Tipping for service is often up for debate. In restaurants, some say the tip should be 20% of their meal’s cost, while others claim 15% will do the job.
But what about a 7,000% tip?
Welcome to the world of pay it forward, made famous by the movie of the same name starring Kevin Spacey.
A waitress in the Times Square area of New York City received a $3,000 tip on a bill of $43.50 by a regular who wished to be called “Mike.” No, he wasn’t insane. He developed a close bond with the waitress and, knowing that apartment rentals in the New York City area are very expensive, gave her the tip because she had been served an eviction notice. Mike told ABC News:
“This woman had been serving us for almost a year now. She’s a lovely individual, and she talked about how she was served an eviction notice last month, I just had also been constantly thinking about for quite some time my teacher’s project and this foundation, and I thought it was an appropriate time.”
Mike is referring to his eighth grade science teacher, Richard Specht. Specht’s 22-month-old son, Rees, tragically died in 2012 in the family’s backyard pond two days before Hurricane Sandy hit.
Locals helped the family after the hurricane by offering food and condolences. A landscaping company even redid the Specht’s yard for free, according to Yahoo Parenting.
Specht, who lives in Sound Beach, New York, told ABC News that he wanted to pay his neighbors back, but when no one wanted to take his money, he founded the pay it forward campaign in memory of his son Rees, whose full name is Richard Edwin-Ehmer Specht. Specht said, “If we couldn’t pay it back we’d pay it forward.”
Thus the foundation was started. He and his wife, Samantha, initially ordered 5,000 business card encouraging people to pay it forward. Since then, 100,000 cards were made and distributed worldwide. The card read, in part, “possession of this card is a solemn promise to pay it forward and perform a random act of kindness … please share the story of how you received this card.”
For now, the tip is the largest act of kindness so far. But each one, no matter how small, is important to Specht. “We lose track of the fact that it’s the small things we do that cumulatively make a difference. I want people to focus on those small acts so we can regain that sense of community and compassion and respect.”
In addition to the tip, the man left a note thanking the waitress for her “kindness and humility.”
It also said:
“My teacher in middle school had such a difficult experience a few years ago which has sparked me to do this. My only requirements are: 1) Go to ReesSpechtLife.com and learn. 2) Don’t let ‘Pay it forward’ end with you. 3) Since it’s about the idea and not about you, or me, if you decide to share this, don’t use either of our names!”
Specht was able to reconnect with his former student, now a Broadway performer, through Facebook. Specht said of the experience:
“I didn’t know what to say other than thank you. But I did say to him, ‘The single most important thing you did was put a smile on my wife’s face.’ When you lose a child you always carry that pain, and she had that smile that I want to see all the time. I was just so happy to see it.”