It has been a rotten week in every way. My good friend and mentor, legal ethics expert/ attorney/ professor/performer David Austern died, leaving me with memories of how much he meant to my life, and how inadequately I thanked him. My son has been off on his first extended road trip without us, giving his mother and I a preview of how much we will miss him as he prepares to leave the nest. And, of course, I simultaneously watched our government fulfill my most pessimistic predictions as it appeared to fairly shamelessly embrace lies and abuse of power as legitimate tools of governance, and lost respect for many, many people I had once thought better of for not only excusing the inexcusable, but embracing a looming threat to democracy.
Depressing, discouraging, frightening, and rotten through and through.
I need a break.
I need hope.
Thank you, Miss Jo, whoever you are.
All we know about “Miss Jo” is this, but it is enough: She is a regular customer at a Steak ‘n Shake restaurant in Indianapolis, and spontaneously left a $446 tip on a $5.97 bill for CeCe Bruce, a regular waitress there. You can read the whole story here.
It may not be a kidney, but this is a non-random act of kindness that should make us stop and think. We all pay for outrageously undeserved bonuses for disgraced financial managers and corporate executives, as well as unconscionable government bonuses, like the $103,390 handed out just for the hell of it to the IRS manager during the years she presided over the agency’s “cripple the Tea Party” operation. Her section gave, according to Congressional testimony, “horrible customer service,” yet many Americans who give wonderful customer service never get bonuses of any kind from their appreciative public—secretaries, clerks, janitors, many others. What “Miss Jo” did for CeCe was to show real appreciation in a way that all of these people should experience on a regular basis. This wasn’t just an eccentric gesture. That tip was a genuine and apparently well-earned expression of thanks from someone whose days have been made a little bit more pleasant and endurable, thanks to the dedication and care of one of those invisible people we all depend on.
I don’t have a lot of money to throw around, but I can think of at least three people who have been to our family what CeCe Bruce has been to “Miss Jo,” and all I have ever given them was a handshake and some thank-yous, if that. They each deserve a bonus, and before 2013 is out, I’m going to give them one.
There’s no question that they’ve earned it.
Facts: WRCB TV
Graphic: WRBC TV