Sunday, December 31, 2006

Take this tip from me

Where do you stand on tipping? I go through this confidence crisis whenever I go from the States, where it’s completely out of hand, to France, where I think it’s fairly orderly and sensible (except I hate paying to use public loos.) The UK is somewhere between the two, so you never know where you are. I think a tip is for a service above the normal call of duty and not for someone doing the job he’s paid for. Why should I pay the wages of restaurant staff, hotel flunkies, taxi-door openers and room cleaners? It seems demeaning for both tipper and tippee - no one ever gave me a tip.
I muse on this after a dinner in a pub in Newbury. Tipping-wise, pub eating presents special problems because they’re not restaurants and they’re not MacDonald’s. You do go up to the bar, you order and pay for your food, you collect your drinks and you take them to the table that you have selected. The only element of ‘service’ is when some youngster on the statutory minimum wage comes out and says, ‘Lamb chops?’ You say ‘Here’, and he or she plonks them down in front of you. It’s nice and casual, and infinitely better than some poncey restaurant. But tipworthy? In my book, only if he or she takes your wet coat and hangs it up, or finds you some freshly-made Sauce Bearnaise or puts your grandchild in a high chair.
But to Newbury: we called into a pub called The Swan on our way home from Tesco’s (that’s a possessive – short for Tesco’s supermarket). The manager, an Aussie, is clearly trying to ponce it up into a ‘restaurant’ – but it’s a pub. Usual procedure: belly up to bar, order and pay for wine and food, carry wine, glasses, condiments, napkins and cutlery to table, wait for food. And wait. Eventually girl delivers a plate of food and we eat. The food is quite good.
As we’re walking to the car, I realise I didn’t leave anything for the ‘waitress’. I ask spouse if she left anything. She says not. I was hesitating, wondering if I should go back and leave some token payment, when the pub door opens, a distinctly Aussie voice shouts – no, screams – ‘Fucking freaks!’, and the door slams shut.
Thus not only did this plonker ensure that we would never go near his pub again, but he prevented his girl from getting a tip – and he got himself blogged. Not bad for two words.

We had the last lunch of the year at Le Carpaccio on Villefranche port, sun glinting off the water - loup grillée fresh from the Med, service unfussy but impeccable – and included. How could you not leave a tip?

Happy old year folks and thanks for reading - and good blogging in 2007.


Wendy said...

I find myself tipping as a matter of course now - unless the service has been bad. Where I get irritated/confused is when the service charge is automatically added. I generally pay that, but don't tip on top of it. Then I worry in case the waiting staff never actually see it.
Happy new year, Ted!

ted said...

A A Gill says he always asks how the service charge reaches the staff - if at all. I think the stingier you are the more likely you are to overtip - so people won't know what a cheapskate you are. (I should know.)
Happy new year to you and yours
from us both. T & J

Ed R said...

I don't tip at fast food places like McDonalds. I do tip at a place where someone comes to your table and you order off a menu, usually. And I usually tip 20 percent.
UNLESS... not too long ago IO had dinner at a ranch house. Yes, a genuine ranch house. THe food was excellent, the service impeccable, the ambience very enjoyable. And the total bill included a 21 percent 'service charge'. So, no tip. I'd have tipped if the total bill was under $100 including the service charge but it wasn't. And this was for ONE person.

I felt trerrible because the waitress and I got on really well, but I asked her and she said the service charge gets doistributed to everyone. SO I SHOULD have tipped. But I didn't. The steak wasn't THAT good even if the service was!

Ed R said...

Oh, and Happy New Year Ted!

Cliff said...

I get irritated/confused when people call it Tesco's. It's not the supermarket of Tesco. I can not seem to move on from this.

Happy New Year, dad.