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Jun 13 2017
by Madalyn Deselem

Why I Started 'Reverse Tipping' and Paying for Customers' Food at Work

By Madalyn Deselem - Jun 13 2017

The one thing that has baffled me since becoming a barista is how few people tip. We tip other food service workers, but not baristas. We are asked to make absurd concoctions of drinks and we do it with a smile and a line out the door. Still, hardly anyone can bring themselves to tip. While this may be that our contact with the customer is pretty limited, it still hurts going home after a six-hour shift only to find $2 in tips in my pocket. I was always taught to tip whenever possible, and that it was simply the right thing to do. My first few weeks were discouraging for this reason. 

Before my shift last Tuesday, I went to the gym to work out. Having missed a sermon at church a week before, I decided to listen to the podcast while I exercised. During this message, my pastor discussed something called his "God pocket." Essentially, he keeps $100 in cash on him at all times and if he feels led to, he gives the money away to someone he encounters. That made me think: What if, instead of getting upset about how people don't tip, I instead reverse tipped by buying their drink? It's more fun for me to be positive anyway. And that was how #BaristaBlessings began.

Every time I go on break and buy my food, I also purchase the person in front of me's order. I simply say that I want to bless them, write #BaristaBlessings on their receipt, and tell them to have a nice day. Sometimes they are confused, other times they are overwhelmed with happiness. One reaction, however, stood out to me. After a stressed college student came to my register, I decided to purchase her piece of cheesecake. She thanked me several times and then went to sit down to study. When my shift ended, my manager brought me an envelope. Inside was a thank you card from the college student. 

Madalyn Deselem

In an ironic twist, my friend knew the girl who I had paid for and was friends with her on Facebook. The same day, she posted, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in the possession of time for studying and making lesson plans, must be in want of a barista giving her cheesecake and water for free #BaristaBlessing #TheLittleThings."

This is not something I do for recognition. This is not something I do in hopes of getting better tips. This is not something I do to show that I am a "better Christian." I simply believe that spreading kindness has the power to impact lives. That there is no room for unnecessary negativity. That my small actions can make a difference.

I challenge you to go out of your way to be kind to someone this week. Buy someone's coffee. Give a kind compliment. Offer help to someone who needs it. Anything is fair game. We as college students tend to think we are too young and poor to help others. That could not be further from the truth. A $3 piece of cheesecake helped to get this girl through her hours of studying. Knowing that someone cares can make the difference between having a great day and a horrible one. Let's be the generation that thinks more about others than ourselves. We have the potential to change the way society functions one kind gesture at a time. 

Lead Image Credit: Pixabay

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Madalyn Deselem - Purdue University

Madalyn is a freshman at Purdue University studying Biology with Pre-Medical advising with the hopes of becoming a dermatologist. She enjoys her jobs as a barista and a freelance tutor, hammocking in obscure locations, growing succulent plants, singing her heart out on stage, and working out at the gym. She is passionate about philanthropy and making a difference in the realm of mental illness awareness. You can find her on Twitter using the handle @maddie_deselem and on Instagram as @maddie.deselem

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