It's not about being rich, says man who made waitress cry with $2,000 tip

"We have two hands, one is to work hard and the other is to help others."

SINGAPORE (STOMP) - A waitress was moved to tears after a customer gave her a tip of $2,000 - nearly three times her monthly salary.

The waitress, a single mother of two young children, shared her story on citizen journalism website Stomp recently.

The 37-year-old, who asked for her name not to be used and gave only her initials XYW, arrived in Singapore from Penang a decade ago and has struggled to make ends meet since her divorce in 2012.

"My ex-husband, a Singaporean, left me for a woman from China," she told Stomp.

She does odd jobs such as cleaning houses and washing clothes in the day, while her nights are spent toiling away at a steamboat restaurant in Katong.

She said: "As I am a permanent resident, I have very few subsidies."


Mr Atwell Tay,  32, moved a waitress to tears when he gave her a tip of $2,000 - nearly thrice her monthly pay. PHOTO: STOMP

"My take-home salary from the restaurant is $700 plus while I can earn $50 for every home I clean (about four hours each time). Sometimes, I have to clean up to 20 houses a month," said the woman.

Despite her hard work, she recently hit a rough patch and did not have enough to pay for her children's school fees.

But the generous $2,000 tip in cash from a regular customer helped her tide over the crisis.

XYW initially thought the extra cash was a "mistake", as the customer's bill was only $66. She broke down in tears when she realised that it was meant as a tip.

Stomp got in touch with the customer, Mr Atwell Tay, who said he felt compelled to give the tip.

"My family is also in the food and beverage business, so I know what a tough industry it can be, having helped my father in the kitchen before. It requires a lot of energy and can be very stressful.

"She (XYW) is also a very hardworking person, and this is a quality that's hard to find in Singapore nowadays. I appreciate and am impressed by people who work hard instead of stretching their hands out to ask for money," said the 32-year-old oil trader.

Mr Tay, who was at the restaurant with his wife and oldest daughter, encouraged XYW to stay strong and continue to give her best.

Strong family values

Mr Tay's love for his family is evident from the way he spoke about them during his exclusive video interview with Stomp.

His main motivation for helping others comes from wanting to be a role model for his three daughters: "Being humble is a virtue and I want them to see that."

"We have two hands, one is to work hard and the other is to help others," he said.

It is something his mother taught him when he was 19 and had yet to perform national service.

Admitting that he went through a rebellious streak during his teenage years, Mr Tay said: "She told me I could do whatever I want, but to always have commitment and consistency, or one would never succeed."

Generosity =/= wealth

Mr Tay first made headlines in 2015 after being given a flashy Lotus supercar by his mother for his birthday that year.

But in response to critics who think that his family background allows him to be generous, Mr Tay pointed out that lending a helping hand and being well off are different things.

"Coming from a poor family and becoming rich doesn't mean you will end up helping everyone. Neither does coming from a rich family and being successful mean you will help other people. It all boils down to the individual," he shared.

XYW said she was very moved by Mr Tay's action.

She told Stomp: "He visits the restaurant about thrice a week, always in a different car.

"However, I am really touched because he always clears his own plates, telling my colleagues that it's okay and to relax.

"Whenever I serve wealthy people, they are usually very proud. But Mr Tay is humble and always greets us, saying thank you and everything."

Mr Tay, who is also a venture capitalist, said that some people had previously  taken advantage of his kindness and generosity.

But he remains undeterred and wants to act as an inspiration for the younger generation.

When presented with a Stomp Goody Bag, Mr Tay said he would donate it to his daughter's school.

"I would like to donate the Goody Bag to someone else because I am not here for the publicity. I'm here because I hope that more people in our generation can work hard."