Tipping point

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

I wasn’t certain if I was supposed to tip the guy or not.

“That’ll be six-fifty,” the vendor answered after I had inquired as to the availability of a beer at the Washington Nationals baseball game that I attended over the weekend.

It was fortuitous that he had walked by moments earlier hawking brews. I had been thinking about making a trip to the concession stand a little earlier, and decided against it – mainly because, well, I’m a lazy slob.

There. I said it.

I handed the guy ten dollars – still thinking about the issue of tips.

And then he handed me back my change.

Three dollars.

Notice how I didn’t report my change as three dollars and fifty cents.

“I guess this answers my question about whether or not he gets a tip,” I muttered to myself as he stalked away, steaming.

The guy, for the record, didn’t even give me a chance to up the offer – which I had been contemplating doing, until he stiffed me on the extra two bits, that is.

About an hour earlier, one of my traveling buddies took on the responsibility of tipping the usher who led us to our seats.

“Did you give that give a tenspot?” I asked Jimbo, who shrugged it off as no big deal.

OK, so the man had helped us find row six, seats five, six, seven and eight – and even taken out a towel and wiped off the seats before we sat down.

But … come on.

You tip somebody for that now?

I’m not too sure about this.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big tipper, in my own mind, anyway, when I go out to restaurants – using as my own standard the measure of 25 percent of the check as the gratuity of choice.

I always thought of myself as generous in doing that, I should say – though I learned on another recent trip to D.C. that I must be well behind the times.

“What … was the service not up to your liking?” a waiter huffed at me after I left him $9 on a $30 check.

That’s 30 percent, doing some quick math.

“Er …” I tried to spit out, to no avail.

“I can’t believe you’d leave this as a tip – unless you thought I did something horribly wrong,” the waiter scoffed, then floated away.

He had a point – and the more I thought about, the more I realized that he wasn’t the only person that I’d stiffed.

I didn’t leave anything for the person who seated me at the table, for instance.

Ditto for the cook back in the kitchen who prepared my meal.

Not to mention the cashier who rang up the ticket – and the person who changed the urinal cake in the men’s restroom.

Another sign of the times, I suppose.

Either way, it looks like I’m going to have to take on a second job – just so that I can afford all the tips that everybody has their hands out expecting to get.


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