Saturday, January 26, 2008

he hates tipping, too

"Tipping confounds me because it is not a reward but a travel tax, one of many, one of the more insulting. No one is spared. It does not matter that you are paying thousands to stay in the presidential suite in the best hotel: the uniformed man seeing you to the elevator, inquiring about your trip, giving you a weather report, and carrying your bags to the suite expects money for this unasked-for attention. Out front, the doorman, gasconading in gold braid, wants a tip for snatching open a cab door. The bartender wants a proportion of your bill, so does the waiter, and chambermaids sometimes leave unambiguous messages with an accompanying envelope, demanding cash. It is bad enough that people expect something extra for just doing their jobs; it is a more dismal thought that every smile has a price."

That's Paul Theroux in Dark Star Safari: overland from Cairo to Cape Town. He's on a cruise on the Nile, looking at ruins.

2 comments:

Chad Vogler said...

The other side of this, of course, is that the guy staying in the presidential suite invariably expects a great deal more attention than other people, though I'm convinced that all hotel guests demand extra labor from the staff in order to justify the huge bill that any decent hotel exacts. Maybe it's obvious I used to work at one - as front desk clerk, bellman, and shuttle driver, no less.

But I'm with you on restaurants, and especially at coffee cafes, and most especially at bars.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

The radical thing I'm asking is that the employer fulfill his responsibility for paying his workers a wage commensurate with the amount of work he wants them to do. It should be the employer who "tips" his staff for making him look good, for attracting & keeping well-paying customers. Bonuses?

For what person doing a good job doesn't deserve a little something extra? Profit exists because the worker is paid less than what the effort expended is actually worth. I'm realistic enough to know I'm expected to help the boss out by tipping (a select few of) his workers.

I'm not 100% in agreement with the Theroux passage quoted, but I thought it a good follow-up to my own post on the subject. "Look! Big famous writer guy on tipping!"