Since graduating from college, I have wished for the opportunity to work as a server at a restaurant. It isn't something I think I would particularly enjoy. I have only wanted to be on the other side of tipping--to better appreciate the server's perspective and what is required to do their job well.
Being a paper girl has afforded me the experience of working in the service industry. While I have VERY little contact with my customers, my customers do enjoy the fruits of my labors EVERY SINGLE DAY. My customers consist of 140 newspaper subscribers. That isn't a lot, but it is enough. (Of those subscribers, three of them take the paper only on the weekend and two take the paper only on Sundays.)
Nine of my customers have requested that the paper be placed on their porch EVERY SINGLE DAY. One such request came with the added commentary, "Shouldn't be hard from St. James." I thought, "It shouldn't be hard for YOU!" In actuality, it requires my parking the car, walking up to their gate, and flinging it across their yard onto their porch. Honestly, it's a pain. But the real pain of it is that they have NEVER given me a tip--nor so much as an expression of gratitude. Apparently, they feel entitled to this extra bit of service.
Juxtapose this with a sweet woman who started subscribing several months ago. The subscription came with the request for her paper to be placed on her porch. Admittedly, I groaned inwardly. She lives on a circle where she is the only subscriber; plus, there is no straight shot from the road. The walkway up to her door requires that I walk up the driveway in order to get the paper in front of her door. Imagine my delight the first time she greeted me (in the wee morning hours) and placed a $20 bill in my hand and thanked me for my efforts in getting her paper on her doorstep every day. After that, I fairly floated up to her door to deliver her paper. The task was accomplished much more easily and proved satisfying, even fulfilling. I felt appreciated.
This dear woman has continued to leave a $20 bill in an envelope addressed to me once a month. On Christmas Eve she left a gift bag full of presents that proved to be a wonderful assortment of treats for my family to enjoy over the holidays.
When I think of tipping a paper girl $20 each month, I recognize how quickly that increases the cost of one's subscription. It probably hardly seems worth it. Then I realized that this woman doesn't view it as an extension of her cost, but as an expression of gratitude. She does it because she APPRECIATES my effort and wants me to know it.
Recognizing how much heartfelt gratitude serves to lighten a load or make a cumbersome task enjoyable, I would do well to look for more ways to show my gratitude for the many individuals who bless my life.