I like to read Readerâ€™s Digest. Itâ€™s a very informative magazine that gives me exactly what I want â€“ the meat and potatoes of a book that I might not otherwise have time to pick up and read. Additionally, it gives me funny things at which to laugh. But the January 2008 issue gave me something else to think about. It gave me the opportunity to think about how flat rude some people can be.
Author Mary Roach, who writes regularly for the Digest, told how a couple of strange envelopes appeared at her home. These innocuous-looking envelopes contained Christmas Cards which Mrs. Roach had not purchased; however, they were addressed to the people who left them at her home. According to her husband, the cards were a â€œhintâ€ that these people were expecting a tip for services rendered. One was from the newspaper delivery person and the other was from the trash collector. The crux of the article was Roachâ€™s lamenting of how people come to expect a tip just because they work for a living.
When I was in high school, I worked at a grocery store bagging groceries and then carrying them out to the customerâ€™s car â€“ a service today known only as â€œcarry out serviceâ€ because grocery stores do not hire baggers. When I would put groceries in the customerâ€™s car, none of them ever bothered to try and tip me â€“ except for one gentleman. I refused his offer on the grounds that I was actually â€œjust doing my jobâ€. Later I found out I was not allowed to accept tips anyway, so it worked out for the better.
Later, in college, I worked as a waiter at a restaurant. Tips were actually expected because where I lived at the time, the state only allowed restaurants to pay the state minimum wage with the difference between the state and federal made up in tips. (This was when the federal minimum wage was a whopping $3.35 per hour and the state in which I lived was an incredible $2.12 per hour). This is when I discovered the real reason why my grocery store employer wouldnâ€™t allow me to accept tips â€“ he would have been required to reduce my wages so that my tips would not escalate my wages above the $3.35 limit. Not to mention the reporting of tips for tax purposes.
That was also 20 years ago.
Now, people who work in the service industry expect tips as a part of their job. When I stared out, tips were an extra reward for a job well done. Now they are an expected entitlement which, if not paid can actually lead to waking up to find a severed horseâ€™s head among your satin sheets (if you havenâ€™t seen The Godfather, I recommend doing so to understand the reference). What happened to being rewarded for doing a good job and missing out if you do a poor one? To this day, a waiterâ€™s tip is based solely on the level of service I receive at a restaurant (and by the way, there really is no such word as waitress, but Iâ€™ll save that for another article). IF I tip the waiter, it is because he or she has kept my glass filled and brought my food in a reasonable amount of time. There are other factors as well â€“ the biggest one being attitude. I once received such poor service at a restaurant, I left a nickel. The waiter followed me outside and demanded a larger tip. I replied, â€œYou should have done a better job.â€ To this day, I remember his name and every time I go into that restaurant, I make sure to ask the host to seat me outside of his area.
Yet, now everyone thinks a tip is required. To which I say, â€œNo. You get a tip in a restaurant, not for collecting my garbage.â€ If you want a Christmas bonus, ask your boss for one. Donâ€™t come crying to me for the extra money you need to pay your one-eighth of the mortgage on the house where you live with seven other people. When I was young, my father always tipped the paper boy for always getting the paper on the porch. Now if you donâ€™t tip the fool that drives by your house in a car and throws your paper on the roof or in the bushes, two guys in $1000 silk Italian suits wearing sunglasses come to your door and crack your kneecaps until you pay extra. Same goes for Garbage Guy. The first subtle hint is a card taped to your trash can. If that is ignored, then your trash isnâ€™t picked up until you pay. If that doesnâ€™t get your attention, those guys in the Italian suits come by for a â€œvisitâ€.
Tips are not entitlements. Tips are personal and based on the person giving them and the service level of the person getting them. Whatâ€™s wrong with me expecting a higher level of service for something? Why does someone feel that I should pay them for doing their job? Arenâ€™t they getting paid already? I remember a fool at a car wash got all haughty when I didnâ€™t tip him. It was the first time Iâ€™d ever had someone else wash my car. It was also the last. Thatâ€™s why I prefer to go to fast food restaurants, wash my own car, load my own groceries and schlep my own luggage. I tip only when the service was worth it and I donâ€™t care how many people are offended.
And the little reminder card on my garbage can is still there. It still has nothing in it, but maybe if I ignore it long enough, Guido and Luigi will fuhgitaboutdit!
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 D. E. Carson
How the concept of tipping has become an entitlement.
Copyright © 2010 D. E. Carson
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