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Tuesday 26 March 2013

The trouble with tipping

There are several things you're supposed to be able to do when you're a grown-up. Tie your own shoelaces, for example. Or maybe rustle up a nice meal. These are things you are either taught by your parents, or can research via books or the internet, or maybe you even learn how to do them through trial and error. 

If there's one thing, however, designed to not make me feel like much of a grown-up, it's the thorny subject of tipping. Certain countries have pretty clear-cut rules about these things - in Finland, for example, tipping is pretty much unheard of, whereas if you visit the USA, you know instinctively that you are guaranteed to run out of dollar bills the minute you walk into the country. We've visited developing countries in the past, where tipping is also widespread - hotel porters, tour guides, drivers - they all get that little supplement to their wages. 

In the UK, however, it's less clear-cut. I tend to round up for taxi drivers. In restaurants, 10-15% seems to be the norm, depending on the service. 

However, am I supposed to tip my window cleaner? I'm guessing the answer is no, as I'm paying him cash anyway.

Do you still give tips to refuse collectors at Christmas? I remember my parents doing so, but to be honest, we now seem to have so many different groups collecting our detritus (recycling, household waste, plastics, green waste) that I'd quickly be flat broke. Plus, I wouldn't be able to identify most of them anyway.

How about the same for the milkman? Yes, we still have one, but I'm normally safely tucked up in bed when he arrives. I could leave a card on the doorstep, but to be honest we've had bottles of milk stolen from our doorstep before, so I'm not taking chances with cash.

Maybe you see your postman regularly? I know I certainly do...however, it never seems to be our regular chap in the run-up to Christmas, and I feel a bit aggrieved at giving a card to the holiday help.

My biggest area of uncertainty, however, is hairdressers and beauticians. Let's face it, a visit to the salon is expensive enough as it is, without adding on an extra couple of quid for the junior who washed your hair, plus the stylist, and - in some cases - maybe a colourist, or even someone who blow-dried it. That's a lot of tips! Do you tip all of them? If yes, the same, or differing amounts? 

Then there's the act of handing over the cash itself. Are you one of those nonchalant people, who will cheerily hand over the correct amount with a "here you go, my good man"? Or perhaps you're more like me and turn bright red and mumble something incoherent as you hand over either a paltry embarrassment of a sum, or a tip so ridiculously large that it represents practically a months' salary.

I'm already starting to think maybe I should cut my own hair next time...

Exchange Money by epsos.de on Flickr


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