Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Making sense of all this tipping

Have we gone a whole four months without discussing tipping? Here at Fried Rice Thoughts, it's been one of the more popular subjects of deliberation. Most everyone has an opinion on the matter; it's not something you can casually say you care nothing about.

Do you give 15 or 20 percent to your waiter? How much does the pizza delivery guy get? What if I pick up the pizza myself? What's acceptable for the skycap at the airport who handles your luggage? How much do you give to the person who cuts your hair? And c'mon, do I really have to leave a tip for the barista at the coffee shop?

And now, we're at that time of year when you have to decide who gets a holiday tip, which drives me nuts. My parents and I argued about this most every year. Do you slip some money to the paper boy? How about the mailman? Should you give an extra gift to your hairdresser?

So I was grateful for the public service the Washington Post provided in last Sunday's edition with a feature article on tipping. Joe Heim's piece tries its best to break everything down and cover most any situation you can think of. And hosted a chat with the author of The Itty Bitty Guide to Tipping, Stacie Krajchir. People came up with some interesting questions, and Krajchir had some opinions on gratuities which might surprise you.

Unfortunately for this blog, all this information might be the final word on the tipping debate. Or is it? No, I'm sure we'll be faced with something - a tip jar in the most inexplicable place, a service we haven't previously encountered, etc. - that could reopen the discussion. If so, bring it. I love talking about this stuff. It's provocative! It's hot button! And it's a hell of a lot more legitimate topic than the supposed "war on Christmas." (But please read Raging Red and Orotundity, who have written some great stuff on that very subject.)