All across America, millions of people are sitting in thousands of restaurants, from mom-and-pop diners to chains, to the fanciest, most expensive steakhouses. People from all walks of life, of all faiths, creeds, races, and political leanings, dining together.
Of course, not all of these situations end as harmoniously as the sentiment would indicate. Indeed, when Rosalynd, a 25-year-old waitress from D.C., found herself waiting on three individuals with very different political views, she had no idea what to expect…
Rosalynd had always loved to dance. She loved it so much that when she grew up, her dream was to be a professional dancer. Finally, at twenty five, she became one. Unfortunately, dancers, even talented ones, rarely make enough money to pay the bills and Rosalynd needed a day job to supplement her passion.
So she took a job at the restaurant Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. It was a good job and it definitely helped to pay the rent, but the struggle was still there. The place was named after African American jazz poet Langston Hughes, who himself was a busboy at one point in his life. It attracted quite a crowd as well…
The restaurant, which is open to everyone, seems to embody a strong sense of community. Art, culture, and open political conversation are constants in the place. Frankly, anyone wandering in would be unsurprised to find that the space is as liberal as they come. But that’s a good thing for the restaurant’s regular patrons, who enjoy having a space for themselves.
Famous African Americans
Inside of busboys and Poets, massive wall paintings of famous African American icons and leaders like Obama, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman adorn the walls. Rosalynd, who herself is both African American and Liberal, was completely unprepared for the three individuals who wandered in one Monday morning…
On Monday, January 23, 2017, three men walked into Busboys and Poets, each one sporting a bright red, somewhat inflammatory, “Make America Great Again” hat. It was a clear indication to anyone looking that these men supported the Republican side of the debate and the newly-elected Republican president, Donald Trump.
The three men had actually flown into DC from their homes in Texas to attend the impending inauguration of their Republican hero, Donald Trump. While visiting our nation’s capital, they stopped at all the well-known landmarks and destinations, including Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 37-year-old Jason White, was the defacto leader of the group and had suggested the restaurant for lunch….
It was clear as day that the men were Trump fans, if only based on their hats. It was clear that they’d come for the inauguration three days earlier and not the Women’s March, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history allegedly aimed at President Donald Trump, due to the offensive statements he’d made about women: a protest Rosalynd herself attended.
It must have been a strange sight indeed to see Jason and his Republican friends enter the overtly Liberal establishment. But the three men were seated in Rosalynd’s section and she was destined to provide them with the same amount of service and courtesy that she would any other patrons. Though it wasn’t gonna be easy…
Anyone could see that these four people, the African American waitress and the three presumably conservative white, male patrons, came from very different walks of life, and that they had very different political views, specifically when it came to Trump. Despite this, Rosalynd put her judgment away and smiled politely as she did her job.
Stiffed on Tips
All in all, the men were pleasant enough customers. They didn’t cause any trouble or raise any ire. When the bill came, though, Rosalynd fully expected the men to stiff her on the tip. It was a petty thought of course, but it wasn’t unheard of in her line of work and she assumed that White and his friends were the type to do it…
Her assumptions, as it turned out, were entirely misplaced. Jason White footed the bill for the group and left the dancing waitress an astonishing $450 tip. She couldn’t believe her eyes at first. Maybe it was a mistake, she hadn’t given them any special treatment. Then, before she could try and chase after them, she read the attached note.
White’s note read, “We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like your beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people. Not race. Not gender. Just American. God Bless!” The gesture was remarkable, incredibly altruistic, and just what the doctor ordered for poor Rosalynd Harris. But why had he left it?
Jason White admitted afterwards that the main catalyst for the generous act was the inspiration he felt while walking around and visiting all the landmarks in Washington D.C. Indeed, spending time in a Liberal restaurant and being served by a kind young woman who treated them the same as anyone else, had moved him to be kind in return.
Of course, he had no idea how much the waitress truly needed the money either. With the waitressing gig being her second job, that little windfall would prove to be very useful in helping her keep her head above water for a while. And just as her actions had inspired kindness in Jason White, so too did his kindness inspire Rosalynd Harris…
Don’t Judge a Book
Jason White’s random act of kindness only solidified Rosalynd’s mentality to not judge a book by its cover; even if that cover is a “Make America Great Again” hat. She admits that at first, she didn’t think much of serving those men, but she refused to judge them by who and what they supported. It was a challenging moment, but one where goodness and respect won out over hate.
“This definitely reshaped my perspective. Republican, Democrat, and Liberal are all subcategories to what we are experiencing. It instills a lot of hope,” she explained afterwards. “The simple fact that he didn’t want to create a scene but just wanted to let me know that this was a great experience and this is what he hopes for people in general – it was very touching.” So touching in fact that she decided to share the story online…
The restaurant was similarly impressed by Jason White’s kindness and tweeted about the unique encounter. In a matter of minutes, they received a veritable wave of positive feedback, comments, likes, and retweets: from both Liberals and Conservatives alike. Pretty soon Jason recognized the restaurant and the waitress and weighed-in.
“As I sat there I thought about the entire weekend and I thought I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me,” White said afterwards. “But if most Americans have a preconceived perception about people then we’re never going to get better.” Indeed, Jason White is what many would consider a rare breed of Trump Supporter. He’s a man who believes in America itself…
Americans Are Americans
In the end, White wanted his act of generosity to speak for his experiences in the capital that weekend. His point was that Americans are all Americans, despite our differences in race, religion, and in this case in particular, in personal and political beliefs. His main point was respect. Rosalyn showed it to him, so he paid it back.
“We have to think about being better Americans, we have to look into ourselves and how we treat one another,” he added. “If everyone did a little something to show respect… we can love one another.” It’s an important lesson to cling to in these troubling times, where civil unrest and divergent beliefs are threatening to tear our great nation apart.