The other night, I pulled up to a house for a late delivery run.
The house and lawn were run down. They all look that way in March, of course, as the snow melts. But the interior didn’t look much better, dirty and unkempt, as I peered through the curtain-less sliding door.
I knocked and saw the lone occupant – an elderly man with a beard that would make ZZ Top raise their guitars in salute – rise slowly from his chair. He was using a cane.
This’ll be a stiff, I thought, steeling myself to be fine with no tip. Customers of this profile were often cantankerous. Sometimes, you could argue that life had given them reason to be. Yeah, you could argue that if you lack the money to tip, you lack the money to order pizza in the first place, and maybe that argument works for the folks who order thrice a week without ever tipping. But sometimes a man’s gotta live, you know? So I was good either way. (And just to be clear, I never ask for tips. Bad form.)
The door opened. The man’s eyes crinkled with a shy warmth. A small cat had padded in front of him to the door, almost as if guiding him there.
I greeted him enthusiastically, quoted the price, and he presented a hundred dollar bill. “I’m sorry I don’t have smaller bills,” stammered the man. “I told ’em that when I called…can you make change?”