Tip the Schools

CC_Summer-Heights-High_Ja-mieThere is a story floating around Facebook today and it struck a chord with me because it took place in my home state (Kansas) and it also took place in a restaurant, the environment where I’ve earned my living for most of my 30 years in the work force. I love servers, I root for servers and Chloe Hough is no exception.

A teacher friend of mine shared Chloe Hough’s Facebook status update. If I understand the timeline correctly, her last table of the night at an establishment called Boss Hawg’s Barbecue and Catering Co.  was Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. She had previously given notice, last night was her last shift, so she asked friends on Facebook, what she should do or say with this opportunity. She received several suggestions, some of which, not surprisingly, were quite crude, but Chloe chose to drop the check, after running Brownback’s credit card, with the tip line crossed out and the succinct message, “Tip the Schools” written on the receipt.
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I don’t really know too much about the aftermath and I don’t know Chloe personally. (I do love that her Facebook background picture is the character Ja’mie from Chris Lilley’s brilliant Summer Heights High. If you don’t know it, please Google it.) I did find an article on a website called kansasexposed.org where several people left comments ranging between many “you go, girl”‘s to a “what a disrespectful woman.” Kansans, like everyone else, are full of opinions.

As a server who has waited on people who made my blood boil (Arnold Schwarzenegger, M.C. Hammer, Ann Coulter, to name a few) I know what it’s like to wish I could convey a message of disapproval to people whose public actions offend or negatively affect me. And goodness knows, I’ve spoken when I should have kept my mouth shut and zipped it when I should have stepped up, so sometimes it’s really only in retrospect that we know if we did the right thing.

A former teacher of mine, a Kansas teacher, commented on Facebook that he thought her actions were rude. And you know, I can kind of see his point. Will this really do anything good for the state of education in Kansas? I don’t know. But let me state the obvious, I hope it does.

Kansas is a funny state. Because I grew up there but have lived fairly far from there for the last 25 years, I have an interest and perspective on how the rest of the country sees the state. In simplest terms: not great.  It’s a state divided over marriage equality and gun control and abortion and apparently, even education. And I do understand why the religiosity of the state creates division for many issues, but I do not understand why Brownback chooses to add anti education to his reputation. Seriously, who thinks it’s a good idea to cut funding for public schools and higher education?

Of course, me being me, I’ve scoured the internet today looking for Brownback’s response. I haven’t found anything, but if you have the skinny, please send it to me. I wondered if Brownback left a tip anyway. I wondered if he embarked on a conversation with Chloe or perhaps spoke to a manager in hopes of getting her fired. I don’t know, more will be revealed.

But because I am a cockeyed optimist (well, sort of) from Kansas , I choose to see this as an invitation for a conversation. You know, maybe Brownback could look at this exchange and say, “Hey, I will look at this.” Maybe what happened last night could open a dialogue and a closer look. Maybe Brownback might say, “Enough! From this day forward, I am the pro education governor. Move over “ad astra per aspera” there is a new state motto: ‘Kansas, we LOVE education.'” I could even see a Showtime TV movie with Chris Cooper as Brownback and Jennifer Lawrence as the young waitress who dared to stand up and make a difference. And I know what you’re thinking, Jennifer Lawrence is too big to do television right now and you know what, you’re probably right. It will probably have to be the girl who plays the oldest daughter on Modern Family. But still, anything is possible.

So, I say, you go, Chloe! You made my day and I hope that Brownback takes your message in the spirit of constructive criticism and I hope all of this brings good things not just to you, but also to a state I love, a state I will always call home. Through hardships to the stars.

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