Posts Tagged ‘tipping etiquete’

Is that seat taken?

June 1, 2010

So I was sitting in church one Sunday being all attentive to the pastor as he was preaching and stuff, when at the back of my mind, I keep hearing an insistent ‘is that seat taken?’. There was no need for me to look around, or even waste an entire thought wondering what the muted commotion was about.I already knew what was going on; one of the ‘special people’ had arrived at church.

The special ones are those people who insist on showing up for church at least an hour late every Sunday. Now I’m not talking about people who are visiting and may have gotten the time wrong; no, I’m talking about those who have been members ‘ever since’. They know exactly when church starts, in fact, they have the entire program memorized so they know what happens and when they happen. Basically this means that they made a conscious decision  to show up late and disrupt the service. But maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Maybe every Sunday, the same people get caught in the same traffic jam on their way to the same service…..it could happen; some people are slow learners.

My thing is though, slow learner or not, why do these people harbor the belief that church has assigned seating? Furthermore, why do they not dispense with this belief, when Sunday after Sunday they show up and ‘their’ pew is so crowded,that there is barely room to breathe? Even further, why is it that even after seeing that the pew is crowded, do they not find someplace else to sit? Nope, that would be way too easy. Instead, they literally squeeze themselves into the tiniest of spaces and then do the ‘Holy Ghost wiggle’; a neat little trick which consists of pretending  to get all involved in the preaching with lots of amens, hallelujahs, and hand waving,  all while wiggling your way into position so that you end up being the most comfortable person in the pew. Everyone else, by the way, is on the edge of their seats……..and not with anticipation.

These are the more brazen of the special ones. There is another group that shows up just before offering is taken up and hang around at the door. Then, when people are filing up, in complete obedience to the word and following the guidance of the ushers, these low down sinners, sneak in and steal their seats.  Have you ever come back to your seat after giving your offering and found that somehow, there doesn’t seem to be as much room as when you left? It’s like digging a hole in the ground and trying to fill it back up with the same dirt you just dug out….you just can’t seem to get it all in there. It’s pretty easy to identify the culprit though, just look down the pew for the person who is so intent on ‘their worship’ that they’re completely oblivious to anything or anyone around them.

As if showing up late and ‘discommoding’ (this is not a word, but my mother used it all the time to convey her angst at inconsiderate behavior) other people on your own is not enough, many of the special ones bring friends along with them. Now instead of one person stepping on your toes, you end up with an entire family trampling all over your ‘good shoes’, without so much as an excuse me. And why is it that there is always one in the group who has a weak bladder that starts to act up the second they sit down?

Some of them even send ‘scouts’ ahead of the pack. This person is particularly sneaky, because they arrive all smiling and polite and ask if they can sit there. You get all polite back and make room for them and stuff; then when they’re all comfy, they stand up and start waving at the back of the church. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you find yourself ‘invaded’ by the ‘country cousins’. You know what they say……no good deed goes unpunished, not even in church. Actually especially not in church; look at what happened to Christ, and all he wanted to do was to make things better for everybody.

Then you have the ones who think the usher is just like a Wal-Mart greeter; there to say good morning and hand you a program. These are the ones who blow right by the ushers and insist on finding their own seats. Of course this whole finding your own seat is a drama all on its own, since it usually involves standing conspicuously in the aisle, and spinning around while trying to make eye contact with someone to inquire (in your loudest whisper), as to the availability of the seat next to them. This usually ends up in a major communication breakdown, since, oftentimes, the ‘contactee’ may nod, yes, thinking the question was ‘is anyone sitting there?’ when the question was ‘is that seat empty?’. One can easily see how such an interaction could get all ‘involved’.

Of course this will never change. After all, as my mother used to say ‘monkey know which tree to climb’, so these people can be relatively certain that no one is going call them out on their behavior. It is church after all and ‘church people’ are nothing, if not polite. You can get away with all sorts of stuff at church; they have the whole ‘come as you are, turn the other cheek’ thing going on,  so you’re pretty safe acting like you have no training. People will make room for you and smile benevolently when you step on them, as you squeeze your way through.

This is where some people can learn a thing or two from the monkeys; not only do they know which tree to climb, but they are also keenly aware of WHEN to climb said trees, and this is where many of the special ones fall short. They don’t understand that ‘church behavior’ is an animal all its own, not to be mistaken for ‘regular behavior’, which tends to be a tad more reactionary. Have you ever met someone whose attitude was ‘not me an dem people in dat church nah, dey too hypocrite’?  That, my friend, may have been the lament of one who stepped on some church toes………on a week day.

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Here’s a tip……

March 20, 2010

I need some help with this one. Let me preface this though, by saying that I do leave tips when I eat out. Sometimes I even leave tips when I feel like I shouldn’t.Pretty much all of us dine out from time to time. Some. more often than others, so I was just wondering if there were others out there who feel a little put upon sometimes when it comes to the whole tipping thing?

Come on, you have to admit, though that there is something a little bit confusing about just giving away extra money for no apparent reason. Have you ever gone into a store, to buy, let’s see……a watch;

“How much is that watch?” says you.
“$50” says the salesman.
“Hmmm………..how about I pay you $60 and you don’t even need to wrap it?” says you.
“In that case I also have several other items over here that you might be interested in ….” says the salesman as he calls his wife to tell her “Honey, maybe we can take that vacation after all”.

Doesn’t seem to make a whole bunch of sense now does it?

Still, lets look at some of the reasons people offer as to why we should give money away. By far the strongest argument is, “well you know they only make $2.13 an hour?”. Now that’s not even an argument. That is one of those between a rock and a hard place kinda things, the proverbial low blow, below the belt, no fair and all that. I mean what exactly are you supposed to say in response to that? There is no easy way to respond without looking lower than the lowest form of life known to man (some people I know would say, that you’re so low, you need to stand on tip-toe to reach the white line in the middle of the road)so typically you leave it alone, pull out your wallet,leave a nice tip and be done with the whole thing. There are some people who try the old, “so what” argument, but these people generally end up living sad lonely lives,dying alone in “faciilties” with names like Shady Pines, while muttering to themselves, “I shoulda tipped”. So if you want to go down that road, its fine by me…..I just want to make sure that you have a clear sense of the risks involved.

Before we go on though, I just wanted to say, for the record, that I always leave a tip. I’m not suggesting that there could be repercussions or anything if you don’t (why does my steak look….uuumm….wiped?), I just always tip.

Then we have the ever so popular, “well you’re supposed to tip to show your appreciation for the service you received”. AHA!!!!!! For those among you who don’t tip, you pounce on this one, its what some people call “a gimme”, and you quickly respond,”well I didn’t appreciate the service. We made reservations, came here 15 minutes beforehand, told them we were here and STILL had to wait an hour before we were seated. Your hot date then says, “but…”at which point you interject with “but nothing!!!!!, they mixed up our orders, served us cold food, and never even apologized”. Unfortunately for many people when they are in this “zone of righteous indignation”, they are not able to accurately detect subtle hints, like when the aformentioned hot date suddenly gets up and says (in an extreeeeemely even tone), “I’ll meet you in the car”. (I think they have karaoke nights at Shady Pines if you’re into that kinda thing)

We also have the fancy schmancy Wall Street type explanation, Ahem, “we need to be able incentivize (is that even a word?) our entry level employees so that we could attain efficiencies on a global scale which would allow us to provide a product to our customers that is second to none. The people in these positions are the face of the organizatiion and it is a strategic imperative that these individuals feel motivated to give 150% (not possible) each and every time a customer walks through our doors. Ummmmm….riight! Hey!! I have an idea…how about you pay them more, that should incentivize the living daylights out of them.

So as you can see, we still haven’t gotten very far along. We still have to clue as to the why of the thing. I do think though that this is a good time to note that I always leave a tip, just in case (a new kind of sauce you say?).

How about the “how much”? Personally I’m a flat amount kinda guy. I tip in whole dollars, “as the spirit moves me” as they say. I’m not interested in percentages. You do a good job, you get a nice tip. You do a not so good job, you get a not so nice tip (okay, I admit it, I’m an enabler, but as the song says, you do you and I’ll do me). So the problem with my system is that you get a tip either way, which blows up the whole “incentivizing” argument…since most people will settle for something without having to expend too much effort.

Of course oftentimes, both the if and the how much are taken out of your hands with many places adding an automatic gratuity depending on the size of your party….can someone say variable tax?. Could you believe it? They tax you because too many people are eating at their restaurants at one time.

The whole tipping thing has become such a lucrative activity (I read somewhere it was about $14B annually) that almost everybody is getting in on the game. Apart from the traditional, waiters,barbers, etc., its gotten so people are just arbitrarily putting out tip jars and expect you to fill them up (panhandling is illegal in some states but obviously there are ways around everything). I fully expect one day to see someone open a new business establishment for the sole purpose of accepting tips. They won’t even go through the trouble of pretending to provide a service. They’ll even have drive through windows.

The point is, I have no real issue with tipping. I think however, we should be taking a more common sense approach to the thing. Enough with all the tipping etiquette (who came up with all these percentages anyway), if someone does a good job and you feel inclined to show your appreciation, then by all means do so, if you’re not so inclined (or maybe you can’t afford it)then you should be able to walk away without the stigma of “cheapskate” attached you. And if they do a poor job, you should be able to leave with a clear conscience. After all, you did pay for your meal.

Anyway, that’s just my take on the whole thing. I think that if we are allowed to be guided by our own sense of appreciation and the people we tip by a sense of service, then the whole relationship becomes a more fulfilling one all around. As it stands the whole thing seems like a game of “one upmanship” with big tippers trying to outdo each other and servers etc. practising “financial profiling” on the other end.

What did you say this was floating in my drink….


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