If you want to do something nice for a waitress, put the camera down.

You've probably seen videos on TikTok or Facebook of local waitresses being surprised by customers with huge tips during the holiday season. The footage usually always ends with the waitress breaking down and crying while the tipping customers pat themselves on the back for being such wonderful human beings.

These videos quickly go viral on social media, with people commenting on how heartwarming they are. Personally, they make me want to vomit.

Now please, don't get me wrong. I think it's an incredible act of kindness to surprise a server with a life-changing tip. I would never discourage anyone from spreading joy and happiness to someone down on their luck. In fact, it's something the world needs more of. But why do you have to film it?


I've seen these videos and can empathize with just how uncomfortable the servers who appear in them are as their hard-luck story is revealed on film for the whole world to see. The grins on the faces of the people surprising the waitress with hundreds of dollars in tip money seem to convey the feeling that they're more pleased with themselves than actually helping out a fellow human being. In one particular video that went viral this week, you can hear one of these do-gooders sarcastically saying "that should cover breakfast, huh?" as they force the waitress to count out the tip money in front of the camera.

Another video making the rounds features a server talking about living in a shelter and needing money to pay her first and last month's rent. Obviously unaware that customers were filming her, this person pours her heart out before being handed $600 in rent money. It's a beautiful gesture ruined by the fact that the person filming it is clearly on a quest to gain millions of TikTok followers.

Real charity and compassion shouldn't come with a condition that you need to star in some sort of reality show for the Internet's amusement. Just because your boss doesn't pay you a living wage doesn't mean you should be subject to having your sad story broadcast for the world to see.

Some argue that the popularity of these videos has encouraged others to be charitable. Perhaps, but does that really justify exploiting someone who is down on their luck? We spent three days this month broadcasting live at various locations around the Hudson Valley, encouraging listeners to donate gift cards to veterans. The response was incredible and we raised thousands in donations. This outpouring of compassion was achieved without shoving a camera in any of the veterans' faces, allowing them to use these generous gifts with dignity.

Other local businesses that are doing it right include Newburgh Brewing Company and Devitt's Nursery in New Windsor. Once again they've donated free Christmas trees to families struggling to get by in the City of Newburgh. Surprising these families by paying for their Christmas tree would easily make for some great social media video content, but that's not what these businesses have done. The names of the recipients are simply put on a secret list, and parents are told to just go and shop for their tree with their families as usual. There's no fanfare or attention made about it, allowing those who really need it the dignity of obtaining a Christmas tree just like everyone else.

It would be nice if the TikTok tippers would try to be more like these local companies and take a minute to think about the person they claim they're trying to help. Do these hard-working servers really want to be part of your viral post? Most likely not, but that's really hard to say after someone hands you $600.

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