Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Premature Tipping

I am seemingly always victimized by the upfront tip.

This is when the counter girl rings you up and you conspicuously jam a bill or two and change into the "college fund" jar or whatever.

Invariably, whenever I do this they botch my order or forget about it. I get really pissed off and quite frankly am itching to reach back in and repossess the propina.

It happened again last week at the airport. I parked my car at Thrify's long-term parking; they shuttled me to the AirTran gate - or so I thought. The guy was nice and helped me with my bags...I handed him $5 before he sped away.

The problem was, he dropped me off at baggage claim. Sure I wss able to go in and, after an elevator and quite a hike, I could check in at the Airtran ticket counter. BUT I was hoping to do curbside. This haul really did a number on my fragile back - at the start of a lengthy golf trip, mind you. There's a reason why I printed out my boarding passes the night before (and there's another). The driver really screwed me. I'll bet it was probably a heck of a lot more convenient for him to drop me where he did in terms of getting his butt back to Thrifty. More experience air travelers are probably laughing at me here.

From now on, at least with food, I am going to put the money next to the tip jar in a state of advertised abeyance!

I worked for tips when I was an addled youth and people were extremely generous to me - and I am talking working class people. So I've been making a point to remind myself of this and be an even better tipper than already I am. But the problem is, when I was in the service biz I was FAST, COURTEOUS, and THOROUGHLY COMPETENT. Today, at least in Boston, you're lucky if you get a smile from a server. Make no mistake, they're doing you a favor by LETTING YOU BUY FROM THEM - or so they believe up in the dour and sour Northeast.

Not long ago some handsome lad promptly filled up my Suburban with 40 gallons or so of gas. I signed the credit card receipt and handed it to him with $3. He looked at it askance and tried to just peel the receipt from my hand. I said, "That's a tip." He was dumbfounded. "What, you don't get many tips here?".

"Never," he enlightened me.

It's a chicken-and-egg question then.

What came first in Boston: the I'm-doing-you-a-favor-when-I-feel-like-it service or the miserly gratuities???

I just wish I could expect good service and tip well automatically. Because of this local obtuseness I forever have to pay attention to whether or not they really earned a bonus. It sucks.

The only thing worse than the premature tip is the premature over-tip, on account of not having the appropriate small bills!

I fulminated on tipping (and pencilhead Greg Mankiw) about a year ago in Marginalizing Cheapskates.

Ah, Seinfeld episode - The Calzone!

George becomes Steinbrenner's pet, when he shares an eggplant calzone with him. Steinbrenner then has George bring him a calzone for lunch everyday. One day, when George throws his money into the tip jar unnoticed, he attempts to grab it to place it back when someone was looking. Just as he is grabbing the money the guy turns and, under the impression that George is stealing money from the jar, refuses to sell him any more calzones.

There were no fewer than 1,000 similarly crazy incidents when I worked with a tip jar in front of me. As a cashier, you can't stare at the tip jar, or linger there glaring while the customer has to decide *whether or not* and *how much* to tip. I'd give them the change and run away much like the greaseball at Paisano's.

Then they'd be hollerin' "HERE YOU GO, CUZ...AIGHT!"

I loved Philly.

(The most memorable incident involved a pubescent who tried, unsuccessfully, to abscond with my tip jar. I nearly choked him to death over the $15 or so.)

Gotta love these last two pics I found on Flickr.

And I'll bet you jabroni's didn't think I could elaborate the raunchy connotation of herbal, made-in-China Magic Delay Spray!

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