Steve Dublanica wrote one of my favorite blogger-makes-good books called Waiter Rant, in which he tells the world what he thinks about restuarants and the dinning public at large. He lived and died by how much he was tipped-and he hated people who didn’t tip, much as an Assembly Line Portrait Photographer hates people who don’t buy.
In Keep The Change, Steve ventures into the universe of tipping. Being a poor schmuck myself, my own tipping activities are limited to restuarants with wait staff and my semi-annual haircut. And I’ll be honest, I’d rather not tip the random woman at ProCuts because I tend to think $12 is too much to pay for a haircut in the first place. But I do usually fork over a dollar or two. Why? Good question.
Almost everything Steve Dublanica talks about in Keep The Change is news to me. From his stories of the origins of tipping and the anti-tipping leagues to more current times where more and more people wants tips who never got tipped before. He calls this Tip Creep and sees it as a sign that more and more companies don’t want to carry the burden of having to pay thier employees themselves.
I remember several years ago I read some advice collumn that Evanna Trump was writing where she talked about tipping. At some point she mentions how much to tip hotel maids, and I was like, WTF? People tip maids? Well, duh. Not just maids, but Doormen, Parking Valets, Blackjack Dealers, Hairdressers, Auto Mechanics, Car washers, Movers, Delivery Drivers and so on and so forth. Most interesting was the idea that people tip workers in the Sex Industry, but then, I don’t pay to visit Dominatrices or Submissives, so who knew?
For the most part, I don’t use any of the services that Steve says I should be tipping at least 20%, which is pretty much everyone who has their hand out. I don’t get my shoes shined, I don’t play table poker at a casino, I don’t hang out at strip clubs or ride around in limos or taxis. I might use a mover or get a pizza dilvered once every few years. And the motels I stay at are usually the cheapest I can find and I can’t imagine the maids working at the bottom rung Patel Motel are used to getting too many tips. But I could be wrong.
The stories of tipping are interesting, but they do seem to take place in an alternate universe from the one where my cheap-ass lives. If there was a modern day Anti-Tipping League I would be a member-as long as it didn’t cost anything to join. I’m one of those people that want the Minimum Wage to be twenty dollars an hour and employers to offer everyone benefits as well as a living wage.
So maybe it’s just simple jealousy on my part-people who make hundreds or thousands of dollars a week in tips while I make nothing in tips. After all, for many of these tipped workers $20 an hour would be a severe pay cut.
I have no interest in doing any of the jobs described in Keep The Change, but there was a local story about tipping several years back that made me wonder about some jobs. One of the local news outfits went out to DFW International Airport to find out who makes the most money. Those pilots who bring in a quarter of a million a year? Nope. The people who run the place? Nah. The guys loading airplanes? Get real. No, it was the Skycaps, who put a bag on a cart and push it to a waiting taxi cab and get five dollars a bag for their trouble. Do that twenty or thirty times a day and it starts to add up. Work a forty hour week for a year as a Skycap and you could pull down around a half a million dollars in tips. Or so the story said. There was a similar story about the women selling cigarettes at the Playboy Club back in the glory days-they would make hundreds a day in tips, back when hundreds a day was a lot of money.
Keep The Change is an interesting book, but I’ve never worked as a waiter so I go around with blinders on to all the many people who expect a tip for one thing or another. Steve seems to be of the opinion that people who don’t tip suffer from some form of mental illness that makes them immune to the suffering of others. Really? Steve never mentions the most common form of ignored suffering, The Homeless, many of whom appear to live on tips alone.
Steve wraps up the book with a few guidelines about what to tip people and then goes into the murky waters of race relations in America. Clearly Steve is scared shitless about saying anything that might in anyway be considered offensive by anyone. He gets quotes from several people confirming that black people are lousy tippers, but he doesn’t want to believe any of them. So he goes and asks more people, who all tell him that yes, African Americans are lousy tippers. He then puts forth a couple of theories. Black people are poor and don’t know how to tip. African Americans have a history of slavery and, uh, I’m not sure exactly how that makes them bad tippers, but he did mention the whole slavery thing a couple of times. In all fairness, he then mentions just about every other group of people living in America and said they were often lousy tippers as well.
At several points along Steve’s journey to becoming a Tipping Guru he mentions the one solid fact about all of these people who get tipped-if you can afford whatever service they provide, then you can afford to tip the person giving you that service. If you can’t afford it, and do it anyway, than don’t be surprised when the person you don’t tip treats you like shit.
Which brings us back to the simple idea of paying everyone a living wage and not tying income to the whims of random strangers.
Yeah, that’s gonna happen.