Like most of my fellow actors in New York I was "between jobs" and making ends meet as a lunch waiter in a small high quality Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. I was a lousy waiter. I enjoyed the customers and didn't mind the work, but my ADD kept me from coordinating all the details a good waiter needs to coordinate. I was doing my best and scraping by on a few kind tips before they had the good sense to terminate my employment, but on my final shift something interesting happened.
I was waiting on an attractive African American couple, a man and a lady who seemed to be on a "first date." Perhaps it was his intense attention to her and her slight controlled discomfort that made me believe so.
When it came time to order, he made certain that her order was exactly, precisely what she wanted. Then for himself he ordered a glass of water and some lemon slices...and asked for more bread. OK...no problem; I'm a starving actor, maybe he is too. The lemonade he made for himself and bread was free and he was buying a meal for the lady, that was alright with me. I had to admire his boldness and sympathized with his situation. But as the lunch hour began to wane, and I saw him stacking coins on the table I began to get a little perturbed. He was counting out the exact change for the lunch and it wasn't likely to include a tip.
As his "date" stood to go to the restroom I walked up to the table to collect the coins. This man then turned his attention to me and saw the look on my face. He said, "What's the problem, all the money is there." "It's customary to include a tip," I said through a slight smirk as I counted the coins into my hand.
Without blinking he replied, "I have a tip for you; shake my hand." I looked at him as though I didn't want trouble and began to dismiss him as though I didn't need his "tip" whatever he intended by it. I turned to head back to the register but he followed me and holding his hand out said again; "Shake my hand."
Reasoning briefly I decided to just go along with it. I puffed through my nose, and grabbed his hand for a quick shake.
To my surprise, he pulled his hand away and said, "That's not a hand shake." He had my attention. In my momentary silence, he spoke again; "You want your tip, hold out your hand." Can you believe I really didn't want to? But his gaze was not threatening, his lady friend had returned to witness this tiny event, and I simply obeyed.
"Now this is a handshake," he said as his hand reached for mine. "You see, the webs of our thumbs meet, that's how we know we're touching one another...then we look right into each others eyes and allow our hands to embrace...not too hard to prove we're macho, just like this, you see?"
A slight smile had come over his face as he noticed; I had gotten the connection!
This was the best tip I ever got as a waiter; and one of the best in my life.
Submitted by Anonymous