I got my car washed this morning (it was f-i-l-t-h-y courtesy of snow and lingering salt), and the guy tending to it did an outstanding job. Like always, I tipped him but threw in extra. Coz, you know, he was THAT good. Then I went to the bagel store, got in line, ordered a plain bagel, paid, and left. But not before noticing a brand new tip jar on the counter near the register.
Uh. What went wrong here?
Here’s the deal. I was brought up that tips were meant for those who provided a service. In particular, for those people who earned less than minimum wage because there’s an assumption by the state they work in that they’re earning their money in tips. It’s NOT extra pay for the underpaid. It’s a way of telling a server that they’ve done a bang-up job, given you outstanding service, and you’re going to give them credit for it. And if you don’t tip them well, that’s your way of saying their service crapped big ones and they’re going to have to survive on the less-than-minimum-wage paycheck that week.
So let’s see. I currently tip the guy who washes my car. The woman who cuts and colors my hair. The server who helps me choose a great meal and who, without fail, ensures my dining experience was enjoyable and, if they really went above and beyond, memorable.
Then, in my opinion, there’s the gray area tipping. The guy who takes my luggage to my hotel room, and the woman who takes my luggage through the airport terminal so I don’t have to carry it. Cab drivers and parking lot attendants. The folks who clean my room after a hotel stay (now there’s a thankless job). The people who clean my house (who get a tip at Christmastime, as a sort of bonus). The mail carrier and garbage men (who also get a tip at Christmastime, as a sort of bonus).
And then there’s the I-don’t-get-why-you’re-asking-for-a-tip tip. These are the containers near cash registers at the gas station or at the local coffee shop or, as I mentioned above, the bagel store. Ummm. Hold on a second here. If a tip is for outstanding service and is meant to supplement a worker’s income because they get less than minimum wage because tips are the basis for their income, then why would I tip someone who is getting minimum wage (or more)? Better yet, why tip someone who is doing their job and where it doesn’t make a heap of difference whether they give me crappy service or great service?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a solid tipper (just ask the wait staff at my favorite restaurants who, when they see me, ask me to sit in their section). But I’m also a confused one.
What do you think?
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