Home Opinion & Features Time to tip tipping into the dirtbin

Time to tip tipping into the dirtbin

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I’ve often wondered who decides when to leave a tip and when not to tip.

I’ve often wondered who decides when to leave a tip and when not to tip.

Traditionally we leave a tip for the waiter at the end of a meal, and add a few rand to our petrol bill for the petrol attendant, but we don’t tip the pharmacist who prepares our prescription, or the butcher who cuts our chops to the right size for us.

Could this be because we recognise the pharmacist and butcher as skilled experts, but regard petrol attendants and waiters as unskilled workers who are routinely underpaid?

Isn’t that a bit of an insult? I once heard that the word “tip” indicated that the extra money was “to improve performance”.

I have no idea whether this is true, but again, it does seem a bit insulting.

It assumes the waiter gives poor performance unless he is paid extra.

If this is the case, why is he employed?

There are plenty of unemployed people out there willing to work hard for a weekly wage.

I’m told that in Japanese restaurants the waiters do not accept tips. It’s assumed that they will always give 100% service and the manager will reward them sufficiently.

Why do we assume that our waiters and petrol attendants are not paid enough for what they do? Are we saying restaurant managers and garage owners are too mean to pay their staff fair wages?

The business of tipping so-called “car guards” is another rather odd tradition.

You usually see no sign of the person until you are reversing out of your parking space, when there’s suddenly somebody hovering beside your driver’s window, grinning ingratiatingly and holding out a hand for money.

It’s a different matter if the car guard has helped you to carry your groceries to your car and loaded them into your vehicle, but that doesn’t happen often.

He usually waits for you to do the heavy lifting, then appears from nowhere, like the genie from the lamp.

We go through our days handing out a coin here and a coin there for no apparent reason.

One could say it’s guilt money to make up for all those evil apartheid years, but it’s not a purely South African habit.

Americans, British and French people are just as quick to pass a buck (or five) to every waving palm. They don’t have apartheid as a general excuse for everything, like we do.

I know it’s the accepted custom and I’ll go along with it, scattering largesse like a millionaire.

But I still have the uncomfortable feeling the tipping habit turns people into beggars.

Last Laugh

A newly-married couple decided their marriage was not working and went to court to apply for a divorce.

“After such a short time together,” said the judge, “what made you want to end your marriage?”

“Your honour,” said the husband, “in the seven weeks we have been married we haven’t managed to agree on one single thing.”

“It’s not seven weeks, your honour,” said the bride. “It’s been more than eight weeks.”