Friday, June 01, 2007

Tipping Jars

It was common to see grown-ups pay gratuity for nothing to all service providers back home in India when I was growing up. The mailman got a bonus during Dusshera as did the milkman, the domestic help, gardener, chauffer, barber, fishmonger among a host of others. Anyone who touched your life even at tangent expected to get tipped. It did not matter that none of them went beyond the call of duty and most often they were seriously negligent about it.

It was that time of year when you paid them for their existence. In the Diwali parties that followed, ladies would share with each other how much they paid whom only to be chided by the others for their extravagance and raising the bar for everyone else. Yet no one said it was unnecessary to pay anything at all or encouraged the community to stop. It was a cultural thing, you went with the flow, did not seek rationale and tried to keep the tips "reasonable"

It is interesting to see someone comment about a similar trend in the US. From experience it seems like people should not be filling those tip jars up if they are not getting any personal attention or out of the norm service. The commentator correctly points out :

Tipping used to be confined to service-oriented occupations: waitresses, taxi drivers, doormen. Now it has spread to businesses where I seem to be doing most of the work.

Those tipping jars may well be the first step down a slippery slope that descends into a cesspool of corruption. It is never a good idea to get people used to the idea that they can get money for doing nothing.

1 comment:

ggop said...

Now and then I toss my change into tip jars in modest establishments. Mainly because I read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. I figure many places pay more than minimum wage but its not enough to get by in Silicon Valley.

I agree that no one should be shamed into tipping if they haven't had full service.

My sisters in law worked as chamber maids during summer holidays in hotels in their late teens. They said they always were happy if the hotel guest left couple of pounds for the cleaning crew.