I’ve had it with tipping. The more traveling I do—for business or pleasure—the more I despise the uncertainty, the uncomfortableness, the need to have petty cash on hand. When will someone—an influential someone—say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?!
Tip too little, and you risk imperiling the quality of service you receive in the future from that person… plus you may look like an idiot or a miser in front of friends and business acquaintances.
Tip too much, and you look like a chump… and your wallet is made thinner (sometimes much thinner). And you feel like a moron for being taken advantage of. Heck, in some countries, you risk really offending someone!
This is one of the many reasons why I love Europe: you typically round up to the nearest euro when you eat out, and that’s that. Adding to the coolness… for takeout food and pretty much else, what you see on the billboard or pricetag is what you pay. 15EUR? You pay 15EUR; taxes, fees, etc., all included.
Now, back to the insanity that we endure in the States… Here’s just a sampling of recommended tips from a recent AAA (Automobile Association of America) article:
$2-$3 to your shuttle driver, $2 per suitcase to the skycap, 15-20% for the taxi driver, $2-$3 for a shoeshine, up to $5/night to your hotel maid, $5/day to a pool attendant (?!), up to $3 per round to the bartender and $20 (!) to your sommelier.
Sick yet? I am. After all, where’s the $5 we should be giving to our professor after a fine lecture, the $3 to the garbage man when he picks up our smelly refuse, $5 to the guy who trims our garden, $4 to the busboy in your work cafeteria, and $10 for your colleague after he helps you draft a memo.
But that’s ridiculous, you note. Isn’t the colleague already getting a salary? Why should you be responsible for bribing him to do a job that he’s already supposed to be doing?
And you may further argue, hey, but the waiter is getting a crap salary… if it weren’t for our tips, he’d practically starve. But, I’d retort, why the hell is it OUR (awkward) responsibility to make up for employers’ cheapness? And who the hell picks 1) who gets tips and 2) how much a “proper” tip is by profession and location?
Don’t get me wrong: I think that everyone deserves a living, decent wage. And I’d be quite pleased to have 15% or whatever automatically tacked on to my restaurant bill… so that the cost of my meal actually covered an appropriate salary for all involved with the occasion. What about crappy service? I’d do what I do when I encounter crappy service or products anywhere else:
– Firmly yet politely complain to the right people.
– If the matter remained unresolved, simply refuse to patronize the establishment again and warn my friends.
…and, of course, the opposite for good service (yes, I *do* write “thank you for the outstanding service” letters, sometimes by hand… and I wish more people did this).
Frankly, I doubt most folks are primarily motivated by money in their jobs anyway. Does giving the waitress an extra $1 cancel out the urgent and occasionally rude demands we sometimes inflict upon her? Not to her, I’d bet. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’d rather we stuffed the dollar back in our wallet and treated her with respect and patience.
By extension, one could even see tips as demeaning… suggesting that “those kind” of people are only apt to do a good job if they’re thrown fish (dollars) like trained seals. You don’t see people giving tips to lawyers and doctors, and no, it’s not purely a pay thing. Frankly, I’m betting my bartender friends make quite a bit more per hour than most of my lawyer friends… honestly.
Of course, with all this said, I’m not only angry, but also rather resigned and un-optimistic about the crappy tip-required culture of ours ever being reformed. I mean, what would it take? If Our Goddess Angelina stopped tipping tomorrow, she’d just be vilified in the Enquirer and nothing would change. If Bush didn’t tip next week, people would just (probably correctly) assume that he was unable to compute the tip even using a calculator. No, I think it’d take an act of God, or maybe a good-looking denizen from outer space. Until then, I guess I better just remember to keep a lot of ones in my wallet and just grit my teeth when I say “thank you.”