemingly random act, it should have stopped there. Instead, he took a photo of the food bill with his $1,000.00 tip added in. Then, he posted it online. This is where I lost it.
This was not really a selfless act of kindness! Instead, it was a self serving act of promotion. In my opinion it would have been better if he had left the same generous tip for the waitress and not tell the world about it. In my opinion, he negated his generosity by getting something (notoriety, press time, celebrity, etc.) out of it himself.
This shouts, “I am a good person. I left a 1,000.00 tip for my waitress. See what I did.” For me, this is a turn off. Many people, the world over, do generous things all the time for others. Gifts of money, time, food, clothing, shelter….the list could go on and on. And, we don’t know about it. We don’t have to.
These acts should make two people feel good – the giver and the recipient. To pat one’s self on the back and broadcast what good you did to the world, diminishes the act. I think it’s different if the recipient publicly shares what happened to them. You know, something along the lines of, “I was at work, just doing my job, and a customer left me a huge tip! I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked and grateful.”
But, to have the doer of the deed tell everyone what they did is just not necessary. Yes, I believe there are angels among us. These are everyday people who do extraordinary things for others. I am sure we all know some of these people. Maybe, you are even one of them. In truth, I hope there are lots of “givers” out there.
But, what truly makes these generous gift givers exceptional is that they keep their good deeds to themselves. We don’t need to know. They, the gifters, know what they did. Hopefully, their “reward” is that it fills them with warmth, knowing they helped a fellow human being. Beyond that, if it is really a gift from the heart – really an act of unselfless kindness – no one else needs to know or should have to know about it.
It’s been my experience that people seem to have a need to “tell” about their kind acts. Even young pre-teens, high school athletes, and those in service organizations feel the need to “tell” or “show” what they did to be kind. I think its been augmented by the availability and dependence on social media. And, it’s not right.
We should be encouraging our youth to do kind acts and help others because it is the right thing to do, not because it will get them notoriety or something else in return. An argument could be made that the promotion of these acts can serve as an impetus for others to act in the same way. Maybe. But, I still think those closest to the gifter could just be told or included in the gift giving and leave it at that.
When my husband and I heard of this story on the radio, did we think it was kind and generous? Yes. Could we understand this person wanting to tell someone what they did? Yes. But, we both agreed that the giver of the tip could have just gone home and told his wife/family/significant other about it. Something like, “Hey, I wanted to help a stranger and left a $1,000.00 for them at the restaurant.” But, the act of taking a photo of the bill with the tip attached and posting it for the world to see on social media (and, then, be heard on the radio) spoke more of self-impressedness and self promotion than of generosity.
So, if you really want to help someone this holiday season or in the future, just do it.
And, then, don’t tell.