Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Here's a Tip

Tipping, growing up and living in Australia I have never understood tipping. Having travelled overseas to many countries that do practice tipping in lieu of paying and actual wage I am still none the wiser.

This week a waitress in New Jersey posted on Facebook an image of a docket where after having to wait an hour for their food order to be delivered to the table. In line on the docket for the customer to write their tip was written “1 hour for food, LOL”

Apparently the world was meant to be appalled that the customer would be so rude and arrogant as to not leave a tip for receiving poor service. Notwithstanding that the delays were not of the waitresses making, I am more shocked that the waitress still expected a tip at all.

It might be a New Jersey thing. On my first visit to the eastern seaboard state friends took me to a diner for a stereotypical American dining experience. Burgers, fries, condiments (on the side of course because even though they are just fat, salt and sugar, being on the side somehow reduces their impact on one’s health.)

Between taking our order and the food being prepared the waitress received a call from her boyfriend. The phone call was not a pleasant one. The waitress started sobbing and yelling before storming out of the diner. No alternative waiting staff were assigned to our table.

Eventually we had to go to the serving window and retrieve our now rapidly cooling food (we never did find out how long they had been sitting there) At the end of this dining experience where we did have a meal and got a story to tell my American friends informed me that I had to leave a tip for the waiting staff, despite the complete absence of staff. We were the ones who waited.

Despite the lack of service and the non-existent staff member we still left 15% tip. 10% is considered insulting and god forbid we insult the woman who was not there, and 20% is for exceptional service.

The 15% was really in case my friends wanted to eat there again. Without leaving a tip it is likely no one would serve them on a subsequent visit. I argued that no-one served us this visit either.

I have been our tours where there are three components to the overall cost; the booking fee (all of which goes to the company), the payment (cash on arrival to cover the food, accommodation, fuel, park entry fees – so the actual cost of the tour) and the tip for the tour guides. It is expected that the tip is US$10/day.  On a tour ever member of the tour group is assigned a task such as loading the tents, cleaning the bus, filling the water. One of these tasks is “Tips Coordinator”.

The mere presence of the Tip Coordinator as a position moves this money from the realm of tip or gratuity to the definition of payment. The other clue that this is built into the cost of the holiday is that “Tip Ceremony” is included on the itinerary.

By ceremony I mean Reality television ceremony not traditional religious or cultural event. There are long disingenuous speeches, even longer pauses and promises of life-long friendships, awkward and empty declarations of love followed even more awkward and empty bursts of applause.

I am happy to tip a helpful tour guide. I am less enthusiastic about tipping a guide who, at the beginning of the trip declares “This is the first time I have visited this country and then merely reads verbatim the Lonely Planet entry for the region. I refuse to pay a tip for a guide contracted an alternative guide for day excursions so they can become a tourist themselves and then on the other days declare to the group “You probably want a rest day to explore the area by yourselves.’ This translates to mean I have a girlfriend in this region and want a day of sex with her.

If I am tipping for the guide’s sexcapades then I want to be involved, and better not result in the guide walking out in tears after hearing what I want only to leave me having to serve myself.

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