Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Who I'm tipping this holiday season

Because so much of the Christmas tradition involves parting with our hard-earned cash, I thought we set aside the smoking ban issue for a bit and instead discuss what obligations we have to provide gifts ($) to our favorite service providers as a sign of appreciation and good cheer.

Many publications publish helpful tips on tipping during the holiday season so that we can know who has something coming and how much we owe them. Higher class rags will have you gifting everyone from the doorman to the manicurist of the lady who cuts your personal trainer’s hair. Those magazines with a more bucolic sensibility will merely suggest that you leave a little something extra for your favorite waitress down at the diner, say, maybe 15 percent.

My wife and I tend to fall towards the bucolic. If you have served us in some way in the past year, please know that we hold you in the highest esteem, but the chances are good that we won’t be expressing our gratitude monetarily.* Unless, you are one of the following:

The garbage men are always due a gratuity. We pay to have two barrels-full disposed of each week and on those occasions when we go over by an extra bag or so, they can always be counted on to haul away the excess refuse. And even though they knew it was a dirty job when they signed on, I can’t help but feel we contribute excessively to the displeasing nature of their work. We’ve given them seven solid years of damp and soiled diapers to contend with so it’s only good form to acknowledge them on the holidays with something green and crispy.

Anyone carrying on the fine tradition of newspaper carrier deserves a tip as well. I’ve found that trying to eat breakfast without a newspaper to read is quite disorientating, almost to the point of being debilitating. I’m quite certain that if I didn’t have such a reliable carrier who never fails to deliver by the breakfast hour, that I would be wasting away late into the morning, rocking in my chair in a trance-like state while mumbling incoherently into my omelet. That has to be worth a double sawbuck, right?

Our recycling agent received a tip for the first time last year and appeared so grateful that it would be cruel to deny her this year. Her job doesn’t seem as onerous as garbage hauler, but things can get sticky and unpleasant when my wife fails to rinse out the wretchedness from her vile Miller High Life cans.**

Then, of course, there are the gifts to teachers and the babysitter, although they are already the richer, and wiser, for having the good fortune to spend time in the company of my progeny.*** Still, they must be shown our appreciation.

But that’s about it for us. We’ve never tipped the mail carrier; we hardly ever see him or her and so are of the mind that the mail just magically appears in the box six days a week. We don’t have any personal attendants or favorite maitre d's, and although several of my fellow bloggers have provided me a consistent source of entertainment and insight this past year and surely merit my benefaction, most blog anonymously so I don’t know where to send the cash-stuffed Christmas cards. Same goes for the regulars in the comments section. Alas.

And now it is your turn to confess or herald the extent of your largess to those who worked on your behalf this past year. Even though you already paid them at the time of service, did you recently hand over a little something extra in the spirit of the season?

*This somewhat stingy attitude doesn’t apply to charitable giving. I’ve yet to turn down an opportunity this year to add an extra dollar to my grocery bill to benefit the less fortunate.

**If you read the Christmas message I posted here last year, you’ll recall that I wrote about how my wife had just recently kicked the latest in a series of drug addictions. Just to be clear, that was satire. And while she does enjoy an occasional beer, drinking straight from the can most times, I don’t want to imply that our recycling bin is overflowing each week with her empty beer cans. There are, however, always a lot of empty Sudafed boxes in there. She doesn’t have allergies so I’m not sure what she does with it all.

***You might be tempted to read this as satire, but I truly believe it to be true.


Anonymous said...

I never really thought about it before, but you make a good case for tipping the refuse agents.

We're always trying to sneak extra-large items into the trash, and I never think the wonderful people who work for Lake Area Disposal will take them, but they always do.

And I'm sure the recycling lady doesn't appreciate an 80-pound dog running out to greet her every couple of weeks.

The paper carrier is another story. I have no idea who delivers the paper to my house, plus I sort of deliver it to myself the night before anyway.

And though I blog more or less anonymously, you have my e-mail address. You can PayPal your tip to me there.

Marie said...

Dan, my office just moved a couple months ago to a mail route I used to be on when I worked in another office years ago. Much to my surprise, our carrier remembered me from before.

Aside from her mail carrying and delivery skills (and she is highly skilled, never mis-delivering), she is sort of a walking, living, breathing live blogger (for lack of a better word) re what's going on with the other secretaries up and down the street. Not that I really need to know these things, come to think of it. But I'm sure the info will prove invaluable someday. Even if she has nothing to say, she always brightens my day.

I don't know if my boss plans on tipping her, but I will be giving her a little something, myself.

Now, about those garbage collectors. I'm curious just how you do that. My guys can be there anytime from 6:00 a.m. to sometime after I leave for work. Do you get up at 6:00 a.m. to lay in wait for them behind the garage? Do you station one of the kids at the backdoor to alert you to their arrival? Do you tape an envelope to the garbage can the night before? Inside the lid? How do you conduct your garbage man tipping operations?

Anonymous said...

As a resident of a NYC highrise, I tip the doormen and maintenance staff. The building organizes a tip collection, actually, and suggests a specific amount to give. Also tip the newspaper carrier and my hair guy, who I see every year at this time and who's a good friend as well. I'm sure if I eat in a restaurant in the next few weeks, I'll tip a bit more, provided the service is good. Other than that, since I live on a grad student budget right now, I wish someone would tip ME ;->

Manny Fernandez said...

Tip? Give me a break. Call it what it really is....a bribe.

I bribe my garbage men so that they will take more than two cans and one loose item in a given week. It is obvious when it is getting close to Christmas because they would take a rusted car if I put it out there. Gee, why do you think that is?

Conversely, if you forget to tip them in a given year and try to put anything more than two cans out, forget it.

Tip? Please.

Anonymous said...

Manny, tell Marian Gaborik to get better. His sitting on injured reserve isn't helping my fantasy team.

He's the Mark Prior of hockey: supremely talented, always hurt.

nancy said...

I'm a notorious over-tipper all year round. My years spent cocktail waitressing and bartending in a downtown Chicago hotel really made an impression on me. Actually, cheap businessmen on all-inclusive expense accounts really made an impression on me.

Among those who will be remembered this holiday season:

Garbage hauler: similar to Dan's situation, our guy (do I sound like Tony Libri there?) has dealt with a specified "diaper can" for the last ten years. Summers are particularly brutal which is why my early rising second son will deliver popsicles to John (we're on a first name basis) in the hotter months.

Recycler: ditto the garbage hauler, although sometimes they hit our house before the sun's up and miss out on popsicles.

Hair stylist: closest appt to Christmas (so long as the highlight isn't brassy)nets her a little extra on the tip

Teachers: of course, although this year that numbers 13 with all the aids and my oldest son has four teachers on a daily basis. Not cash for the teachers, though God knows they are underpaid. Usually I bake and throw a gift card in with the cookies.If my kids were struggling for grades, I wouldn't be above a cash payout, though.

Then upwards of 60 people are chosen to receive the photo Christmas card of my brood.

Dan, if you're not going to tip your usual responders, why don't you at least host some sort of post-holiday meet and greet? I saw that Rich Miller had something at Two Brothers....or is that just a Number One Blogger kind of thing to do?

I kid. I'm a kidder.

Anonymous said...

We too tip the newspaper carriers and garbage disposal guys but not mail carriers because I've always felt that the mail carriers are basically government employees and should not be tipped. The person that cuts my hair owns her own shop and will not take gifts and tips. Now when our kids were in diapers, we always used cloth diapers. But let me tell you, disposable diapers cannot be nearly as bad as what comes out of the stinking cat litter boxes. I take care of my kid's cats when kids are on vacation and, in my opinion, it is a DIRTY JOB and I have to cover my nose. And I do clean boxes out twice a day so it is not neglect. Give me dogs any old time and, yes, I do clean up after my dogs.

Dave H said...

Dan, I tipped the Allied Waste guy last night with a case of Bud Light. I went out this morning and the guy had left it next to the container. I now have offended the garbage man. What do I do? Isn't it usually safe to assume that a man's man likes beer or the very least he could have given it to his buddies down at waste central? Its the thought that counts right or is it just a bribe like Manny says

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Ab Pro,

PayPal. I forgot about PayPal. It's too late now, but I did make a donation in your name to the Human Fund.


I'm usually up and about before five; my problem is that we don't get trash pickup until after I leave for work at 7:30. Fortunately my wife was able to catch them this year. I'm leery of leaving cash filled envelopes taped to the cans.


I'm sure your sacrifice will pay off in the future. Don't give up on the degree.


Why so cynical?


A BFS party would be fun, or at least interesting. I'd like to see Monkey Boy and Mick Shrimpton in the same room.


The fact that you changed your kids' diapers, cloth ones no less, should excuse you from ever having to clean their cat's litter box. Do they at least tip you?

Dave H.,

Yours is an interesting case. Are you sure he knew it was a gift to him (was their a bow or a card) and not left out by mistake?

If he did know, maybe Allied has a policy against accepting gifts, especially alcohol. Perhaps he is a recovering alcoholic, in which case you're one cruel bastard. Or maybe he is morally opposed to intoxicants. If I were you I'd leave a little something from Penny Lane out for him and see if he takes it.

Thanks for commenting,

Dave H said...

Who the hell would leave a case of beer out by the curb by accident?

Steve Towle said...

Tipping in general is ridiculous. It is a silly little game in which both sides are often disappointed.

I tip very generously when I go to eat, usually 20%. And I usually give at least 15% no matter how good the service is. But I never feel right doing it. Why doesn't the owner just raise the prices and eliminate the guesswork for both the customer and the employees?

I know, I know, tipping is a way you can tip according to the type of service you get. Whatever. How about you simply not go back to the restaurant if you have poor service? Lord knows Springfield is not short of places for people to spend their hard earned State coffer proceeds at.

I say eliminate the tipping, that way the customer doesn't feel "pressured" to reward someone for smiling, writing down your order, and keeping your water glass filled. It also will eliminate the chances that the waiter/waitress will get stiffed by the cheap-asses in the world.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Dave H.

Who the hell would leave a case of beer out by the curb by accident?

Someone who just finished the first case of beer?


You make reasonable points, but my fear is that if you eliminate tipping, your doomed to the type of service you get at McDonald’s. That wouldn’t make for an enjoyable dining experience.

I’ve mentioned here before an idea I had that would retain the incentive that tipping provides the wait staff, while switching the monetary burden to the restaurant owners. The owners would still pay their staff at a rate below minimum wage. At the end of the meal, in lieu of figuring out the tip, the customer would be asked to fill-out a brief survey. The individual staff members would then receive additional compensation from the owner based on their rating from each customer. I think most people would be fair in their ratings, since it isn’t their money on the line. And of course you’d still be free to leave a tip of your own if the service is superb.

Thanks for commenting,

Steve Towle said...


Under your plan the owner would have to raise prices in order to cover what the servers would have made in tips, correct?

The survey is not a bad idea if it is not cumbersome. But I sure would not do a survey and still tip, that defeats the purpose.

Anonymous said...

Newspaper Carrier is a single mother, tip for her, gift for the baby,

Minister, Music Specialists at Church, Office Cleaning Service folks, Barber, Primary Care Physician's scheduler, Fellow Officers in a Charitable Organization, gifts as opposed to tip.

But here's another way to look at it.

I have a client who is very high maintenance but she is wily. She makes impossible demands on our office all year long, then frequently makes her situations worse by not following instructions. The interesting thing about her is she KNOWS she a disaster client and tries my patience. She knows the way to my heart is to do something nice for my bride. She gives my wife wonderful, personal gifts, the kind that require thought and effort. She pretty well knows that'll keep me from firing her for another year. That's nice for my wife and pretty effective gifting.

Anonymous said...

42 years ago, I was a Lake Area Customer and they were fabulous then, too! God Bless the private sector.

manny fernandez said...

By the way, my bribery worked.

After Christmas they took everything I had to offer.

Too bad that money is funneled to Tony Soprano in order for them to keep the route.

Leland Milton Goldblatt, Ph.D. said...

Years ago there was an evening paper and we knew our paperboy. The wives did not work they knew the garbage men and all the delivery service people. The world has changed. What is mail mans name? The same with the paperboy and refuse people


--- Prof. Leland Milton Goldblatt, Ph.D. ®


We are weaker because of the Iraq war! (The war based on lies.)

After all Jesus hates George Bush and is Pro-Choice. WWJD