So what's a "proper" tip? The question emerges after a holiday season with several restaurant meals, a haircut, and a car wash.
We Americans are used to tipping. So are most Europeans, Canadians, Central and South Americans. The "no tipping" policy we found in Taiwan last spring felt awkward. But they just don't do it there.
So, how much is enough?
In restaurants, 15% of the bill used to be standard, maybe a little more if the service was really good or the waiter was especially nice or funny or likable in some other way. But over time, and in flush years, that crept up to 20%. Now, when the check arrives at the table, the most oft asked question is "Why leave 20%? You'll never see this guy again." Good question now that times are less flush.
Twenty percent on a cab ride? Cabbies have it tough. They rent their cars, buy their own gas, and don't get a nickel until they've made the day's rent. If they own the car, they have to get a hack medallion. How much are they these days? At last check, about $250,000. That's not a typo. Imagine the cost of THAT small business loan. And you can't imagine the phone book-thick set of rules that go with it. But fares and fees have risen stratospherically in recent years, so what's a passenger to do?
The barber: It depends if you're going to a "stylist" or "just" a guy who cuts hair. And it depends on the price. Find a good guy at a good price and 40% is not outrageous. And it'll make him (or her) look forward to your next visit.
Politicians often expect tips, they just don't want to be seen accepting them. Amount negotiable.
Do you tip the guy at Home Depot for helping you load a 300 pound furnace onto a truck? If so, how much? How about the mail deliverer at Christmastime? (Not legal, but who is watching?) The exterminator, the phone tech? The geek from the Geek Squad? The trash/garbage/recycling collector?
The amount sometimes feels like you're buying "protection." But sometimes it makes giver and receiver feel good. Especially these days.
--Trouble aboard the "Enterprise." Not THAT "Enterprise," the aircraft carrier of the same name where the Captain's been relieved of his command for making and showing homemade "blue" movies to the crew. His name is Owen Honors.
--Merry Christmas to our friends attending church at Our Lady of Lourdes in Massapequa, Long Island, all 7500 of you. Good chance your wafer contained more than you thought. The local health department says one of the guys who handled the wafers has Hepatitis A. No one sickened so far, but the danger remains.
--If you're reading some classics, and you wonder why they go on and on and on, here's an answer. Many writers were paid by the word or by the "installment." Given that arrangement, what would you do?
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®