July 13, 2012

"A Kentucky man's family was able to satisfy his dying wish this week and give a local waitress an emotional surprise when they gave her a $500 tip on a pizza."

I loved this story — which includes a viral video of the delighted waitress — until I got to the part about the website using this video to collect donations which will purportedly be used to give more giant tips to unsuspecting waiters and waitresses. Yes, it's charming at first, including the dead guy's will:
“He left us a will full of his personality,” his brother Seth wrote in a July 9 post on a tribute website. “He asked that any debt he owed his parents be repaid should he have money in the bank at his death, but also had the following request: Third, leave an awesome tip (and I don’t mean 25%. I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress.”
I have no idea how sincere or trustworthy these people are, but they're getting massive publicity of the kind that can unleash torrents of donations. Remember all the pity in the form of money that flowed in to the bus monitor lady who had no idea how to monitor her bus? (Did you know she rejected the apologies the kids offered?)

Money sloshes around all over the internet. People get a kick out of tossing a few dollars into something that made their heart swell. The kick is real and probably better than the kick people get from buying a lottery ticket. Why raise suspicions when it's all about feelings? You might give money to a guy on the street who tells you a sob story or just asks for money in a way that amuses you. What's the difference? It's a free market.

Do you want more rationality in charity? Or is it all about feelings? 

33 comments:

prairie wind said...

Too bad the Kentucky guy didn't leave the tip himself. Much more fun that way. I don't see extravagant tips like that as charity, though. Aren't they more like just plain old generosity?

As for Karen Klein refusing the apologies, even people we feel sorry for can be jerks themselves. The kid made a nice apology and if she had accepted it, it would have been good for him.

MadisonMan said...

But was the pizza any good? How was the service?

Why not just give a stranger money? Tip=Wages and that means she'll have to (1) share it with the dishwasher and (2) pay taxes.

traditionalguy said...

What is it in a rational human heart that ever gives anything to anyone, that is the question you are asking.

Maybe it is learned behavior that we learned from dogs.

Controlling gifts is a lucrative High Priest function. Money left at death is a target of the Charities, Churches, and the IRS.

Obama's IRS can manage to ditch the unified credit of 5 million and revert it to 1.1 million by Obama doing nothing in December. That takes an extra 2 million from the inheritance of every family with 5 million in net worth.

The real answer lies in covenant relationships. Givers are not abused in a covenant that promises generosity from both sides.

Ann Althouse said...

"As for Karen Klein refusing the apologies, even people we feel sorry for can be jerks themselves. The kid made a nice apology and if she had accepted it, it would have been good for him."

She took the job that I think involved maintaining order on the bus, but she was unable or unwilling to do the job. She didn't apologize for her failure, but allowed herself to be portrayed as the victim. Meanwhile, kids were allowed to go bad, undisciplined, and they were then punished very severely in the court of public opinion. They tried to go right, by apologizing, but she publicly berated them as only behaving selfishly. Did she ever care about the welfare of children? She profited richly from people whose hostility toward children was stimulated, and she never showed us the way back to any kind of harmony.

Here's a quote from Father Flanagan: “I have never found a boy who really wanted to be bad."

Isn't that a good starting point?

Gahrie said...

Here's a quote from Father Flanagan: “I have never found a boy who really wanted to be bad."

Isn't that a good starting point?


Not anymore.

With the celebration and endorsement of thug culture today, boys (and an increasing number of girls) do want to be bad, or at least perceived as such.

Gahrie said...

She took the job that I think involved maintaining order on the bus, but she was unable or unwilling to do the job. She didn't apologize for her failure, but allowed herself to be portrayed as the victim. Meanwhile, kids were allowed to go bad, undisciplined, and they were then punished very severely in the court of public opinion

Do you want to bet that the bus monitor and bus driver reported the bad behavior of the kids on the bus and were ignored? At best the kids would have been given a detention, something kids today see as a cost of doing business.

She was under no obligation to accept their apologies for their deliberately cruel behavior.

Marshal said...

"As for Karen Klein refusing the apologies, even people we feel sorry for can be jerks themselves."

I don't think she was a jerk, the kid did it because his parents made him. The kids were horrible, why absolve them of their guilt?

I do want to support the Professors obvious but under-publicized point that Klein was completely incapable of performing her job. The next time the teachers union is whining about not having enough money think about the manifest incomptence of this this staffing decision. Her only purpose is to keep control of these kids and she cannot even respond to them.

I'm not saying it's easy, kids are jerks. But what is the point of paying someone to do something they can't actually do? Consider the complete lack of concern over both (a) the money and (b) the out of control situation. It's obvious the decision maker didn't care at all about whether the money was wasted or safety schieved, only that the box was checked.

This is the kind of useless management government encourages. Effectiveness takes a back seat to appearances.

Christopher in MA said...

Did you know she rejected the apologies the kids offered?

No, I didn't. And good for her. I guarantee you the little bastards only apologized for two reasons:

1. They were caught.
2. It made their parents look bad.

So she taught them a lesson. If you act like animals, just saying "my bad" afterwards doesn't make it better. A pity she can't sue every one of these thugs' families into bankruptcy.

William said...

He was underfed and anxious and hadn't bathed in a while. There are some people who look like they have never caught a single break in their entire lives, and he looked like one of them. I saw him exiting the supermarket where he had gotten six bucks for the mountain of empty cans he had collected. Generally I'm quite stoic in the face of other people's hardships, but there was something about the eager way he was counting those bills that moved me. I gave him a fiver and told him "enjoy". He took the money warily and said thanks without looking at me. I don't think his schemata of the universe included windfalls, however small.....Well, anyway, I got my five bucks worth out of it. I proved inconvertibly that we do not live in a hostile and indifferent universe.

Bender said...

I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza

"a f***ing pizza"? You mean like one of those pizzas you see in a porn movie? You open the box and . . . surprise!"

Well, $500 for that seems rather cheap, actually.

David R. Graham said...

"Do you want more rationality in charity? Or is it all about feelings."

The sloshing money mentioned is sentimentality or even "pathogenic altruism," not charity. Charity is hard work. Carnegie said so, correctly. Sentimentality has zero benefit for receiver and negative benefit for giver.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Did you know she [Bus monitor lady] rejected the apologies the kids offered?)

Good for her! The nasty little shits aren't sorry for what they did. They are only sorry that they actually got caught and they only apologized because they were made to do so. Those kids deserve being punished in the court of opinion and they are not deserving of her forgiveness for apologies that are not truly meant from the heart.

She is right to be skeptical about the money too. You don't live as long as she has without learning that things are not what they seem to be.

I'm not saying it's easy, kids are jerks. But what is the point of paying someone to do something they can't actually do?

Absolutely true. They should have hired some of these guys to make the little dipshits mind their manners.

edutcher said...

I can only presume he stiffed her (perhaps inadvertantly) at Christmas or when she was down on her luck.

The Blonde and I have gone back and given money to waitresses we've forgotten to tip.

m stone said...

What a downer thread this is!

Anything done in public, charity included, is always corrupted.

(Adding to the downer thread.)

tiger said...

Telling the waitress what was going on defeated the purpose, to me.

He should have given her the money for the bill WITH extra $500 and waited (or not) for any questions and told her (or not) and been on his way.

The way it is now these folks are very close to being attention whores.

tiger said...

And as for Klein declining the apologies?

Meh. Her call.

Those kids were little shiates and she is under no obligation to accept. Now if this was Fark there would be a dozen posts calling her out for not acting like a "Christian", which is a lot of crap. Personally I think those kids should have had a switch taken to them.

Yeah, I said it and more importantly I meant it.

Ann Althouse said...

"What a downer thread this is! Anything done in public, charity included, is always corrupted."

Jesus said: "When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Was Jesus a downer?

Ann Althouse said...

"Personally I think those kids should have had a switch taken to them."

Well, maybe. That's one approach to discipline, and it can be done by people with an intelligent and benevolent plan for raising good children.

My problem is the lack of a plan from the school bus lady that reflects an interest in reforming or improving the children. Did she ever try anything that had a chance of working? Did she ever show them any kindness? The video was edited to make us feel for her. The kids are faceless animals. Why is it acceptable to treat children like that?

Corporal punishment is another matter. It's certainly not acceptable as an expression of hatred and anger. If you want to defend it, it would have to be because it was an effective way to bring the children back in line.

Richard Dolan said...

"Do you want more rationality in charity? Or is it all about feelings?"

Here as elsewhere in life, one size doesn't fit all. So it depends -- on the situation, the charity, the amount, and on and on.

leslyn said...

Althouse, excellent post at 11:43.

For the naysayers: No, she was not under any "obligation" to accept an apology (unless you are a Christian.) But it would have been an excellent lesson in gracious and good human behavior, and would have beactivayed forgivness, which is a healing thing for both sides (meanness needs redemption too).

As for "their parents made them do it," good on them if they did. That doesn't invalidate the lesson.

I said in an earlier post that the woman would always remain a victim, because she's being enabled to be a victim--and apparently from this story, that's what's happening.

DADvocate said...

All I want to know is how I can get some of that easy Internet cash. Two kids in college, another will be in a couple of years. I can put whatever I get to good use.

DADvocate said...

“I have never found a boy who really wanted to be bad."

I've met a few who certainly seemed to want to be. When i was a juvenile probation officer, there was one whom I didn't care if he ever got out of correctional school. If it'd been up to me he'd stayed there forever.

Jim S. said...

Well, your money is an extension of yourself. What you do with your money reflects who you are. Since none of us are purely rational or purely emotional, I don't think what we do with our money can be reduced to one or the other either.

If you do something nice for someone, giving them your time or effort, say, rather than your money, is there always an equation going on in the back of your mind whether you could use that time or effort to help someone else who might need it more? There has to be a combination of helping people in such a way as to maximize your efforts effectively on the one hand and on the other helping those who are right in front of you.

Shanna said...

I guarantee you the little bastards only apologized for two reasons:

1. They were caught.
2. It made their parents look bad.


Indeed. Where was their restitution? Did they cut her grass and pull her weeds for a month? Actions say more than words.

bgates said...

took the job that I think involved maintaining order...was unable or unwilling to do the job....[D]idn't apologize for her failure, but allowed herself to be portrayed as the victim....She profited richly from people whose hostility...was stimulated, and she never showed us the way back to any kind of harmony.

Just keep telling yourself McCain would have been worse.

prairie wind said...

The kids were horrible, why absolve them of their guilt?

Because we aren't bullies? Because we know they are children?

I am sick and tired of all the earnest concern (and those incessant Facebook anti-bullying postings) about bullying. Bullying ever was and ever will be. The school workshops--for teachers, for students, for administration, for parents, for the general public--have done nothing but make sure we all have bullies in our sights.

This story brought out the worst in people everywhere. Those kids had death threats. Death threats! Adults making death threats against children. There is something wrong with that and yet people simply piled on. If we have learned ANYTHING from our bullying workshop, it is that threatening someone online is a Bad Thing.

How do those kids and their families recover from that? Don't we want those boys to recover, to be better people? I think some people really don't give a shit if these boys learn to be better people or not.

Don't be such a bully.

Althouse is absolutely correct. This woman wasn't doing what she was paid to do. She should have quit or been fired.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The kids were horrible, why absolve them of their guilt?

Because we aren't bullies? Because we know they are children?

At that age they are not children. Biologically they are young adults. Stunted young adults who get to act like children because we are indulgent as a society and refuse to hold anyone accountable for their own actions. Historically "children" of this age were taking on adult responsibilities. Alexander the Great was on his way to conquer Persia. They were having families, exploring the New World, starting businesses. Now I don't think we should be forcing these young men and women to this extent. BUT....they are not children or babies. They are young adults.

They should have known better than to act the way they did. Their parents have obviously failed to teach them how to be human beings or they just chose to act like a pack of amoral animals.

I think some people really don't give a shit if these boys learn to be better people or not.

If they don't know by now how to act like human beings, it is probably too late and all the fake groveling and phony apologies mean nothing. They have to really MEAN it and just mouthing the words and letting them get away with that is not helping them to be better.

What actions have they done to show that they are truly contrite?

Agreed. No one should be threatening or otherwise contacting the students. That IS bullying.


Althouse is absolutely correct. This woman wasn't doing what she was paid to do. She should have quit or been fired.


Perhaps so. However, what was required to keep these mini thugs in line would not be allowed. They need strict discipline, something they obviously have never experienced at home. A stern talking to and YES, even a swift one upside the head.

In our namby pamby ball-less society, anyone in that job position would be hampered and unable to do what needed to be done. Tell the little shits to sit down, shut up or else. Can't do that. Might hurt their itty bitty delicate feelings.

ndspinelli said...

Giving very generous tips is so rewarding to the giver, as are all kindnesses. It's a fucking shame more people don't realize that.

Joe said...

The kids were horrible, why absolve them of their guilt?

Who said anything about absolving them? But there is a thing called forgiveness and in correcting their behavior.

I'm reminded of one of my oldest daughter's vice-principals in junior high. During one argument he admitted to me that junior high students were always up to no good and could never be trusted. There are sociopaths out there, but my experience is that most kids are decent and if given respect will return that respect.

I'm left wondering just how much blood must be exacted for these kids, or anyone, to receive forgiveness. Or should they have a letter burned into their foreheads?

The parable of the mote and beam come to mind.

leslyn said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
The kids were horrible, why absolve them of their guilt?

Because you're a Christian? Or maybe you're not, I don't know.

Matt. 6:12. Mark 11:25, 26.

Marshal said...

Whining about forgiveness is bullshit. If you want them to grow make them think about it. Don't teach them that if you mumble a few platitudes everything is ok. These kids aren't scarred because she told them to kiss off. Get serious.

Obviously threats of any kind are completely out of line and death threats are unconscionable.

leslyn said...

ndspinelli said... Giving very generous tips is so rewarding to the giver, as are all kindnesses. It's a fucking shame more people don't realize that.

I was having lunch with a church worker the other day and we talked about the value of tithing. He told me he read a story by a reporter who decided to try this tithing thing for six months or a year to see what it was about.

At the end of that time the reporter wrote his story, concluding with the fact that he was still tithing, because he was afraid to go back and try living on more than 90% of his income.

LOL.

Jeff said...

Charity with other people's money is not a virtue. The guy did not leave $500 for a tip to a random waitress; his friends raised the money on the internet and they did the deed. But note that it wasn't their money, either. It was just another "Hey, look at me!" publicity stunt. Who cares?