The Boy and the Sundae

Many years ago, a 10-year-old boy walked up to the counter of a soda shop and climbed onto a stool. He caught the eye of the waitress and asked, “How much is an ice cream sundae?”

“Fifty cents,” the waitress replied. The boy reached into his pockets, pulled out a handful of change, and began counting. The waitress frowned impatiently. After all, she had other customers to wait on.

The boy squinted up at the waitress. “How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he asked. The waitress sighed and rolled her eyes. “Thirty-five cents,” she said with a note of irritation.

Again, the boy counted his coins. At last, he said, “I’ll have the plain ice cream, please.” He put a quarter and two nickels on the counter. The waitress took the coins, brought the ice cream, and walked away.

About ten minutes later, she returned and found the ice cream dish empty. The boy was gone. She picked up the empty dish—then swallowed hard.

There on the counter, next to the wet spot where the dish had been, were two nickels and five pennies. The boy had had enough for a sundae, but he had ordered plain ice cream so he could leave her a tip.

In a world that constantly tells us to get all we can, every so often it’s important to be reminded of the power of generosity.

Source: Mr. Little John’s Secrets to a Lifetime of Success

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Christine says

    Halfway through the story I said to myself, “He is going to use the money for a tip!” This story is adorable. Thank you for posting it – I think we can all learn something from it!

  2. heather says

    children being more gracious than adults always puts me on the verge of tears, for some reason. i guess it gives me hope about the future of humanity…

  3. says

    There are countries where giving tips is not mandatory – it is even rare thing to do. Only some social pressure about customs imported form other countries make people give tips.

    I pity the boy – he gave too big tip, he gave it to waitress who was impatient and rolling her eyes, and he did not eat his sundae :(

  4. M says

    I swallowed hard too – thanks for sharing that one.

    I didn’t see it coming – maybe because I’m Aussie and we don’t tip here.

  5. Zane says

    Wow if i was the waiter i would have probably given the kid a heavy sundae for free. and not worried about the tip .. damg now thats what i would call humanity .. who would be expecting a tip for a young kid. I would rather make the young kid happy with out expecting him to use all his money. I do not see any significance for this story . there is no moral value to it .. the only thing i get from this is … its all about the money it does not matter if you are a kid . you have to pay for a service .. zero slack.

  6. Dante Iscariot says

    This actually made me cry and I’m not entirely sure why exactly my reaction is so strong.

  7. Merri says

    Just found your blog. What a beautiful entry. Extraordinary child, with an equally extraordinary mother in the background. We should all strive to get this vignette out to everyone we know.

    • jon says

      I heard his mother had run out before he could remember her. It was his dad raising him with such a generous spirit.


  8. Nancy says

    Some of you are missing the bigger picture. This little boy already had kindness in his heart – he was there to pass that kindness on to the waitress, who obviously needed it!

    • Jeannie says

      I think the point of this post is that ‘we can all learn from it’ whether we are the impatient waitress or the generous giver and take what we need from this story as I am am sure it really spoke to all of us in different ways… Thanks Joshua!! :)

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