Barbara: For the record, I have absolutely nothing against tipping! I’m happy that hard-working individuals get their tips—especially when they’ve earned it. Tipping doesn’t make me feel angry or upset or unfairly taken advantage of. But still it does stress me the hell out!
The other day I was sitting in a hair salon waiting room and there was an article about a brand new salon that had raised the wages for their stylists and eschewed tipping of any kind from their clients. I had an immediate affinity for the place. The choir may even have hit that harmonious final note deep inside my mind. Why? Because tipping—how much, how, where, when—turns what for all intents and purposes is a lovely, indulgent experience for me into a suddenly nerve-wracking one.
Is it enough, too much, do I tip here or at the checkout, do I have cash or is the debit tip okay, if I’m splitting the bill, is the other person tipping enough (do I have to make up the difference), do I tip the dog groomer, the valet, the owner of the biz, I’m sure you can think of more questions to add to this list…
I know this is an ultimate in 1st-world problems. Of course, tipping is only applicable to indulgent experiences. But there is a whole modus operandi where tipping is involved, and I would love to have a definitive answer to these questions! Even as I sat in that salon pondering the whole question, my friend turned to me and whispered frantically that she would love some tipping guidance. I realized then that I wasn’t alone! My answer, though, far from helping, only stressed us both further: were we doing it right? Had we ever?
You know, here’s what I think: I would really love for tipping to not be an issue. In France, the tip is included in the bill. When you see your final tally, that amount includes the “service charge”. You can round up, you can even add a bit of a tip, but your servers are covered. The credit machines don’t even include a tip as an option (as they do here—which I love, because that’s my other stress: the math of it!). Truly, I would rather have that—one relatively unquestionable final amount. I see it, I know what it is, I pay it. Everyone gets their due and fair share. And, really, it must be stressful for the service industry folks too: will I get that 15% or will my client unfairly stiff me?
What do you think? What do you do? You’ve enjoyed that dinner out, the manicure, the haircut, the massage, the coffee, whatever. You’ve immersed yourself into a pampered, even decadent state—do you then pull yourself out of it and agonize over the unwritten rules and regulations, or are you a cool tipping machine? Or maybe you yourself rely on tips? What do you think? Is there an easier, fairer, more delicate answer? Or am I making too much of it?
Give me some tips on the tip, please.
Deb: Oh my goodness, do I have thoughts! I was a waitress for years. Depended on my tips. Counted on my tips! Even when I lied and said the cappuccino machine was broken ... which was often ... and specific to my shifts. I think that your waitstaff, if they are great, deserve every penny you can spare them. And Yet ... I resent having to pay their salary. I felt this when I was doing it for YEARS and still do. I resent that the employer does not value the staff member that is carrying his or her business. And yet, I still tip. Because the smiling face taking my order does not make the rules.