The 20 Dollar Magician
by WHO on Aug-22-2003

There is a couple that comes into my restaurant twice a week. They complain about the food every time, try to convince the manager to give it to them for free, and they NEVER leave a tip. Ever. Finally, my manager got sick of giving them so much free food and started refusing. The couple quit complaining, but they still refuse to leave a tip. We (the wait staff) tolerate them because we all assume that they are mildly retarded. So, every time they come in, we take turns waiting on them.

A couple of days ago, it was my turn to take the hit. As they were being seated, I was strategizing on how I could feed them, water them, and get them out of the restaurant as quickly as possible. Thirty minutes later, I was successful and even though I had hoped against hope, they did not leave me so much as a penny for a tip.

I shrugged it off and set about collecting the bill from another table of mine. The woman was trying to rid herself of all the dollar bills in her purse and was absentmindedly counting them out on the table in front of me. Well, a 20 got stuck behind one of the ones and she didn’t notice. I didn’t say a word.

Finally finished, she pushed the pile over to me and said, “Keep the change.”

I thought to myself: Score! This will make up for the retard couple!

But for reasons I can’t explain, I lifted up the ones like a magician, revealing the prize 20 dollar bill…POW!

“Are you sure?” I asked, “Because there is a 20 under here.”

“Oh no!” the woman replied thankfully, “I didn’t see that!”

I smile a big smile and think to myself that it’s a great feeling to do a good deed. Then the woman opened up her purse and said, “Wait! I still have to tip you!”

I’m feeling very good indeed.

She searches through her purse for a minute and then hands me a single dollar bill. ONE DOLLAR BILL. Less than 5% of her entire check.

Suddenly, I don’t feel so good anymore. And I learned one very simple truth about this world:

Being honest doesn’t pay.

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