On Tipping: Tapped Out and Pissed Off
I don’t mind tipping.
Some jobs pay such pathetically low wages that tipping is absolutely necessary to get people to do that kind of work. Besides, anyone who repeatedly has to deal with the public probably deserves some kind of “survivor” bonus. Hell, I’d rather dig a ditch in the summertime for minimum wage than serve a family at an Applebee’s with a couple of highchairs. Please, hand me a shovel. I mean hand me a shovel to dig the ditch — not to use on the kids. Just want to make that clear.
The problem is….everyone who deals with the public now expects a tip. Tip jars are placed everywhere. Here in Las Vegas, tipping is probably my third-highest monthly expenditure, behind my mortgage payment and what I pay to the bookies.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a cheapskate. I’m perfectly fine with tipping waiters. Same with bartenders. I recognize tipping a certain percentage based on the total bill is customary. Still, it does seem odd that we’re expected to tip based on the amount of food we shove down our throats or how much beer we guzzle. Moreover, I don’t understand why the snooty waiter who brings me a $50 steak deserves $10 extra based on a few trips back and forth to the kitchen, while the waiter doing identical work serving the $10 chicken fried rice at midnight in Chinatown deserves only $2 based on our cultural protocols. So much for tipping not being a city in China.
Don’t even get me started on why we tip everyone except the people who actually make a real difference in our lives. Sure, my bartenders are important to me. They’re vital to my happiness. I love, love, love my bartenders. But they’re not exactly curing cancer. They’re not nurses, nor teachers, nor firemen, nor police officers, nor soldiers walking a dangerous post in Takhar. We never tip the real heroes in our society, even though they’re mostly overworked and underpaid and pretty hold the quilted fabric of our lives together with their unwavering sense of duty. But hey, we’re expected to drop a dollar for the teenager rolling my ice cream at the Cold Stone.
So, let me say this because up until now I’ve been holding back: Tipping is really fucked up.
We’re expected to tip barbers and hairdressers. We’re expected to tip cab drivers (yeah, Uber!). There are tip jars at the pizza joint. There are tip jars at Starbucks. The dog groomer at Petsmart gets a tip. The car wash guy gets a tip for dragging dirty rag across my dashboard. There are even tip plates placed inside many public restrooms right next to the sink. While I acknowledge the restroom attendant saves me from the cruel indignity of having to reach for the towel dispensary on my own, now I have to fish a few quarters out of my pocket. But since I don’t carry any quarters, now I have to tip the full buck, which now means from touching contaminated money, so my hands are dirty again. Call it the cycle of life — one germ to another and one tip to the next.
Some time ago, I got an oil change. Poor guy was working his ass off draining oil pans at one of those Jiffy Lube places. I felt sorry for the guy who was basically trapped in a dungeon, breathing hot oil fumes 8 hours a day. So, I tipped him $5 and told him to “have a beer on me after work.” The guy was appreciative but then he responded, “a beer now costs $7 just about anywhere.” Plus the tip. So, I guess I need to tip enough so the guy that I tip can leave tip.
That’s not all. Does anyone else get those special envelopes around this time of year? My paperboy who I’ve never actually met sent me a really nice Christmas card which I’m sure was heartfelt. The signed card arrived along with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The card noted that he appreciated “my continuing generosity.” Shit, there goes another $20.
The garbage man works on Christmas Day. Really, they do here in Las Vegas. I think they do this on purpose. A few years ago, Marieta felt really bad for them. So, she stood out on the sidewalk while it was a blistering cold 61 degrees and handed them each a $10 bill. When it became apparent what was happening, two more guys, apparently on break, hopped out of the truck. I haven’t seen such a ruckus since we put out scraps for a nest of feral cats. Hey, but at least now they haul away anything we place out in the curb — from empty wine bottles to trees. Which reminds me — have plenty of $10 bills ready on Dec. 25th.
Then, there’s the outrageous amount tipping that’s expected at casinos. The valet parker expects a tip, even though parking used to be free and now the corporate shakedown costs $22 (greedy bastards). All the dealers expect a tip (if you play poker any reasonable length of time, this easily comes to $1,000/year, or more). If you cash a sports ticket, the teller wants a tip. If you hit a payout on video poker, notice it takes three attendants to hand pay you in cash? Wonder why? If you see a show, unless you want to be snookered onto the back row next to a giant 500-watt speaker blasting the left side of your face, the seating hostess will expect a tip.
Las Vegas visitors have it even worse. What’s the first thing you must do when you check in at the airport? You tip the airline bagman, that is, unless you want your suitcase ending up in Bangor, Maine. When you check into a hotel, the clerk wants a tip. The bellman wants a tip just to carry your bags, which is basically his whole job. But then, the bellman doesn’t even carry your bags — he uses a pull cart. He cheats. When you check out and leave your bags an extra few hours, the bellman expects yet another tip. Oh, and we have to tip the maid if we want more than one clean towel. When I used to travel, I actually packed my own towels. Then, I tip myself $20 a day. See, I told you I was generous.
Last weekend, I went to the grocery store. At the checkout on that little machine where you stick in a debit card, it asked me if I want to tip $1, $2, $5, or $10 to some well-known charity where the CEO is making $800,000 a year.
No fucking thanks!
I’m all tapped out and pissed off!
Besides, I need what money I have left to tip my garbage men and bartenders.
Footnote: I accept tips.