Cha with that: I Not Tipping

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So imagine I’m on my honeymoon in Jamaica, in a white van, strongly resembling a white maxi, travelling a distance processed as walking distance to my Trini brain. But like the Jamaican driver confuse my Trini accent with a Miami one, because on top of charging me $10US return – per person – he looking for a tip. You could believe that one?

Is best he started looking for world peace, or an honest politician one time, because all he received in return was a poker face, and a thank you. Not even the peer pressure of all the ‘proper’ tourists in the bus forking over 50% and 100% of the fare’s value in tips could melt my resolve. I guess the job situation in the US wasn’t as bad as advertised.

It got me thinking though. When did we reach here? How did we get to the place where tipping was expected as a right from those in the service industry? The bus didn’t even have AC self.

How did we get to the place where tipping was expected as a right from those in the service industry?

It seems that these days a tip is expected, regardless of service quality. Researching the matter, I read that “failing to give an adequate tip when one is expected is a serious faux pas, and may be considered very miserly, a violation of etiquette”. Personally I say ‘cha’ with that. If I give a tip at all, it’s because the person soldiered beyond the call of duty to provide my happiness. Not to satisfy anyone’s misplaced idea of etiquette.

In my lifetime, I’ve probably tipped fewer times than days in the week, and each occasion remains securely tucked in memory. A woman who recommended food to me that tasted good, and who changed my drink, when she realized I didn’t enjoy it. A Ruby Tuesday’s waitress with an upbeat personality, who ensured we got a proper seat, and didn’t disappear like Mumford every time we were ready to order. A lady in Tobago who made us feel at home, even though we were Trini…though technically we were at home. And the list goes on, albeit not very long.

If those things don’t seem particularly memorable, well you should and would shudder at the average level of service. Still, service staff expect extra for performing what, essentially, is their job description. One even flat out asked me for the extra contribution, even though the food was terrible, and she took years to bring me my char siu pork, something that you can get in less than five minutes by any two by four Chinese outlet. Immune to social expectations as I can sometimes be, I told her no.

Is either the person doesn’t want to be there, so they ‘face swell’, and they’re nowhere to be found…

Amazingly, I don’t consider my quality quotient to be particularly high. At this point, if I go to a restaurant, and can get my food in less than ten minutes – with no attitude from the attendant (I personally don’t even need a smile) – then tip passing like ball from Iniesta. Good luck finding that in Trinidad though. Is either the person doesn’t want to be there, so they ‘face swell’, and they’re nowhere to be found, or they’re in your face incessantly, trolling for tips, so the smile is plastic, and they’re badgering you to buy things you don’t want…and suggesting expensive ‘ting’ they know doesn’t taste well.

Thankfully, in Trinidad, most attendants seem to realize that the service ‘cheesy’, so they don’t demand tips, a relationship I’ve grown accustomed to maintaining. They don’t perform well. I don’t complain. They don’t look for tips, and I eh giving.

Abroad is a different story, and when I say ‘abroad’, like most Trinis, I’m referring to America, more commonly known as ‘The States’. The service is generally what I consider average, albeit wayyy better than ‘average’ in Trinidad. They do what you would expect from a restaurant of that price range, but they stop just short of demanding a tip. If I have to pay so much for average service, I say give me a tray and let me organize my own stuff.

I mean, am I not already paying service charge? Oh you say you’re underpaid? How is that my fault? I was underpaid at my first job, yet none of the people who enjoyed the websites I built tipped me. I would really like to meet and congratulate the marketing genius who transferred the onus of ensuring that workers in the service industry are properly paid from their employers to the patrons.

Again…how is that my fault? ‘Cha’ with that. I not tipping.

When I look at my bill in any restaurant, I see the food/drinks cost and the service cost (and VAT in Trinidad), so a tip, in my mind, is not for basic, expected service. To get a tip from me, you have to provide some intangible je ne sais quois. And since that is increasingly rare these days, I guess I’ll be saving my money – not giving it away to suit someone else’s idea of etiquette or reward for poor service.

 

Image credit: au.pfinance.yahoo.com

David "Da Face" Hamilton

David Hamilton aka Da Face is a local hip hop artiste who moonlights as a blogger, when he's not trying to capture the hearts and ears of listeners with creative and positive music. He also maintains a blog called "Underground Trini Artiste", and often tries to represent and promote the lesser known artistes in Trinidad and Tobago.

8 Comments

  1. Camille Winchester

    July 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    hell no!!!!

  2. Christopher Chedd Kalloo

    July 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    another thing that frustrates me is when establishments have a 10% service charge especially when all I do is order some beers….you mean to tell me I have to pay extra to get my beer opened? look, just gimme the beer and I’ll open it myself cause I always have an opener on me

  3. Christopher Chedd Kalloo

    July 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    another thing that frustrates me is when establishments have a 10% service charge especially when all I do is order some beers….you mean to tell me I have to pay extra to get my beer opened? look, just gimme the beer and I’ll open it myself cause I always have an opener on me

  4. Omega Francis

    July 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I love this! I totally agree with you David. I don’t tip unless I think the person truly goes all out to deserve it.

  5. Sean Ashby

    August 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Very well said David, my friends watch me ahow when I’m confused as to why they’re tipping a poor waitress and my money staying in my pocket.

  6. Cate

    August 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I have had delivery people berate me for not tipping, after being an hour late with my food. I refuse to tip on principle. I had a friend tell me that service people expect tips because their base rate is significantly lower than minimum wage, and tips are how they make their money. I say, why are they content with a system that leaves them actively relying on the whims of strangers to make a basic living? I do not tip, and I do not care what people say if I don’t. It is not my job to supplement their income with money that I don’t have. I asked for a specific service and I paid for it. Contract complete.

  7. Pingback: Tipping etiquette in Trinidad : Who and Who not to tip!

  8. Donielle Jones

    September 10, 2014 at 11:38 am

    This could not have been written any better! Good job David!

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