What I learned from fellow Hampshire Alum Rosemary Quinn
I first met Rosemary Quinn when I was taking Jim Koplin’s Intellectuals & Social Change class in
the spring of 1974. She was one of two Div III students co-teaching the class. She was also an
actor, and we talked about political theater quite a bit during that semester.
After she graduated from Hampshire ,Rosemary lived in the area and worked on different
theater projects and waited tables at among other places, Miss Flo’s Diner in Florence. She
even filled in on short notice for an actor who came down with a 48-hour stomach bug, an actor
in the cast of a play I was in at Hampshire, Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by Andy Shea. With
a day’s notice, she studied the script, had one blocking rehearsal, and saved our bacon by doing
the play that night with script in hand. Amazing.
Lucky for me, Rosemary agreed to be on my Div II committee. I learned a lot from her during
that time, and after. She introduced me to the singing of Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger, shared
some physical and vocal exercises, and more. However, the most important thing I learned
from Rosemary had nothing to do with theater. Early during my Div II process I met her for
breakfast in Northampton. I told her that since she was doing me the favor of being on my
committee I would pay for breakfast. When it came time to pay the bill, Rosemary asked me
how much I was leaving for a tip. My dad, who was fairly conservative, had taught me to leave
10 %, so that’s what I said.
Rosemary explained to me very clearly, but quite kindly given the circumstances, why I should
never leave less than 20%. How little the wait staff made per hour without tips, how the tip
was often shared with the dishwashers and other kitchen staff (I later became a dishwasher
myself and learned this was true.) How important it was to understand that restaurants can
have bad days, and to not punish the staff if I was dissatisfied with the result. She taught me
that day to never to leave less than a 20% tip. And I never have.
Thanks, Rosemary. For that, and so much more.