Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tip-fusing

The other week, while I was staying at a hotel while traveling for work, I was right in the middle of rearranging all the furniture in my room when I realized that I should probably leave a tip for the cleaning staff considering that I would be leaving them with more towels than what the room was originally stocked with before I arrived*.

I usually don’t leave a tip for the cleaning staff since I typically never have housekeeping done during my stay and always tidy the place up before I leave. So if you really think about it, I’m the one who should be getting the tip.

But I must admit I’m not very confident in my when-to-tip and when-not-to-tip knowledge. I definitely understand tipping when eating at a restaurant. I’ve got that one down good. It’s pretty well accepted that not leaving a tip would be incredibly insulting. But what about other tipping situations?

Pat, what I would like to do is throw out some potential tipping scenarios and you tell me how much of a jerk I am if I don’t tip. Let’s start with the hotel housekeeping tip.

Let’s say you stay at a hotel but never have housekeeping come, should you leave a tip in your room upon check out? Assuming you put all the furniture back how it was before you leave and don’t leave any additional towels.

Pat:  Before we set off down this road, can I remind you that I’m the guy (read: “cheap bastard”) who asked you if it was okay to make off with a gallon of half & half when I buy a 12 ounce coffee from a neighborhood coffee shop?

I’m not sure that I’m the best moral guide.

Christian: OK, how about this: give an opinion from your own personal point of view and then give another answer while imagining you’re  a normal contributing member of society.

Pat:   Okay...here’s the latter:

Considering most hotel staff probably have a scripted protocol they have to employ when cleaning each room, the amount of tidying you do likely has no effect on what they still have to do to bring the room up to management expectations. For example, you may make the bed, with drill-seargent regulation corners, but they will still unmake it and re-make it, simply because they have to. Ergo, you taking it upon yourself to tidy up in lieu of a tip STILL makes you a cheap bastard in their eyes. So...normal me says pay up, cheap-o! You think they’re really breaking the bank with their minimum wage job, one-percenter? Please, Mr. Rich-Man...remember the other 99!

HOWEVER...if it is justification for anti-social behavior you’re looking for, look no further my friend, because REAL me is back!

You did the cleaning, you say? Tip yourself! Go get yourself a nice drink, and say hi to the cleaning staff on your way out!

Christian: I see your point. But in my defense, when I say I tidy up I mean I put all the towels I use into a pile and throw away any garbage I may have accumulated. I actually never make the bed. And in the spirit of being totally candid, when I’m staying in rooms that have two beds I typically mess both of them up even when traveling alone. It’s just something that has to be done.

So let’s move on to my next tipping situation. Keeping with the motel theme, what is your opinion on tipping for valet parking?

While traveling for work I occasionally end up staying places where the only option for parking is valet. But keep in mind this isn’t free valet parking. The hotels typically charge $35 - $45 a night for valet parking. But since I am traveling for work I can expense that since it shows up on my hotel receipt. What I can’t expense is the tip for the valet guy so I generally just leave one tip as I check out. Usually around $5 which I’m assuming is on the cheap side. But I usually stay at a hotel for a full work week so if I were to tip the valet’s $5 every time they take my car or give me my car I would be looking at a $50 loss! That’s a lot of Cheeto money.

Pat: You just moved out of my league, buddy. I don’t think I’ve ever valet parked. Or had a valet do my parking. Or parked in a valet. Whatever.

I would opt to ride my bike to the hotel, and thus save the extra dough.

And just to clear things up...you do realize that you are a cheap bastard as a result of the hotel scenario, right? Tip the damn cleaning staff!

Christian: OK, let’s move on then. How about when you go to a restaurant to pick up some take-out food? Do you leave a tip?

Of course you would leave a tip if you dined in but in that case aren’t you tipping the service of being waited on? When you are picking up your food you really aren’t getting any additional service.

And before you go arguing that the tip goes to the people that prepared the food and ran your credit card etc., don’t you get that same service at fast food places? Am I expected to tip them too?

Pat:  Not even a question there. No tip. Maybe, and this is a VERY rare maybe, if I’m feeling an extra pep in my step, I might toss a dollar into a tip jar if they have one, but otherwise...no tip.

I fully recognize that I too am a cheap-ass bastard, but I think this tipping thing has gotten out of hand. The traditionalist in me thinks, “You have a job. Do it well. Get paid for your good and hard work. Don’t expect much more than that.” I know that service workers are getting the shaft with their crappy wages, and it’s hard to make a living even with a full-time job, but is it really my job to make up the deficit? Can’t I just have my underpriced service at an unsustainably low price?

Good god, I started sounding like my Orange county relatives there! Okay...back to my naive liberalism. How about a hug in lieu of a tip?

Christian: I do like hugging strangers but I’m guessing they wouldn’t appreciate it as much as money. Thanks for the tip though.


* How else are you supposed to get rid of your extra unwanted towels?

44 comments:

  1. I actually heard a hostess complain about not getting tipped for handing someone a take-out bag and that just blew my mind. I've never tipped for take out service.

    I'm against coffee shop tips too. In theory. I'm too scared to actually not tip, but it always makes me mad.

    This one could be a tie since the real Pat is cheap, but then he threw in the hug at the end so Christian wins.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear that others don't tip when getting take out. All this time I was just picturing the people muttering insults at me after I picked up my food and left. Although I guess they could be muttering insults for other reasons. Oh well, screw them and their silly hairdos.

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    2. The hug was just a ruse, really, it was! Can I please win? Would it help me win if instead of hugging I suggested punching the staff?

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  2. I don't understand the tipping thing at all. In Australia, it's completely optional. If I ever went somewhere tipping was expected I'd probably either insult them by giving them twenty cents, or I'd bankrupt myself by forking over a months wages.

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    1. The wife and I honeymooned in Sydney and we had a lengthy talk with a very friendly waiter about tipping. Afterwards we were even more lost than we are here in the states with the whole optional thing. Optional? We can't be making these kind of decisions on are own. We need to be told what to do. :)

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    2. "Optional" tipping is like going to a concert where admission is a "sliding scale". Let the guilty conscienced folks throw in their spare change! I say opt for the literal low-end meaning of the terms!

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  3. I avoid this problem altogether by never leaving the house. I do not care for interacting with the other humans, and this is a perfect example of why.

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    1. I'm gonna go with Robyn on this one.

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    2. Sooo...should we not be tipping the mailman everyday? Dammit! I KNEW he was pulling one over on me!

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  4. My mom once encountered a tip jar at a gas station post office drop. Not only does this seem like an absurd and probably not legal process but not gonna lie I've been there and they have the slowest service ever.
    And no, takeout food/coffee doesn't get tipped. Unless the person giving you food/coffee is outstandingly nice and like, draws a picture of your face in the latte foam. Or attractive. I've probably been guilty of that. Lol

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    1. This has given me an idea. Maybe people only tip when there is a tipping jar regardless if they are getting any service. I'm going to place tipping jar on my desk at work. I don't work with the public but maybe my coworkers will feel the pressure to tip just because there is a jar there.

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    2. And another idea for me...I'm going to try placing a tip jar in my classroom this year. Who knows what the kiddos might put in there! Maybe I'll get lucky and get a dollar. Or a slim jim!

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  5. Are people expecting money because I just hand out very personal hand-written tips. Like, be sure to look both ways...twice, before crossing the street on a moped. This is wrong, isn't it? Well, my mother always said, it's hard to be mad at someone who hands you a handwritten note. I'm going to go with it.

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    1. I think your mother my be a genius. It is hard to be mad at someone who hands you a handwritten note. Not only am I going to start using handwritten notes as tips I'm also going to have some prepared to hand to my wife the next time I come home too late.

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  6. I'm totally out of step with when I'm supposed to tip and when I'm not. If it's not a restaurant, I start acting really confused, say one of the five vocabulary words I remember from my community college Chinese course, and walk backwards to my car.

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    1. I like this. I like this a lot. I'm now going to spend this weekend learning five Chinese words.

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  7. The real question is... what are you doing in that other bed?

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    1. Maybe the question should be, what am I NOT doing in that other bed. Wait that actually sounds worse. I usually use one of the beds as the sleeping bed and the other bed as the watching TV and eating snacks bed. And then of course there is also the fort building which requires both beds. But that is too broad of topic to cover in a single blog comment.

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    2. I like to use one bed to sleep and the other bed to lay out all my clothes, like a big flat closet. It makes me happy. And then I tip myself.

      (Sorry, maybe I should not be commenting on other people's comments? does that make me a little bit comment manic?)

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    3. No need to apologize. We like and encourage all comments regardless as to where they are placed. Plus, I've never thought about using the other bed as a flat closet. I've always just used the floor for that. I'll try the second bed next time.

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  8. I'm with Pat--I'm cheap and think the tipping thing has gotten out of hand. I would probably so awkward about the valet that I would park far away and have cab drive me to hotel or something...of course, this doesn't really help you, Christian. Maybe get business cards printed with this URL on it and leave them in leui of a tip every time? They'll get a cool laugh and at least know you care??

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    1. I have actually parked in a public parking garage down the street from the hotel to avoid the valet parking. But I felt like such a loser walking up the sidewalk from the street struggling with my suitcase and bags as everyone else was handing their keys to the valet and then leisurely walking into the hotel. I felt like I was crashing a party I wasn't invited to.

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  9. I left a comment. Tip me.

    (And for chrissakes...tip the housekeeping staffs...and well! Can you imagine doing what they do? I consider it a "gross bodily fluid" and "people are pigs" bonus. Even though I, as you, clean up and keep the room anal-retentively organized throughout my stay.)

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    1. I know, I know. I need to start leaving a tip. It's actually even worse. My wife used to work for housekeeping for a hotel and she's told me many times "BE SURE TO LEAVE A TIP!". I'm a horrible human.

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  10. For the love of Scrooge don't hug someone if you are contemplating what to do about a tip, unless it is for a massage, then they expect it. Go ahead, try it. Ellen

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    1. Ah, nice try. I'm not going to make that mistake again. For the third time. This month.

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  11. I just close my eyes and replay the diner/tipping scene from Reservoir Dogs in my head, then I go with whatever Mr. I feel like that day. One thing that aggravates me, though, is that tipping has become standard regardless of the level of service- if my waiter looks all bored, brings me the wrong food and doesn't clean up the dirty dishes on the one single occasion that they come to check on the table? You get a dollar. Suck it. That's not cheap, that's motivation, so technically I'm doing them a service too. You're welcome.

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    1. I agree with everything you say and I'm going to start traveling with my copy of Reservoir Dogs so that I can easily reference it when I find myself in a tipping situation.

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  12. As a socially awkward American, I really hate "hand them the money" tipping like for valet and bellhops and so on. I feel so stupid doing it. I'll happily leave a tip a la the tooth fairy - no personal interaction involved, so hugging really isn't an option for me.

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    1. You know, I think that is another reason why I hate tipping the valet. I feel so snobby and almighty when handing them the money. I always like being handed cash so I'm sure they would prefer I do it but I feel all Lord Grantham like when I do it which is not me at all.

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  13. Pat is bashing the Orange County residents and he's a cheap bastard from Orange County which I am trying to wrap my brain around. It does not compute.

    Please tell me that you tip when you:
    a) get your hair cut
    b) get a massage or
    c) get a mani/pedi
    Everyone who touches your body should get extra cash for that. And if you're forcing them to hug you, you're forcing them to touch your body and they should therefore be tipped.

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    1. Hey! Let's get one thing clear...I'm a cheap bastard from OREGON. Completely different kind of cheap bastard.

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    2. You also said, "Everyone who touches your body should get extra cash for that". Does this include my wife?

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    3. I read Orange County residents and thought you were from here, sorry. But don't lump all of us Orange County folk in with people who don't hug. Sure, I don't hug, but that's because if I hug someone, that constitutes me forcing them to let me touch their body and then I would have to tip them.

      And how you and your wife choose to handle the touching and tipping issue is between you and your wife. Live and let live Pat.

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  14. I, too, am clueless when it comes to tipping. I get all socially anxious and then my brain explodes.

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    1. And with an exploded brain there's more to clean up which makes you feel like you should leave a bigger tip and so on and so on. It can be vicious circle.

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  15. I think this might be the funniest thing I have ever read. I am printing it out, laminating it (I am a Virgo and that is how we roll), and taking it with me in my suitcase for any and all future hotel stays.

    Although, I do feel compelled to point out that you did not actually come to a general consensus. So I am truly more confused than ever. I will most likely show the laminated sheet to all the people I am *supposed* to tip and try to distract them from the fact that I am not tipping them. For this I thank you.

    I was a flight attendant for 10 years, imagine my confusion in those days about tipping! Tip the van driver who put my suitcase in the hotel van? Or avoid eye contact and mumble thank you? I must admit I did tip him sheerly out of peer pressure.

    One last thought: tipping is sexy! but then, keeping your money (so you have more) is sexy too...........

    best,
    MOV

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    1. Thanks! I think the general consensus was that tipping sucks. But it sucks in a sexy way.

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  16. So, waitstaff minimum wage in Colorado is $2.13 an hour, as it is assumed they will make at least real minimum wage with tips. If you ever plan to eat there again, tip 20%.

    Most fast food places have policies forbidding the employees from taking tips, and they pay actual minimum wage.

    Other than that, I only tip if I think I will see them again, or if they have power over your belongings. :)

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  17. Interesting discussion here, I'm always awkward on how to tip in hotels.
    As for take-out, since I've been in restaurant biz for 15 years, I'll weigh in. It's absolutely obnoxious when people call in a take out at a fine dining restaurant on a Saturday night. Period. Fine dining spots don't have designated takeout people, the bartenders have to deal with it usually, pulling them away from customers that they are trying to give good service to (and make good tips from) and other staff who need their drinks made. In these situations, it's a pretty good idea to leave even a dollar or two, easy enough when the meal is 20 bucks a plate, just so the staff doesn't resent your face. Nowwww, ok, there are definitely restaurants that are better set up for take out, less expensive, and, of course, better times to order ie, 6:30 vs 7:00. Nevertheless, tipped employees are having to take time away from tipping tables to package boxes, type in orders, take payment, answer phones etc. Our job sure, but I'm positive if your income was "modular" so to speak, you wouldn't be too thrilled if lower paying tasks took higher paying hours out of your paycheck.
    This is why servers hate togos. Yet if people toss in a buck or two, it really makes it a 100 times better.
    Ok, *hands in the air* done! Sorry for ranting :P

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