‘Not race. Not gender. Just American’: White men leave uplifting note, huge tip for black waitress

Rosalynd Harris (above) was overwhelmed by the customers' words and generosity.
Rosalynd Harris (above) was overwhelmed by the customers' words and generosity.PHOTO: WASHINGTON POST/ROSALYND HARRIS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Rosalynd Harris arrived at work on Monday morning still high off the energy from the Women’s March. She is a waitress at Busboys and Poets, a Washington restaurant with a distinct social justice mission, and her customers on Saturday (Jan 21) had been a abuzz with an optimism that was contagious.

So she was especially cheery when she greeted a table of three white men in her section mid-morning. They chatted warmly. They told her they were from West Texas. One was a dentist and complimented her on her smile. They were jovial and fun.

She admits now that she probably prejudged them, assuming they were in town for US President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

And based on the note they left her, she was probably right.

When the men finished their meals, they left Harris, a 25-year-old African American woman, a personal message on the receipt that noted their apparent differences. They also left her a US$450 (S$640) tip on their US$72.60 bill —  nearly a 625 per cent tip.

“We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like your beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people,” the note reads. “Not race. Not gender. Just American.” Then they added, “God Bless!”

The men were gone before Harris saw the receipt. She read the words before she saw the tip, and the words alone were enough to overwhelm her.

“You automatically assume if someone supports Trump that they have ideas about you,” she said, “but (the customer was) more embracing than even some of my more liberal friends, and there was a real authenticity in our exchange.”

The windfall also came at a time when Harris could really use it, she said.

A professional dancer, she started waitressing about a year-and-a-half ago to make extra money to pay her bills. She needs to move to a new apartment soon and has worried about how she will have enough cash to pay any upfront costs.

She scheduled herself to work extra shifts to ensure she had enough, and the extra US$450 is “a huge weight off my shoulders,” she said.

But she said the men left her with so much more. Their words were a reminder not to make assumptions. And that so many Americans want unity, regardless of their politics, and to not be afraid to connect with someone as human beings, she said.

“This definitely reshaped my perspective. Republican, Democrat, liberal are all subcategories to what we are experiencing,” she said.

“It instills a lot of hope.”