posted by Joe Anaya on September 17th, 2012

How do I start this topic without sounding like an old curmudgeon? (That’s really Matt W.’s bailiwick.) But if I were king of the world I would eliminate tipping. It’s such a weird activity nowadays, I find it very confusing and would be very happy to be rid of the stress.

“How much do I tip?” is a constant debate. In Los Angeles, 15% is a little on the cheap side, it’s closer to 20% or 25% for food service. But what if I’m with a few friends at an expensive restaurant, and we all order appetizers, meals, a couple of deserts and a few bottles of wine. Does the waiter really deserve $75 for 1 ½ hours of work? Some restaurants automatically add the tip if you have a party of 8 or more. What if they did a bad job? You have no choice but to tip them.

I’ve been to hotels where the gratuity is added in to the room service, but there’s still the expectation of a physical tip for the bellman that brings the food. Didn’t I just sign for a double-dip tip?

As I got older and became aware of my father tipping sometimes 10%. I couldn’t tell if he was bad at math or that was a normal tip for his generation. He wasn’t a stingy person, in fact, once I heard my mom accuse him of trying to show off to a cute waitress, by leaving a good tip. How much could it have been? I used to leave a little extra to get his tip up to the then standard of 15%.

The comedian Adam Carolla, says its all a scam. He’s going to start a construction company where you pay him as the general contractor and at some point he goes to the owners and says, “Well I only pay the electricians minimum wage. Really, you need to give them some money for doing a good job.” Is there any other industry like that? Can you imagine having to tip a surgeon? They’re in the service industry aren’t they? Who deserves more recognition and more attempts to make them happy to work with you?

How much do you tip a hair stylist? $10? What if they own the shop? Doesn’t that negate the fact you’re making up for how little their employer pays them? So, in theory I shouldn’t tip the owner when she cuts my hair, right. But I do. Because it feels weird not to.

I once got a $30 massage from one of the cheap massage places in town. After paying, I had a $20 bill and a $5 bill. I decided to give the masseuse the $5, figuring it’s about 15%. But she was not happy. She glared at the money in her hand like she was picking up the remnants of a flaming doorbell ditch. “Don’t you have more? Most people give me at least $10,” she snarled. Part of me felt bad, but part of me wanted to snatch back my $5. She did her job, it wasn’t exceptional, but somehow she expected a bigger tip. After telling her I didn’t have any more, I slipped out the door feeling her daggers in my back and the tension rising in my shoulders before the door closed behind me.

Not all countries even tip. We were in Ireland and had a nice meal out our first night and left a generous tip. When we got settled in the hotel, I read in the travel guide that tipping is not expected in Ireland. Lesson learned. But I love the idea of an entire nation where no one expects a tip. I’m guessing some smart king came up with that rule.


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