Tipping is not a town in China


And when did tipping become compulsory? Surely that's a contradiction in terms? And yet in many instances leaving no tip will result in a glare that Medusa herself would be proud of; and that’s if you’re lucky. A choice swear word or a clip round the ear is a distinct possibility. Tipping now seems to have more nefarious uses. One example, is it can be used to avoid companies obeying the law. Some restaurants hire people below minimum wage and make it up by the service charge. So without the 'discretionary charge' they are in breach of employment law. Other variations can be anything from laundering cash to covering up running a numbers racket.

...and another thing

Because it’s usually discretionary I often get a squirmy feeling as to how much I should leave. Too much I look like a braggart, too little and it might get left behind in disgust.

“You keep it. You obviously need it more than me”!

It’s the only etiquette conundrum I can think of that is not social. How the hell was I supposed to know the usherette in a French Cinema needs a tip or that in Japan giving anyone a tip is as socially acceptable as white socks with a dinner jacket.

...and another thing

A tip is a thank you for going the extra mile. Now it’s a requirement or the person will actually go back a mile. I lost my passport at an airport recently. It was recovered and I was contacted by a middle management official asking me to come to his office. As a ‘favor’ he wasn’t handing it in as “it would take days to get it back. Better I just hand it back, you give me a ‘drink’ (UK slang for a tip) and we call it a day”! So I handed him £50 and got my passport back…..but was I saying thanks or getting perilously close to bribing an airport official?

...and another thing

The list of things I am expected to tip for is bloody endless. Taxis, restaurants, bellhop, room service, doorman, usher in the cinema (in France), tour guide, gamekeeper, undertaker, concierge, restaurant greeter, party bouncer, valet parker, mouse exterminator, babysitter, spray tanner, the Madam (oops), etc etc. Before we know it the list will expand to add dentists doctors, bankers and accountants; then on to security guards policemen border control and hey presto a tip is a bribe and we all go to jail.

It’s complicated.

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  1. Peter says:

    Great observation !! On holiday in Tenerife recently I habitually put on the customary 10%. We had a particularly good waitress who served us our breakfast and went out of her way to help including getting me an extra portion of the eggs Benedict. When we left I slipped her a tip in euros with which I was more than happy. She was delighted. I then rather wish that I had not put on the customary 10%!

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