One for all

A couple of nights ago, I had dinner plans with my staff and a visiting colleague. The colleague and I arrived about 30 minutes early, so we ducked into the adjacent bar to have a glass of wine while we waited for the others to arrive.

Twenty minutes and two coworkers later, we decided it was time to move to our table. I signaled the server and told her that we were ready to settle our tab. Graciously, she asked whether I preferred to close out my tab with her or to transfer it to our dinner bill. She said she wanted to do whatever was easier for me.

Of course, paying a single bill instead of two was the obvious answer. However, I also knew that if I transferred the tab to the dinner side of the restaurant, she wouldn’t receive any of the tip, and I effectively told her that. I wanted to make sure she was fairly compensated. Her response? I want to do what is easiest for you. It’s only one round of drinks. It’s okay–really.

I love, love, love it when people embrace big picture outcomes, understanding the trade-offs between long- and short-term success. That server clearly grasped that doing what is best for the customer is what will keep that restaurant successful, even if it meant a short-term tweak to her tip jar. Two days later, I’m still ruminating on her considerate gesture.

One for all, and all for one.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we both got what we wanted. I transferred the tab to the restaurant, but I handed her a cash tip before I left the bar. She deserved it.

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