“I was having a business lunch once, early on in my career in Atlanta, back when I was still a little wet behind the ears. It was a boss-employee kind of thing—casual, but we still had to mind our manners, ya know?”
“Yeah. Go on.”
“Well, my boss and I ate lunch, and I took cues from him about what to order. He had a beer, so I ordered one as well. Since I figured he was gonna be picking up the tab, I took it easy and just got ordered a draft domestic and a light meal. We had a few bites and a few drinks and a little talk, and everything went fine. He picked up the check, and even though I offered to pay my share, he wouldn’t have it. I offered to at least pay the tip, and he got a little offended, so I shrugged and put away my
“Well, he sounds like a pretty selfless guy,” Robbie said.
“Not really,” Sebastian said, pausing to reflect on the event that had taken place two decades prior, one that had left a lasting impression on him. “I couldn’t believe the tip he laid down,” he explained with a touch of disapproval. “A buck on a forty-dollar tab. That girl had really busted her butt for us, so it pissed me off. But really, there was nothing I could say. I mean, that was my boss, and I didn’t want to offend him. We got up and left the table, but halfway to the door, I lied and said I’d dropped my keys or something, then flew back to the table. I was just laying a five-dollar bill down to add to his pathetic excuse for a tip when the waitress showed up. She saw me and came over to me. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but she said, ‘Sir, you don’t know how much I appreciate this. My gas tank is nearly empty, and the rent is late. Every dollar will really help today, and you just help put me over the top.’ I grumbled something nice and congratulated her and walked away.”
“You just walked away? Just like that?”
“Well, what was I supposed to say to that? But anyway, it’s always stayed with me. It was just five bucks to me, and I’d just gotten a free lunch, so why would I care? But that measly few dollars meant gas money to her. You just don’t ever know how much of a difference a few bucks can make for somebody, and I’ve never forgotten that.”