• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

    • October 1, 2014 in Columnists

    Here’s a tip — don’t be such a cheapskate

    Tipping has always been a touchy subject for many people. The old joke used to be “Want a tip? Buy low, sell high!”

    The controversy has long been fueled by jealousy, pettiness and meanness.


    Recently, we’ve heard of anecdotal instances where the self-righteous have left Biblical messages “tips” for “obviously” gay waiters and waitresses.

    Jesus would be so proud.

    My personal pet peeve is Safeway/Starbucks. If the employees are unionized, there’s no tip jar at the cash register. If there is no union, the tip jar is sitting there prominently.

    Huh? Really?

    Marriot Hotels has caused a ripple in the force by putting tip envelopes in their rooms to ”suggest” that their housekeeping staff be tipped. Their spokesman suggests a formula of $1-5 per night. The NPR reporter on this story stated that the average wage in the industry is $9.20 per hour.

    Some people are applauding Marriot, others are not. Those against it say that Marriot should be paying more to their employees if they’re really concerned about them. Look, $1-5 per night seems eminently reasonable. Were you easy or hard on the room? Did you order lots of room service? Hit the snack or dink bar hard?

    In my struggles to get sober, I unintentionally hit a room hard. My breathing machine wasn’t working right, and I trashed all the pillows. As I’ve gotten older, the skin on my arms has thinned; I was bleeding and didn’t know it. And, I had the shakes so bad, I routinely spilled the red wine I was drinking to keep me safe “over the counter” until I could get into detox. Of course, the white bath towels were the only things available.

    When my wife settled up with them, it came to less than I had decided was appropriate, so they are now on my amends list.

    I have always taken good care of my waters and waitresses, and they have taken good care of me. On the rare occasion that I need a last-minute reservation, I usually get it, and they also take notice when we just drop in.

    The baseline tip formula has long been 15 percent, but it’s not that simple. Consideration of the time spent is also important. If I go to a local establishment to watch a two to three hour hockey game and only drink Diet Coke, I’ll leave a $20 tip for a $3 bar bill. I occupied their revenue space longer than it would have been occupied by somebody having a full meal, with appetizers and dessert!

    But, that’s just me…

    Sadly, many others quibble over tipping a housekeeper less per night than we pay for a Frappuccino Grande at Starbuck’s.

    If we put all of President Obama’s trips under a microscope, then the last guy spent at least 25 percent of his presidency in Texas. And we nickel and dime welfare recipients, the unemployed, and poor children’s meal programs to death, while providing billions in corporate welfare, spending billions in Japan and Germany for our military presence there, and sending billions abroad in foreign aid — $5 billion to Egypt and Israel alone.

    Shop locally… buy locally… spend locally… and tip locally.

      • David Lacy

      • October 1, 2014 at 6:09 pm
      • Reply

      KEEP WRITING, Tom!

      • Jesse Loren

      • October 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm
      • Reply

      Tom, I perceive that I have to overtip in order to make up for the assumption that women don’t tip well. I generally tip 20 percent. I tip more if I am hogging a table to write and haven’t purchased much. I totally agree with you on the way you roll! Especially times when I take baby Franky to a restaurant and he throws rice all over. I think a 20 is certainly appropriate for that server. Jesse

    • I tip 20% and I leave money for the housekeeping staff at all hotels and I have my do not disturb on my door always. If I need something more like shampoo etc or towels, I just take them off the service cart when it is in the hall. I like to leave everything out on a vacation because I don’t at home. I hope you find peace in rehab and return home as soon as you feel ready.

      • Maya North

      • October 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm
      • Reply

      The most legendary tip my daughter, her college friend and I ever left was to a woman in Missouri, a gorgeous, tiny pigeon of a woman who routinely had all the unwanted children in the neighborhood pretty much living with her. We left $132 and snuck out — two college students and a woman who was hardly rich. It was totally worth it. I tipped a single mother-to-be $50. Most of the time I tip well, but occasionally, if I can at all manage it, I give a tip that takes their breath away, just because — because I’ve been really, really poor while working for the privilege (I had to take Thursday afternoons off to go to the food bank).

    • I think good service should be tipped, but bad service should not. I don’t feel that I owe anyone a tip. Most of the time, fortunately, the service is just fine. But when it isn’t… not leaving a tip gets the point across. My easy, cheesy formula for tipping… CA sales tax times two – comes out to a little over 15 percent.

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