Last July, Seth Collins lost his 30 year old brother Aaron.
“We really don’t know what happened to him. A friend of his found him in his apartment and at that point his heart had already stopped.”
His family discovered that Aaron had a special request.
“The last wish in my brother Aaron’s will was that we leave a $500 tip on a pizza.”
So he collected money from friends and family, and took $500 to a pizza restaurant so he could surprise a server there with a monster of a tip. Seth videotaped the event and it went viral. Soon after, a random stranger opened a PayPal account so the public could donate to a tipping fund. Since last July, $50,000 has rolled in, so Seth decided to take the money on a road trip, and tip servers in all 50 states.
He’s currently on the road, full time, eating out, giving tips and posting the videos to his website. The server’s reactions are very similar: shock, crying, more shock, a hug or two and lots of ‘Thank you’s.’ Before Seth gives the tip, he always tells the server where it came from.
“I talk to them, I explain why it’s happening. I talk about Aaron and also I make sure to mention that the reason it continues is because other people were inspired to be generous and donate to me and I’m sort of passing it on to them.”
He says his brother would have loved the road trip.
“Aaron was always a generous person. He didn’t save his money. He would prefer to take his friends out to dinner if he had some extra cash and was always moved to help people in the service industry. Even as a kid, when he was 12, 13 years old and all he had was allowance. If he thought that my parents didn’t tip well enough, he would take a couple bucks from his allowance money and toss that on the table just to help bolster the tip.”
Seth says everyone reacts a little differently to the tip, but almost everyone assumes it’s a prank.
“The biggest thing that people have in common is they don’t trust that something nice is happening to them randomly. They don’t think that this could be real and are more likely to believe that someone is willing to randomly be mean to them than to randomly be nice to them. That, to me, is a bit depressing but hopefully, as I continue doing this, I can, at least for a few people, change that perception and help them realize that people can just be nice to other people.”
Sometimes he tips on a big dinner with friends, and sometimes on something very small.
“I’ve tipped $500 in a cappuccino. I’ve also done $500 on just a small [$6] breakfast at Waffle House.”
Money continues to come in, so Seth says he’ll keep tipping. He already tipped a server at Seattle’s Steelhead Diner, but says he’ll be back in Seattle to tip a random server the last week of August.
Click here if you’d like to donate.