I feel like I owe you a pick-me-up after this afternoon's enraging downer about the seemingly unbridgeable nastiness and polarization that has poisoned American politics. Fox News files this in their "good news" column, which certainly seems like an apt description. Here's the scene: A group of white male Trump supporters, in town for the inauguration, sits down at a restaurant in Washington DC, where they encounter their server -- a black woman who is no fan of the new president. And to get ultra-clickbaity, you won't believe what happened next:
Rosalynd Harris, who works at Busboys and Poets in the northwest part of the nation’s capital, told The Washington Post she was beaming with confidence Monday after taking part in the Women’s March over the weekend. A group of men from west Texas entered the restaurant and started to chat with Harris. One of the men, who said he was a dentist, complimented her on her smile. Harris, who is black, told the Post she was admittedly a bit prejudice when the men, who were white, told her they were in town to support Trump. After the men had left, Harris picked up their check and found that they left a heartwarming message and a generous tip. They left Harris a $450 tip on a $72.60 bill. Their message read: “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. Not race. Not gender. Just American. God Bless!"
The eatery tweeted out the uplifting proof:
We rise by lifting others. A lovely act of kindness pic.twitter.com/S01SV3w8ts— Busboys and Poets (@busboysandpoets) January 24, 2017
The $450 tip was a nod to the 45th president, according to Jason White, the man who left it. The Washington Post interviewed an "overwhelmed" Harris, who said she learned a wonderful lesson from the interaction:
“You automatically assume if someone supports Trump that they have ideas about you, but [the customers are] more embracing than even some of my more liberal friends, and there was a real authenticity in our exchange,” she told the paper. Harris added that the message was a great reminder not to make assumptions and that many Americans want the country to come together regardless of politics.
What's best about this story, I think, is that it cuts against both the dominant narrative about America's fraying culture, as well as a spate of "no tip, mean note" hoaxes perpetrated to make a certain group of people (usually conservatives) look bad. This was an genuine act of kindness and authentic coexistence -- and it makes everyone involved look good. I rarely quote from social media comments, but one of my Facebook friends reacted to this story rather eloquently:
Basically, there are a couple of realities we are all living in this country. One is the day to day interactions, relationships, and environment--nothing in law limits access according to identity, people get on with each other. We remember the stupid things some people have said and done because they are so much the exception to the rule whether out of prejudice, ignorance, fear or pride. And then there is the reality we are told about by what we learn from others, what we soak in from media and culture, and is debated about in politics. So much of this a distortion of reality that many take with them and cloud our choices-- including how we expect others to be monsters in one way or another. In some ways the hatred explains things, empowers or exploits us-- and many choose to ignore or deny the first reality.
Well said. Smile, everyone, and God bless America.