Friday, January 07, 2011

Keep the Change by Steve Dublanica

Steve Dublanica wrote the highly successful book called "Waiter Rant", about the trials and tribulations he experienced in his life as a waiter. Originally, the stories were posted on his blog, which featured his restaurant under a made-up name, which eventually morphed into a book. Since much of his book revolved around the tips waiters do or do not get, people assumed that Dublanica was some sort of Guru of tipping and knew how much people should tip for every job and every profession under the sun.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. So to bolster his deficiencies in his knowledge, he set off on a trek across America, looking into the sorts of jobs and professions that people tip for to see how much is a usual tip and how much the people in that profession would like to be tipped. And in the course of his travels, he not only fills the gaps in his own knowledge, but comes to some very interesting conclusions about the origins of tipping and why some professions are tipped and others are not.

And that is because a profession where, traditionally, tips have never been given is very resistant to the introduction of tipping. Prostitution, for example, is something where men, even if their experience was something wonderful and beyond the norm, are not going to tip the woman who gave it to them. That's because, traditionally, it's not something you tip for. On the other hand, houses where men are sexually abused by women (S&M, Bondage and Domination and so on) usually do, because they are much newer and therefore are not seen as something you can get away with not tipping for. One thing I found most unusual here are "Marking fees". You can be into Sadism as much as you like, but if you pay for it in a house and want to leave marks, you have to pay a marking fee. The worse the damage you want to leave, the more you have to pay for it (presumably so that the girl can recover and make up for the lost time you are costing her).

Other professions that people don't tip for or tip too little for are things like shoeshines, drinks from bartenders and cab rides. And in Las Vegas, he goes to the strip club known as the Peppermint Hippo for a straight talk with strippers about what kinds of tips they accept, and why the club will ferry you to their door in a limo and consider it cheaper than having you take a cab there (because cab drivers must get kickbacks from the club for every guy they take there, whereas the house-owned limo is free to the club, saving them $30 for every patron).

And it's not just that tipping people makes you seem generous, tips can also make sure you are seen quicker by a mechanic or hair stylist, ensure the maid doesn't rat you out for smoking in a non-smoking room, changes your sheets every day, or that your mechanic or stylist doesn't do a half-assed job or your waiter or waitress doesn't "accidentally" dump a drink or tray of food on you, which can happen if you are a nasty enough piece of work and push your luck,

In the end, though, Dublanica realized that he didn't have to go around the world to discover what each profession wanted to be tipped. He came up with a simple formula that anybody could use at any time. Ask the person who is providing you with the service. Ask them what they want to be tipped. If you don't know and are unsure, ask. That way you can't go wrong.

But even before he gets to that gem of advice, Dublanica's book is sure to amuse, entertain and inform. With his interviews of a cross-section of people who perform various services to other people and society, you'll meet a wide variety of people in all professions and all sorts of work, and marvel at a pair of junkies who tipped a cabbie more than all the people with the big, important jobs who rode in his cab that night. Dublanica excels at showing the true faces of the people he is showcasing, and admits where he falls down in his own tipping behaviors, and resolves to do better.

Once again, a fascinating book from Steve Dublanica on a behavior we all do. We all tip, but many experience anxiety over just how much to tip and who deserves our tips from us, but by reading this book, we can all learn how the right way. Recommended highly.

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