Saturday, April 16, 2005

What, no tip?

I get my hair cut at a place that shampoos it first. I will not apologize for this. I ended up going there when I had to get my then long hair cut for a job interview, and the place I originally went to did little more than cut off my ponytail and send me on my way - a la Coming To America. As a result, I ended up looking like the Dutch Boy you see on cans of paint. Moreover, I felt as if I should don a jerkin and tights and run off to slay the dragon. Such was my embarrassment that the following day (thankfully, still before the interview) I walked into my current "haircutting place" on Newbury St. where my current um... "haircutter" Renee - a tough as nails woman from Revere with a brutal accent and a mouth like a truck driver - took one look at me, laughed, and said, "What the hell happened to you? Someone cut your hair with a Flo-Bee? C'mon honey, we'll fix ya up right."

This is
not the point of this post, however. In the few years I've been a patron of this fine establishment, they always shampoo my hair before cutting it. It's not something I specifically request or pay extra for - it's just part of the total haircutting package, if you will. This is almost always done by some assistant barber or junior stylist, or whatever they're called, who also have to perform other lowly duties like sweeping up all the fallen hair, running to get coffee, etc.. Normally I think nothing of this hair washing but for whatever reason, as I was getting the scalp massaged with mint smelling suds last week, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should be tipping this woman. Really? For a service that is largely unnecessary, considering I had already washed my own hair in the shower that same morning? Anxious to ease my mind I asked Renee on the sly if the shampooers normally get tipped, to which she responded, "Sometimes. My boss is so f****n' cheap he pays them next to nothing and makes us give them $1.00 for every one of our clients heads they shampoo. F****n' bastid."

This exchange made me wonder about this whole act of tipping, and when/why it became such an accepted part of our culture. Further, what are the rules? When should I tip? When shouldn't I? How much is enough? How much is too much? I've never been clear on this, and have sadly never sought out the correct answers. It was therefore quite a pleasant surprise this morning to stumble across not one, but
TWO articles related to the subject. The first is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and offers some semi-useful tips and talks about the practice of tipping in a general sense. The second is from The Straight Dope, a favorite column of mine, and it discusses the origins of the tipping practice as well as it's name (which, as it happens is not an acronym for 'to insure promptness.')

I'd be interested to read other peoples thoughts on the subject (click the comments link below) if only to correct my own bad tipping practices. What do I do as far as tipping now? My general rule is 20%. I give that to Renee after she cuts my hair, as I do most waitstaff at the end of a meal (unless they were bad, in which case they only get 15%. Rarely do I not tip at all - the service has to be utterly abysmal before that happens, and if that's the case I also make a resolution not to go back to that particular restaurant for fear of something unthinkable being placed in my food. Oh, and another word of warning... if you MUST bitch to the waitstaff or management right that very minute, at least wait until AFTER your food is served.) Cab drivers? I generally give them 10-15% because I like them less and they make me feel scared. Plus, they piss me off when I encounter them on the road while I'm driving my own car. I
WILL NOT place any money in those plastic tip cups you see on the counter in places like Dunkin' Donuts. If you're going to be brazen enough to ask for money by placing a plastic drinking cup with the word 'TIP' scrawled in magic marker on the counter, you're not getting any of my change. Besides, their wages, low as they are, are given under the assumption that their won't be any tips for services rendered.

As for the shampoo lady, I went to give her two bucks after all was said and done and I couldn't find her. I think she went out back for a cigarette or something. Will I tip her the next time? I don't know. Depends on whether or not I can afford it after everyone else takes their cut.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your right on with this one. One can only hope that your hairdresser from Revere does not catch on to "Murky Woods". You may be in for more than a hair cut next time.

By the way...there are plenty of places that don't wash hair prior to cutting. But who am I to talk, I am pretty much bald.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Yeah - I purposely didn't put the name of the place in the most for that reason. Although she doesn't exactly strike me as the type to go around reading blogs, you never know....

Charming display name, by the way. Can we just call you Eoawb for short?

5:25 PM  

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