If you haven’t already done so, add gratitude to your New Year’s resolutions list, Hilton Head Islanders.
And while I don’t feel compelled to remind everyone why we should feel downright humbled to inhabit such a lush oasis in a world being torn apart by both natural and man-made disasters, I do feel it is my obligation — as both a former bartender and waitress locally — to urge all residents to manifest muchos gracias in 2017 to those who rely on tips for their mainstay income.
“But of course, I always tip well, Carmen,” I hear you thinking, no doubt with with due sanctimony.
Yes, of course we all do.
However, in the wake of our recent unwelcome visitor, Hurricane Matthew, there was some collateral damage left behind by this villain who came blustering through uninvited — damage besides the most obvious debris and destruction.
One such ripple effect has been the lost wages to an enormous island demographic — hospitality and service industry employees. As many already know, hotels and restaurants were closed for a month or more last fall as a result of evacuation and recovery efforts. Many places remained closed, even when utilities were up and running, and debris had been picked up, because other business components such as delivery trucks, employee transportation and insurance red tape kept some doors shut and some revenue from flowing.
It wasn’t just bartenders and servers who suffered the domino setback effect. Bellhops, car wash attendants, baristas, salon attendants — anyone who relies on tips in any way, for some, or all, of their income — suffered whiplash from the pile-up that was Matthew.
In our neck of the marsh, the caddies were hard at work at the golf club clearing debris and helping to get the golf course ready for members. But for several weeks, their pay was restricted to an hourly wage without tips, a hefty chunk that they normally rely on for groceries and gas. This financial setback also occurred after being closed for the evacuation and recovery weeks.
As I have discovered online, and anecdotally, some insurance companies have been none too forthcoming in reimbursing local businesses, homeowners or residents (that pretty much covers the homo sapiens extant species able to apply for storm coverage, I’m guessing), which has slowed the process of opening doors for a lot of people to do business.
That is another reason for those of us who are able to add a little extra (or a lot extra) to the bottom line, when tallying up after we belly up to the bar. Maybe slip a sawbuck to the bagboy instead of a crinkled up Washington the next time he hefts your Titleist Tour Staff bag out of your Cayenne Turbo S on Friday morning and into the back of the Club Car on which you’ll be cruising until about five past happy hour at the 19th Hole.
“Devastating” was written over and over on social media as friends and neighbors empathized with each other and posted pictures of their homes and lawns and disrupted lives.
“What can I do to help?” was also a common and most welcome theme.
All I kept thinking as I read the posts from people I knew, and some I knew only by name, is “thank you.” Gratitude for being alive and well, and healthy, yes. But even more, I am grateful to live in a community filled with such caring, compassionate, energetic people who are ready to jump in to help at a moment’s notice.
Seriously, a little will go a very long way in 2017.
So dig a bit deeper.
And be grateful.
I know I am.