When I think of American traditions, my thoughts usually drift to football, barbecue and a bunch of holidays that give people an excuse to get wasted. Lately though, I can only think about one thing: tipping. Americans have forever been notorious for their exceptionally nice tipping habits. Just this summer, an unidentified man gave a waitress in Kansas a $10,000 tip. Whether he got a happy ending to his meal or not, we will never know, but the fact of the matter stands. It is my personal understanding that people are willing to dish out large tips because, as a society, we wish to propagate the American ideal of being rewarded for one’s hard work. What fails to make any sense to me, however, is the fact that so many American workers go through life never getting tipped, while others make a living off it.
Waiters have always been tipped and that makes perfect sense to me, since they should be rewarded for their service. They have to manage many tables at a time, while constantly assuring each customer that he or she is their number one concern. Yet, I fail to see how a salesperson who works her ass off for nine hours a day, running around hardwood floors wearing high-heeled shoes, should not get tipped. I bring it up because I worked in retail, and this one time a swell guy handed me a $20 tip. After failing to convince him to take back the money, I got to thinking. Sure, $20 is a little ridiculous, but why shouldn’t I get tipped when some moron is making $100 a day in tips scooping ice cream? And why shouldn’t the guy who gives me a slice of pizza get tipped the same? It tastes just as good. I guess it’s because he’s not blonde and flirty. And what about those lovely ladies who work at dry cleaners? They have to sit in 10-foot by 10-foot rooms all day without air conditioning, while still managing to please that annoying soccer mom who comes in to complain about lipstick stains on her new bra.
The more I think about the inconsistencies in tipping, the more upset I get. I’m beginning to realize that the whole process is completely arbitrary. Pizza delivery guys get nice tips because they have to navigate their way to my door. Right? Then why does that really nice guy from UPS never get anything? Maybe he gets paid a lot more than the pizza guy, but why should it matter? Tips to me are not so much about how much the person is getting paid, but about how much I appreciate his or her service. For instance, I always try to tip the car wash people well, because I know they have been working really hard. Still, when I think about it, the money I give to that one guy who brings me my keys is probably split up between five other people, making my tip useless.
The people in life who really don’t deserve the tips they get are taxi drivers and valets. Most of the cabbies I’ve come across make up bullshit fares, drive erratically and take the longest possible routes, which leaves me wondering why the hell I should ever tip them. As for valets, these guys don’t deserve jack. Besides the fact that they get paid to drive luxury cars around, they get ten spots thrown at them all night by old money chumps. Yes, I’m jealous, but do these guys really deserve such gratuity? Plus, the valets are probably all frat guys who will later spend their money getting drunk or stoned. Wait, no. They are drunk. And stoned.
Daily Nexus columnist Adam Wenger believes he should be rewarded for his services as a columnist and is accepting tips.