Friday, August 28, 2015
365 True Things: 152/Tipping
As they prepared to settle their check, the party-of-four next to us was discussing tips. I heard one half of the older couple (I think it was parents and daughter and daughter's fiancé) mention how you shouldn't tip on wine. Well, I don't know if that's true anymore, but when I was young I definitely saw that advice in a Dear Abby column. And sometimes—like, when we've gotten an especially expensive (for us) bottle of wine—I act on it. I mean, how much more work is a costly bottle than a cheap one?
Me, I know that waiters rely on good tips for their income, because we live in a silly country where minimum wage couldn't even support a dog. (Our dog, at any rate.)
But I hate that we have this ridiculous tipping system—where it's up to the consumer to pay just a little bit more, rather than expect the employer to pay a decent wage.
That's one of the beauties, for me, of traveling overseas, where the price on the menu is the price you pay. No tax added on top; no tip expected (though a small one is always appreciated). The tax is included, and the workers are paid a decent wage. So when Americans complain about the price of a meal in Paris, for example, I'm pretty sure they're forgetting that here they'd be paying 25–30 percent more than the list price. And that adds up quick.
And on the flipside, I had just arrived in Stockholm and was hungry after a long day of travel. I found a rather unlikely restaurant—I remember TexMex Buffalo, or something—and had a nice meal (it wasn't fast food). The check came and I thought, "Oh, that's quite reasonable." The service had been good. I left a 20 percent tip. Only when I got back to the hotel did it occur to me that you don't leave tips in Sweden.
I don't like tipping my hairdresser—and she charges a decent enough price that I don't, but perhaps she's disappointed? I don't like tipping hotel bellboys, so I carry my own bags. I don't like tipping taxi drivers, because $20 from my house to the airport a mile away is already highway robbery (but there, I have no idea who actually gets those twenty bucks).
I don't like tipping, period.
It's not that I'm not generous. I can be. It's that the practice seems a relic of premodern times. In this day and age, we should all know what we're paying for, there should be set prices, and everyone should be able to survive. I know that my attitude (not to mention what's reasonable) doesn't help all the people who rely on tips, and so I do try . . . Honest I do.
And now: don't get me started on airfares . . .