Wisdom Story – 131

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins.

“I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.


  1. Simon says

    Oh, how I wish everyone had the conscience of that little boy.

    I know of a man who is currently an equity salesman at a Swiss investment bank. Not only does he earn an obscene amount of money but he is also the beneficiary of wealth beyond imagination from a family trust that was set up by his ancestor who established a publishing company. On a trip to the US to visit companies with clients, he was staying at a hotel in Manhattan. When checking out, the bell hop (if that is the correct job description) hailed a cab for the man and his client and carried their bags to the car. That salesman then jumped into the cab without so much as a thank you to the young man who had assisted him. I hope he never does it again although, even after being berated by the cab driver for his mean spiritedness for most of the short trip, his attitude was that the remuneration of the bell hop was not his responsibilty :-(

    • Paul says


      Both the boy and equity salesman were trained by parents in how to behave. One set obviously did better than the other.


  2. Lynda says

    Gratitude for what we have been given opens our eyes to the joy of knowing we have been cared for and we want to care for others. This little boy learned that joy very young in life. He received much more joy and satisfaction from knowing that he had given generously to the waitress than the fleeting pleasure a sundae rather than plain ice cream would have provided. Gratitude is one of the important keys to living a “kingdom” life.

    • Paul says


      “Gratitude is one of the important keys to living a “kingdom” life.” It couldn’t be better said. Thank you.


  3. Katy says

    I love the story. Feel sorry for the waitress as I can well imagine how much she wishes she could replay that scene.

    Happy weekend.

  4. Denise J says

    Oh I pray this story like this can be told of my kids one day! I am going to do whatever I can to make sure they wait tables for at least some part of their lives, so they know what it is to have to live off tips. Hopefully they will learn the same lessons about gratitude and generosity their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. did.

    Happy weekend everybody. Hope you have a joyful Gaudete Sunday – a day to look at the world through rose-colored glasses!

  5. Jim says

    Denise, I agree. Everyone should work at least one low-prestige service job at some point. There’s nothing like waiting tables, cashiering at a fast-food counter, or cleaning bathrooms to make you realize that having a high-paying, prestigious job does not make it OK to look down on other people and treat them like malfunctioning robots.

  6. Emma says

    Reading this sweet story of childhood innocence, when the news broke of the school shooting in Connecticut . 18 kindergarteners dead, plus faculty :( Heartbreaking. I pray for these little innocents, their parents and all involved.

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