I always have trouble with tipping. Not trouble with the concept – I understand that people in many service industries aren’t very highly paid, and tips are an important part of their income. I also like the way tipping gives the customer some control over the final price they pay depending on how well they have been served.
For example, you tip the pretty girl who brings a hamburger and drink to your table (it’s always a pretty girl for some reason), but you don’t tip the person who hands you a hamburger and drink at the counter. You tip the lady who cuts your hair, but you don’t tip the guy who takes the load of stinky garbage from outside your door. I sometimes wonder what the world would be like if we rewarded the people who do the “little jobs”.
Take today for instance. It’s mid morning and we have some time to kill before we head out. I need a haircut. There’s a hairdresser nearby so I decide to walk. The street is filled with noise and bright orange flags. They’re resurfacing about twenty metres of road near the corner. I count fourteen people in reflective vests. That sure seems like a lot of people for one itty bitty bit of road!
OK, those two ladies are directing traffic, that guy is driving the big truck and that guy there operates the paving machine. Allowing two more for the big rollers, that leaves eight potential supervisors! I move on, get my haircut (leaving a tip of course), and soon I’m back at the same intersection. There’s a load of fresh asphalt on the road. The paving machine is finishing, the rollers are rolling, and five guys with shovels and brooms are filling the little gaps by hand. Ah, so that’s what they all do. That just leaves the guy standing next to them (supervisor?), the guy writing notes in his little pad (QA?), and the older guy over in the shade leaning back on a wall with his eyes closed (boss?). OK, everyone present and accounted for.
Mystery solved I head on home. It’s time to try that chocolate cake that Nanette and Kai made yesterday. They iced it this morning and we have all been eagerly awaiting that first taste. Knife. Plate. Cut. Plop. Bite. Man, that’s good! Hmm – they made it, cut it, and brought it to me. Do I have to leave a tip?