Great Minds, Lousy Tippers?

Turns out that two of the modern ages’ most revered personalities, Nobel Prize-winners both, shared not only a genius of mind and spirit, but also a penchant for offering skimpy monetary gratuities.

The New York Times reports that Albert Einstein, short of change for a tip while visiting Tokyo in 1922, instead “offered a bellboy some advice scribbled on hotel notepaper.”  The German-born physicist’s guidance, a cheeky “theory of happiness,” must have struck home with the staffer, because it stayed in the family over the years and recently fetched more than $1.5 million at auction.


“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,” Einstein wrote, adding the Hallmarkian guidance, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Easy for him to say with an IQ of 160.

According to the Israeli auction house, Einstein is said to have predicted to the bellboy his handwritten bromides might someday be quite valuable.

The story conjures another legendary tipping tale, this one involving the Dalai Lama and inspiring one of the most immortal lines in cinematic history.  Coincidentally, the events also took place in Asia.

As recounted by professional caddy Carl Spackler, “So I jump ship in Hong Kong …”

Carl: “Hey! Lama, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know …and he says, oh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.  So, I got that going for me, which is nice.”

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About the Contributor

Michael Fleming

Michael Fleming

Wilmington resident Michael Fleming is a marketing and communications executive.

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