Sunday, December 24, 2006

MyTipping Points

I have never been a particularly generous tipper. The whole concept of tipping annoys me - charge more and pay the staff better would be my preference. However, that's not the way it works.
Z recently said something which has stuck with me: if you can afford to eat a nice meal out, you can afford to leave a nice tip. Often servers are low income, especially in the kind of diners I frequent. And I remind myself: if I round up and am more generous, I am not going to miss it, but it may make a significant difference to the waitress. Of course I am quite measured in what I order, and that keeps the bill down anyway. Lately I've taken to ordering appetizers as entrees. The size of a typical entre is way too large for a middle-aged women who watches her weight. Ditto I never order dessert, and rarely order liquor. So I am not the ideal patron when it comes to the bottom line. But still, it's the principle. Cut back on the food ordered; go bigger with the tip.

Likewise my friend J taught me a lesson about tipping hotel maintenance staff gleaned from Nickle and Dimed , Barbara Ehrenreich's book on low-wage workers. If you want to help low-income women, who are likely immigrants supporting a family, leave a generous tip. Same idea: if you can afford to stay in a nice inn or hotel, you can afford to leave a generous tip. I have now adopted this as a spiritual practice.

I recall an idea from a magazine I read - if you travel abroad, bring clothes you are ready to part with and then, in addition to a tip, leave them for the maids. You get room in your suitcase (for all the souvenirs et al), and they get American clothes. I have never done this. Anyone out there who has? Does this come across as generous, or as obnoxious?

Thoughts to share on tipping?
Perhaps someone who has been at the receiving end?
What is a generous tip for an overnight stay? I leave $5 or $10 now. Perhaps this is cheap?

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