# 26: I Can leave an outrageous tip the next time I receive excellent service from someone in the hospitality or service industry.

Week #9  summary: February 27th- March 4th

Have you ever searched for something and then realized that the first item, the first house, the first car (or insert item) that you stumbled upon was actually the best deal or the best experience you would encounter on your journey?

How many of us have bought the first car we looked at (beside my friend Clay)?  How many of us have bought the first home we visited? Or the first TV? Or the first person we dated (again, besides my friend Clay)? Very few of us. We often think there is always something better out there…

This week’s quest was to experience truly exceptional service in the hospitality industry and then reward that service with an “outrageous” tip. Many of the people working in this industry really depend on tips to make “ends meet” and I wanted to reward and incent truly great service.  I picked this week on purpose for because I knew that I would be traveling for business and would be visiting restaurants, staying at hotels, riding around in taxi’s, etc. quite a bit this week.  My plan was simple, I had a $50 bill in my wallet and I was committed to giving it to the first person who showed truly exceptional service.  I was going to be gone 6 days and 5 nights so I thought there would be no doubt I would give it away sooner than later.

Again, I kind of screwed up this week.  You see, I meet this person in the first hour of my trip waiting in the Atlanta airport.  There was a gentleman working the food court area in concourse “A” past the Dunkin Donuts.  It’s the area you can sit in that has a bunch of windows so you can watch the planes go by instead of staring at the floor or the wall or at a computer screen.  The man working in the area was probably in his 50’s or 60’s and he was cleaning tables, helping people with their trays, arranging seating, pulling out chairs, essentially providing 5-star service in a cafeteria style airport food court.  He was humming songs, sort of had a skip in his step and smiled all the time.  This man was truly providing excellent service, without really the need to do it, and seemed like he was having a good time.  I thought to myself that this could be the guy to get “the $50 tip” but then talked myself out of it because I still had 6 more days of travel and SURELY someone else would be equally as inspiring.  I gave him a $5 tip just because I was impressed but I talked myself out of giving him the $50 “outrageous” tip.

Man, I should have given him the money.

My travels took me to St. Thomas which is part of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI).  I was looking forward to my time on the island and thought it would be a GREAT place to experience exceptional service since tourism was the primary driver of their economy.  Boy, was I wrong.  Now, I am not saying the service was terrible it was just they really didn’t care one way or the other that we were there on business to spend money.  They brought food late (or cold).  They didn’t help or offer any recommendations unless they were repeatedly probed for their opinion. It took forever to get the bills. Hotel services were mediocre at best.  Frankly, no one really seemed to care.  They seemed, more than anything else, detached and uninterested to do their job.  I have a theory about why this is and I am going to research it.  Many of the other people I met on the trip felt the same way.  I was told by one person the reason the service kind of sucks is because many of the people receive some support of government (US) assistance thus they get their bills covered one way or the other.  I have yet to confirm whether or not this is true.  I sure hope it is NOT true, because if it is then some of my worst fears about an “entitlement” system and society might be manifesting in the lack of caring  or service because “it doesn’t matter if I perform, I still get my bills paid.”

I will be in the airport next week and I am going to find the guy in concourse A and give him the $50. I should have recognized greatness when I was first presented with it.