Monday, July 9, 2007

a really long rant with no real purpose

Jparks and I are now back from vacation and I must say a good time was had by all. Towards the end of the trip we were both ready to head home, but generally everything was wonderful and we really enjoyed Maui.

Actually there was one thing that bothered me but it's not something that's specific to Maui, it's more of a general vacation complaint. Between dining out for every meal, all the drinks I got from the bar, and all of the shuttle rides from the airport to the rental car place, and from the rental car place back to the airport, I felt like I was being expected to tip a whole butt-load of money. And this really started to piss me off beyond belief annoy me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tipping waiters. I know from experience how much it sucks to wait on a table and then find they've left you no tip. When that happened I always silently yelled in my head "dammit! Thanks for letting me pay to wait on you" because really, that's what happens. Waiters make a lower minimum wage than other workers thanks to their tips. An honest waiter, not wanting to piss off the IRS, will claim at least 10% of their total sales for the night for tax purposes. When you don't add a tip the waiter still has to claim some amount on your bill and, yes, another table probably has tipped more than enough to cover your not tipping, but still, the guilt, it kills me.

That being said sometimes it really burns my bottom when I'm expected to tip a person. Starbucks, I'm pointing fingers at you. It's well known that they rank high on the lists of best companies to work for, thanks to high hourly wage rates and great benefits. Most ones I've been in even have some kind of sign indicating that employees start at hourly wages well above the minimum wage. And yet, you will always find a tip jar sitting out. Call me mean, but I'm way more likely to tip at a small, independent coffee house that probably doesn't pay more than minimum wage than I am at Starbucks. I worked at a record store, making minimum wage with no benefits and I wasn't allowed to put out a tip jar. It took as much energy to not make fun of you for purchasing a Micheal Bolton cd as it takes a barista to not spit into your mocha latte and for that I deserved a tip.

But really, Starbucks is not what pushed me over the edge while in Maui (although we did spend some time in various Starbucks). What did it were the times I was supposed to tip the guy that drives the van from the airport to the rental car place. And the bartender that wants a tip every single time I order a drink, not just one tip that's enough to cover all my drinks for the day. And the tour guy that did an excellent job but dammit, the tour cost so much to begin with I didn't have money left over for a tip. And the servers that openly talked about a table that just left that didn't tip them. Hey, the food sucks and you are really a crappy server! If I didn't have the guilt I wouldn't have tipped you either! Those, my friends, are the things that pushed me over the edge.

In fact, I went so far over the edge that one day I tipped the loudmouth servers less than 15% of my bill just out of spite. How dare you talk about another table right out in the open. I'll show you! You only get a $4 tip today! Take that! And just so you know, I did feel pretty guilty after it was done.

I ended up not tipping the van drivers, even though one of them even had a couple of dollars stuck into his dashboard indicating "Hey you with the money, I would like a tip. Why? Um, because I drove this van without hitting a single person, and for that I rule! Now give me a dollar." I didn't give him a dollar. I'm sorry, but successfully driving a van does not earn you a tip. You didn't even get up from your seat to help with the luggage, in fact you had a little sign saying you weren't allowed to help with luggage. Screw you, no tip!

I feel the most guilty about not tipping the tour guide. He was really great, even giving us a free hat when jparks had to swim into a pond to retrieve a lost baggie of cocaine. But the tour was expensive. And it was one of those times when I wasn't really sure if tipping was appropriate. And I didn't think we had any cash. Just call us stupid tourists. If the guilt gets bad enough I might mail him a check as a late tip. Man, I'm a wimp.

I know there were other times jparks and I felt pressured into tipping (the bellman that drove us in the hotel van a fourth of a mile to the other part of the hotel) but resisted. Call us stingy, call us cheap, but sometimes tipping is not necessary.

Maybe I should start a virtual tip jar on my sidebar. Hey folks, I drove to work today without running anyone over, can I have a dollar? Maybe Lily can tip me each time I take her out to pee. Two bucks each trip should be acceptable, don't you think?


  1. I think you're just grumpy b/c you had to come back from such a beautiful vacation! I only tip the drivers if they get out and pick up my super heavy bags and put them on the shuttle then off the shuttle, then it's a total of $2 (call me cheap, but I do tip waiters more than Adam does). I don't tip at Starbucks, but I occasionally tip at the local coffee shop. I never feel bad about not tipping crappy or non-existent service, b/c really, it's called WORK because you have to WORK. I do tip the tour guides, but only b/c I now know that it's expected, so we always carry a little bit of extra cash for that one. Don't worry, I'm sure they're not reporting that to the IRS and I'm sure there was some other sucker who gave them way too much to cover for you.

    Oh, and what's the story w/ the cocaine baggy?

  2. There's a New Orleans cooking blog I visit that actually does have a virtual tip jar in the sidebar. It would be one thing if the guy was trying to rebuild his house post-Katrina or something, but he actually lives in the Bay Area. I mean, sure, it's nice to have a recipe for doberge cake, but I'm not tipping you for it.

  3. I was following very well (and agreeing) until the cocaine comment. Then I lost all concentration.

    When I did my 6-month adventure at Marble Slab (aka hell) working for minimum wage, I always felt kinda guilty when people would put money in our tip jar. Not so much when they just threw in their extra change, because let's face it, most people do that out of convenience and not 100% selflessness, but when people would put in $2 or $3 or even $5 (that happened once when I told a guy I liked his UT hat), I'd feel bad. Like, I'm just mixing some candy in your ice cream, and even though there are places I'd rather be obviously, this is my job and I already get paid for it (barely).

  4. So we went on this hiking tour and it ended at some waterfalls with ponds. We walked up to one and a baggie was floating in the water. The tour guide immediately saw it and ushered our group onto another pond/waterfall area near by because we had two kids in our group. At this point he wasn't really sure what the baggie was, but thought it was better to be safe than sorry. After getting us settled into the new pond he went to retrieve the baggie because other tour groups were going to be coming through shortly. He couldn't reach it without getting wet so jparks jumped in to grab it. Turned out it was a baggie of cocaine, so he gave jparks a free hat for being a drug dog. The cocaine was dumped in the woods somewhere and the empty baggie brought back to hike headquarters.