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Tipping Away From Generosity

It was our first night in Mexico. We were tired after a day of travel. And we certainly didn’t feel like cooking. So we went out to eat.

A few minutes walk from the place we were staying at, we found a little restaurant.

The food was delicious. Fresh vegetables and greens covered the plate. The fish had been caught locally that morning. Four kinds of salsa accompanied the meal – I liked the spicy one best.

And the service matched the food. They accommodated our daughter with a high chair. They offered quality recommendations. They were friendly.

We finished the meal satisfied.

Settling the bill, we weren’t sure about the tip. What were we supposed to give? Is it less than the US? Or none at all? We ended up giving a small bit – around 7% – and headed out.


The next day we again ate out.

This restaurant also served us well. The owner stacked two chairs for our daughter so she could sit high at the table. He joked with us. And the food left us feeling satisfied.

But we still didn’t know whether to tip or not. And the bill came out to be more than we expected – leaving us a bit flustered. We walked out without giving any tip.


Later, we found out our error. Tips are supposed to be the same as the US – 15% for good service, more if you were really happy. We’d underpaid in both places.

On the surface, I can explain our mistake. We didn’t know. We were tired. We had a daughter who was cranky. We got flustered. It wasn’t that much money.

Those are valid reasons. But there’s a problem.

When in a situation of ignorance, I defaulted to being stingy – to holding back. I acted from a mindset of scarcity – of hoarding my limited resources.

That’s not how I want to live. It’s the opposite of how I want to live.

My desire is for generosity to be my mindset, my core value, and my way of looking at the world. I want to give with abundance. Everything I have is a gift I don’t deserve, and I want to be open and free with what I’ve been given.

Yes, that still means being wise and discerning with my giving. But in a case like this, why not just give a big tip anyways? The cost to me is so minimal.

The warning is welcome though. I’m grateful to have recognized my drift. Now I can heed it. I can become more deliberate and proactive about being generous.

What about you? Have you ever drifted from a core value? What warning signs brought you back?


We made amends at both restaurants. For the first place, we ate there another time and gave an overly generous tip. With the second place, we stopped by and left the tip we should have left.

It’s a start I’m shifting back toward generosity.