The presidential inauguration may have added tension between some Republicans and Democrats, but one waitress who joined the Women’s March shared a surprisingly unifying moment with a Donald Trump-supporting customer this week.
Rosalynd Harris, a waitress at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., was serving a table of three white men Monday and assumed, based on their outfits (she says they were wearing trucker hats), that they were visiting from out of state and had come to town for Trump’s inauguration.
Harris, who had attended the Women’s March that weekend, chatted with the group and learned that they were from West Texas. They asked her about the restaurant, which is named after /www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/g_l/hughes/life.htm"}}">Langston Hughes, an African-American poet who /www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47558"}}">wrote moving literature about black identity in America. Then, Harris told The Huffington Post, they told her they’ve never experienced a place like it before.
The group left quietly after their meal, but when Harris went to pick up their check, she noticed a long note written on the receipt.
“We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues,” the note read, “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.”
Then Harris saw that they had left her a $450 tip on a $72.60 bill.
Jason White is a dentist from Lubbock, Texas, who left Harris the $450 tip.
He was indeed in D.C. for Trump’s inauguration and, on his way to his flight home, had stopped for lunch at Busboys and Poets ― a restaurant that features artwork and books by people of color and, according to Harris, usually attracts a liberal-minded clientele.
White told The Washington Post that he initially felt out of place at the restaurant but has since called the restaurant a “cool” and “unbelievable place” to local media.
The tip amount he left for Harris was a nod to Trump, the 45th president, and a symbol of all Americans moving forward together.
“It’s really our duty to make America great ourselves, not one person, but ourselves,” White told Washington news station WUSA9. “And that’s by respecting and loving one another no matter how much we disagree with them.”
Harris said that White seemed in awe of the restaurant, which she admits has a liberal and Democratic atmosphere.
He “was mystified by the experience, very, very grateful and open,” Harris told HuffPost. But she said that their conversation never turned political.
“The exchange wasn’t about President Trump,” she said. “It was [about] two people who were authentic with each other, who looked past these pre-judged views that could be misconstrued, and who saw each other and had a pleasant exchange.”
Harris also pointed out that neither she nor White published ― nor wanted to publish ― the receipt on social media. That was the work of her fellow employees.
Harris told HuffPost that she reconnected with White using FaceTime on Thursday. She said that they both didn’t appreciate how the now-viral story about the generous tip has become about race.
“I hope that people just don’t see it as this white guy helping this black girl,” Harris told HuffPost. “This gracious gesture came from a place of compassion and love, I honestly believe. It’s human.”
The note, which has now been widely shared across social media, is leaving an impression on many people, especially at a time when other servers in America are still receiving offensive notes on their receipts because of the color of their skin or their sexual identities.
Harris said this experience has shown her how important it is for Americans to be honest and kind to one another.
“We need to see the things that make us similar,” Harris said. “Because, yes, this is our president now. But how do we talk about working together now? The president is one person, but we are still a whole body of people ― an immense body of people.”