Editorial: Donnie Wahlberg's $2,020 tip to start 2020

  • Donnie Wahlberg left a $2,020 tip for an IHOP waitress in St. Charles on New Year's Day.

    Donnie Wahlberg left a $2,020 tip for an IHOP waitress in St. Charles on New Year's Day. Associated Press, 2015

Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted1/3/2020 1:00 AM

What are we going to remember about New Year's Day 2020?

Hangovers pass. No, years from now, we'll remember that a celebrity couple from the suburbs opened the new year with a gift to a single mom.


In case you have been under a rock (or under the weather) for 24 hours, actors Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy had breakfast Wednesday at the St. Charles IHOP. On a $78.45 bill -- no, they didn't order the whole menu, turns out their kids were seated nearby -- Wahlberg and McCarthy left a $2,020 tip.

"Thanks, Bethany," Wahlberg scrawled at the top of the tab. "Happy New Year ... 2020 tip challenge!"

We doubt that too many of us can accept the challenge literally, and leave deserving wait staff a $2,000 tip.

But Wahlberg and McCarthy remind us that too many workers fly under the radar, on holidays and every other day of the year.

Bethany Provencher of Elgin has been waiting tables at IHOP for two months, she told reporter Lauren Rohr. She's 37 and a single mom. When she approached the couple seated at her table she recognized Wahlberg and McCarthy, who live in St. Charles, but didn't make a fuss because she didn't want them to feel uncomfortable.

They chatted amicably to Provencher as she went about her job. When they left, Wahlberg handed her the folded credit card receipt and said, "Open it when we leave."

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Provencher said she freaked out, right there in IHOP.

"They didn't act the way I thought somebody would act being of that stature," she said.

"I'm really appreciative, and I wish I could thank them for real. They blessed me."

People work hard for a living. Most of us, buried in our own lives, appreciate the jobs other people do for us in an abstract sense -- we interact and move on.

What Wahlberg did was kind.

His action will no doubt spur a few diners to take on his tip challenge, and we'll hear about them.

For the rest of us, it's a nudge that spreading a little kindness in our everyday lives is not a bad legacy for anyone -- especially when dealing with people who are doing a job for you.

We don't know if Wahlberg planned on giving a $2,000 tip ahead of time, or just saw an opportunity when he and his wife met Bethany.

Either way, they made her feel special. And that's a pretty good day's work -- in Hollywood or in St. Charles.

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