"In 1963, as a young man of 21 years old, I spent a few years in Canada. I initially lived in Quebec before moving to Toronto to work in an hotel called 'The Glenview Terrace.' The hotel was an upmarket hotel and was the one nearest to Kenny Airport and as such attracted all 'the very best customers' from across the world.
I worked in the hotel as a receptionist, who, when the bellhop wasn't available, had to show guests to their rooms or perform one service or another for them. The manager had only one maxim as far as advising his staff how best to keep his guests happy, 'Whatever they want, give them it!'
As a general rule, I felt able and was sometimes quite happy and surprised to oblige. There was, however, one practice that I could never bring myself to doing and that was to take money for helping someone. It had only been nine months earlier in Quebec that a couple been so kind to me and accommodated me for free when I was without digs. When I offered payment they refused and instead charged me with helping another on the same terms at any future date.
There is a peculiar trait to all of the wealthy and privileged, especially Americans, who like to show both their appreciation for services rendered by tipping, and their wealth by the size of their tip. During my time in the hotel, there was a wealthy spinster woman in her forties who lived in the hotel in her own special room for half of each year. Her name was Miss Gail White and woe betide anyone addressing her that forgot her title 'Miss' when they spoke with her. Indeed, she rarely spoke to anyone in the hotel with the exception of the staff who attended to her daily needs.
Miss Gail White was a woman of substance and a lady of sophistication. Nobody could imagine how such a beautiful woman of reported immense wealth could be of single status into her forties. All conversation about her single status was a common topic between the staff. To me, there was only one reason as to why such a beautiful and sophisticated woman should remain on the shelf; she had suffered heartbreak in the past and would never trust any man again! The real reason, I later discovered from the manager, when he told me that when Miss Gail first came to the hotel, she shared a room with her sister for almost two years. It was the way that the manager said, 'her sister' that led me to the conclusion that they were sisters of the most suspicious kind and that it had been a woman who'd broken her heart many years earlier and not a man.
Over the seven or eight months, I knew her, she would often phone down to the reception desk for me to arrange something on her behalf, which I was glad to do. Whenever she next saw me, she would thank me politely for my previous service and attempt to press a tip into my hand; usually ten dollars. Despite this being a highly generous amount for a desk clerk who was paid $1 an hour wage and represented over one day's wage, I always politely refused. When asked, 'Is not my money good enough?' I indicated that I came from a part of England where nobody got tipped simply for doing the job they were paid to do.
Initially, she seemed determined to break this custom of mine and did her level best to persuade me to accept the American custom of giving and accepting tips. The more I refused the more determined she initially appeared, upping her tips from $10 to $20. When the month eventually arrived that I intended to return to England, Miss White was also planning to go back to Richmond, Virginia. As she booked out of the hotel, she smiled and thanked me for all my help and tipped the bellhop generously for carrying her luggage out to the waiting taxi. Ronnie (the bell hop), returned smiling and waving a $10 tip and said,' 'Miss Gail asked me to give you this' as he passed me an envelope marked 'Mr, Forde.'
I opened the envelope, suspecting that she had slipped me a large tip after she had left that I could not return and was pleased to see she hadn't. The brief note inside the envelope simply said,'Thank you, Mr. Forde. I do think there is much to be said for your English custom.' signed, Miss Gail White." William Forde: March 22nd, 2017.