Big Fat Tip #54 is the fourth in a series of five drops that we handed out on December 20, 2023. The Big Fat Tip® celebrated its fifth anniversary of being an official organization on that day, and we commemorated the event by giving out a surprise $1,000 tip for each year. We gave these to randomly selected businesses in Lakeland, Florida, close to our headquarters address, which is in the downtown Catapult business incubator.

Eric Vaden, a longtime supporter of our organization, paid for all five tips. Eric owns a GEICO agency in Boston, Massachusetts. He is quite the entrepreneur and recently bought the license to ten pet grooming businesses called Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique. Tragically, one of his new team members, Eden Beck, died in a car accident on December 10, 2023. Eric wanted to honor Eden’s life through these random acts of kindness. While grateful for his support and generous gift, our hearts go out to Eden’s family and friends. A tribute to her is at the end of the five videos.

Shayna Collazo is our featured volunteer for this drop. Shayna used to work with our founder at GEICO in the Training Department. Shayna is a nurturer and cares deeply about her family, friends, and colleagues. She is also an adventurer and creative problem solver. We aim to keep our tabs low, and our five-year average bill at these establishments is $14.17. Our founder wanted to expand beyond restaurants and bars and give one of these tips in a nail salon; however, she wished to avoid splurging on an expensive nail service. So, Shayna volunteered to get her eyebrows waxed.

Here is the kicker – Shayna and our founder could not be directly connected to the recipient – and this meant Shayna volunteered to allow a stranger to pull hair out of her face just before Christmas. Shayna met our camerawoman in the parking lot after drop #53 finished, and they looked up nail salons using the Around Me app. They caravaned to the first address they randomly selected, which appeared to be an incorrect location. They went to the second place they chosen randomly, but that salon didn’t exist, either! They drove to the third location – and you can watch the video.

People often think “reality TV” is real. It’s not. They have microphones, make-up, planned wardrobes, plots, and scenes to follow. We do not, and it shows in our authentic videos. We often have to improvise, and one of the biggest unknowns is the point of payment. Everyone does it differently. Sometimes, they hand us a gadget. Sometimes we have to pay in a different location. Sometimes, the server prints it and sees the receipt before we can say anything. In this nail salon, the owner asks you to tell them what the tip is verbally, and they enter it on the computer and THEN print the receipt for you to sign. Our standard opening line, “Will you check the math on this for me?” didn’t work in this situation, and our volunteer, who just had warm wax placed between her eyebrows and the hair yanked out of her face, quickly changed her lines. She did a great job thinking on her feet—Big Fat Thanks to Shayna for volunteering her pretty face for the cause, too. She could have had wonky eyebrows for the holidays!