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September 21, 2017


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Oh, you've opened a can of worms.

The way tipping has crept into everything annoys me. Why are we increasingly expected to supplement the incomes of people who are paid to perform services that have a set price? Shouldn't the cost then increase? If it's not covering expenses or providing for an adequate wage, then there's a problem.

Mostly, I'm just perplexed at how much and why I should be tipping the women who cut my hair.

I don't know about the spread of tipping culture into non-service areas where previously it didn't exist, but I have to say, Americans take for granted the warm, accommodating, attentive service that the restaurant tipping culure encourages.

This is separate from the problem that tipped workers start their wages in a hole and have to make it up with tips that are unpredictable. That is a problem. But it isn't an indictment of the idea that some of a tipped worker's remuneration comes as a direct payment, the precise amount voluntarily chosen, from the people directly served.

Extended travel in Europe, where the service staff are paid better by the employers (good) but have no reason to expect tips for good service, drives this home. It isn't that they are rude or unhelpful. You just have to work to get their attention and they disappear for long periods of time. The contrast is really striking.

Mark has to dine with Europeans in the US for business and they always comment approvingly about how amazing are US service workers. Then, if the Europeans paid, he has to make an excuse to go back into the restaurant and ask "Did they tip you?" and re-tip if necessary.

I have the exact same frustrations. Also, having a tip line in the credit/debit card machines throws me for a loop. It's still there even when I'm getting something that I think doesn't require a tip -- take out food for example, or coffee. I feel like a jerk for hitting 0%, but I'm picking up my own food!

I had an etiquette book from the 60's for teens written by the Posts, I think, which I read cover to cover multiple times. It seemed so comforting -- if you could just get these things right, your life would fall graciously into place. It even had tips on makeup colors -- pink and orange lipstick! -- and the etiquette of wearing covers over your curlers.

I walked Letitia Baldridge's dogs in college as one of my many, many side hustles. She did not tip dog walkers :)

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