Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tipping: a rant by yours truly.

Let me begin this by saying that a) I have worked in the service industry for years--planning events, catering, waitressing (I may have gotten fired from the latter, but this does not disqualify the mention), and b) I know that many employees are paid less than minimum wage with the assumption that they will be tipped, and c) I rarely rant on here, so give me a break while I proceed to do just that.

The tipping system is broke and it needs fixing. The system creates a situation in which I, the consumer, am made to feel personally responsible for certain service providers' salaries. And the last thing a Jewish girl's guilty conscience needs is someone's livelihood on her hands. As much as I may like my waitress, I don't need to end my meal with thoughts of her unpaid rent if I don't dole out an additional 20% to her for bringing out food I've already paid for. The clerk at Nordstrom's shoe department brings lots of things back and forth to me but I'm not expected to throw cash at him.

There are tons of places to read up on tipping etiquette, but none can tell me why some professions are tip-based and others salaried.

One of these sites does offer up the following scenario, however...

Have you had a hard day traveling or at work? Do you feel a little grumpy? Were you sharp with someone?

Well, guess what! People in service industries don't always have great days either. Show them a little mercy and assume the best about them. Maybe your waiter is a little absent-minded because his mother is sick in the hospital.

Righto. I do feel grumpy. Because I just gave $5 of my measly salaried cash to some dude who can't land an acting gig and therefore has to refill my diet coke. He's grumpy?! Well, he should get a steady job.

And if we are going to continue the archaic practice of tipping, I vote that we make the following jobs and activities tippable...

1. Being a good friend. That's right. If you call me to blather on about some problem of yours, I want a dollar.

2. Temp work. Think your temporary secretary answered the phone with enthusiasm and speed? Tip 'er a couple bucks.

3. Supermarket bagger. I have had some fantastic baggers. They put the heavy stuff on the bottom, the produce up top. They deserve their fair share.

4. Graffiti artist. Do you have an illeagal mural in your neighborhood that speaks to you? Take a photo of the artist's tag. Show it around to some 'in the know' folks in the area. Find that guy who defaced local property. And slip him a 5!

5. Marketing & Events. Who makes you go out and buy things you don't need? Who convinces you of brand loyalties you didn't know you had? That's right--your local marketing and events worker. She deserves a cut of the company's action. And who better to give it to 'er than you. Tip her a hundy for all her hard work....oh, I'm a Marketing & Events worker? Well, gosh then. Thanks so much in advance for recognizing my hard work and paying me for it.

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