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‘Tips for Jesus’: Waitress in ‘shock’ over customer’s $3,000 tip

Tips, tip jar
Unsplash/Blake Wisz

A waitress at a café in Pennsylvania says a man ordered a stromboli for about $13 but left a tip for $3,000 as part of the “Tips for Jesus” movement, which started about nine years ago.

Mariana Lambert, who works as a waitress at Alfredo’s Pizza Café in Scranton, spoke to the media last week, narrating how she experienced the generosity.

She said she relies on tips to make a living and was shocked, and happy, to see a customer leave her a $3,000 tip last month.

“It really meant a lot to me because everyone’s going through stuff. It really touched my heart. I still can’t believe it. I’m still in shock,” Lambert said, according to WNEP, which identified the generous man as Eric Smith, who's “from out of the area but travels to different places, leaving tips like the one he left Mariana as part of the social media trend called ‘Tips for Jesus.’”

Lambert said she would also now give a little extra tip when she goes out to eat.

“I know how it feels when you come in, and even if you can get a little bit extra. It really means a lot,” she was quoted as saying.

She added she might also use the money to pay some bills and possibly take a vacation with her family.

In 2015, Clint Spotleson, who worked as a bartender at a restaurant called Crudo in Phoenix, Arizona, received a combined $11,000 tip on two separate bills totaling just over $419.

“The first one he just filled out and left on the table,” Spotleson said, according to  The Arizona Republic. “Then he was like, ‘You know, I’ll have another round,’ Then the second one, he was like, ‘Let’s have fun with this one.’ And he said to his friend, ‘Put 10K on this one.’ And she was like, ‘OK.’”

Spotleson said at the time that he split the tip with another bartender on duty, the kitchen staff and a cocktail server and planned to use his portion to help him fix his car.

The customer was alleged to be former PayPal Vice-President Jack Selby, who had a home in nearby Paradise Valley and was outed the previous year as the man who runs the popular Instagram account called Tips for Jesus.

On the Instagram account, pictures are posted of the tips that Selby leaves, which he is said to usually tip between 250% to 600% of the bill when he dines out. The account is followed by over 75,000 people.

In 2017, The New York Post confirmed that Selby was behind the Instagram account. “Selby was spotted at Upper West Side bar Guyer’s, run by romance novel cover model Cindy Guyer, over the weekend ordering just over $100 in drinks — but he left a $5,000 tip.”

In 2014, a man, who was possibly Selby, spoke to San Francisco Magazine but didn’t allow it to reveal his name.

It’s not Christian generosity, he said.

“The movement we have started is intended to be agnostic,” he was quoted as saying. The magazine, however, doesn't explain what he meant by the word “agnostic.”

It all started in September 2013 at a bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after a college football game. The tipper, who was sipping his $1.90 coffee at the time of the interview, told the magazine. He said he and his friends had long been tipping generously, but they decided that afternoon to leave a $3,000 tip on an $87.98 check and to post a photo of the receipt to Instagram.

In just two months, he and his friends had given away $50,000, and the news had spread on the internet.

The tipper said he wanted to emphasize the concept of “direct giving to ordinary people.” It was started to promote a sort of ad hoc charity culture for those who might not like traditional philanthropy, although he himself has engaged with the latter.

“It’s just about helping people out,” he said. “It’s not hard to give back,” to tip a little extra, pay for someone else’s drink, engage in small acts of kindness, even if it’s at a level somewhere below tens of thousands of dollars. When justified by great service, magnanimous gratuities are achievable by everyone, no excuses.”

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