This Is Terrible, But: The Pain of Tipping People Richer Than Me

Should I really feel differently about tipping people who have more money than I do? Does that make me a terrible person?

Tipping Housekeeping is Controversial? (No It Isn’t)

The Marriott hotel chain has begun to include empty envelopes in its rooms to encourage / remind guests to tip the workers who have been folding their towels, making their beds, emptying their trash, leaving mints on their pillows, and generally making everything look like it was arranged by magic elves.

Tipping housekeeping in the US is expected and oh hey more complicated than I realized: etiquette requires “$2-3 per night up to $5, more in high-end hotels. Also more if there are more than 3 people in a room or suite. Leave the tip on your pillow or in a similar obvious place with a note that says thank you. Leave the tip each day when you leave the room, rather than at the end of your stay, because your room might get cleaned by different people each day, depending on staff schedules. If you have additional items delivered to your room, such as extra pillows, hangers, luggage racks, tip the person who brings them $2 or $3.” Okay!

But now that Marriott has provided a convenient way to tip that also makes the practice increasingly explicit, some folks are like, what, you’re gonna guilt me into tipping? Others have even used the word blackmail because times are so hard folks can’t afford dictionaries. NPR explains:

not everyone is welcoming the plan to promote tipping. Some compare it to blackmail. And hard-core business travelers who rack up hundreds of nights in hotels per year say they don’t want to tip in cash, as is customary. Instead, they suggest, the company should let guests add a tip to their room bill. If Marriott wants to see the wide range of responses, it won’t have to look far — people in its rewards program have been debating the issue for the past day. … This is a bit over the top for Marriott to be doing this to us, almost like black mailing us into it. If they are so concerned they should pay these hard working people a better wage! Letting Maria Shriver have this much influence over them is a bit disturbing. – pdyer

What does Maria Shriver have to do with anything? Never mind, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS, sorry. Anyway, think of Jenny when you travel, or that first diner scene in Reservoir Dogs (nobody wants to be Mr. Pink), and tip generously. If you don’t want to tip, don’t travel, or stay in an AirBnB, where I think you can get away without paying a gratuity. At least for now.

The One With the Big Tip

Why don't we start this morning with a WWYD, but have you readers help me this time?

Today, in Treating Our Workers Badly

Workers who subsist on tips have to deal with an unacceptable level of sexual harassment in order to get those pennies. This is the kind of thing we don’t need a study to tell us but hey, here’s a study anyway! Also, some intriguing facts about the part uniforms play:

servers appear to report significantly more harassment (and a greater willingness to tolerate sexual harassment) in the 43 states using a tipped sub-minimum wage than in the seven states that don’t have one. While employees are (slightly) more likely to experience harassment from co-workers than from customers, in those instances, they also reported feeling more like they were able to tell the offending party to stop. This confirms what we’ve heard from overwhelming anecdotal evidence for quite a while: servers are far more likely to tolerate intolerable behavior if their ability to pay the rent is on the line.

The study also goes into the way uniforms contribute to sexual harassment. Thirty percent of workers reported that male and female employees are required to wear different uniforms. The study’s findings seem to indicate* that workers were twice as likely to report suffering sexual harassment if the uniforms were different than if they were the same. Women in states with a tipped minimum wage also reported that they were three times more likely to be told to “dress sexy” by management in order to get better tips.

Not angry enough? Read this: Wal-Mart has decided to cut benefits for PT workers, even though the Wal-Mart empire has produced so much money that individual Waltons take up four spots on the list of Top 10 Richest People in America. Christy Walton is the 6th richest American with a fortune of $38 billion, Jim is 7th with a fortune of $36 billion, Alice is 9th with $34.9B, and S. Robert is 10th with $34.8. Come on guys. You’ll never make it onto our list of Our Favorite Rich People, or into heaven, if you don’t get it together.

Help, a Direct Mailing For a Cleaning Service Actually Worked On Me And I’m Worried It Will Ruin My Relationship

I am using the Billfold to tell you that I paid $29 to have someone come clean our apartment in a few weeks, the day before my mom is coming to visit.

Tipping by State

Quartz looked at tens of millions of food transactions using data by Square, a mobile payments company, to see the tipping habits of diners of each state in the U.S. Of course, not every dining establishment accepts Square, but the coffee shop and food truck data is particularly interesting:

My Summer As a Housekeeper

The summer I was 18, I worked at an amusement park hotel as a housekeeper. The system worked something like this: every morning, we picked up our clipboards from the front desk with our list of rooms for the day, color-coded by what kind of service they needed. Pink was for occupied rooms that just needed a little spiffing, or “makes,” and green for just-vacated rooms that had to be cleaned for guests the following day, or “turnovers”.

How We Tip Cabbies

NYC cab fare data for 2013 is now publicly available. That means 100 million cab rides, 55% of which were paid for with a credit card. COMMENCE TIP CREEPIN'.

Tipping and Smiley Faces

This week, The New Republic's Alice Robb reports that research into tipping culture has shown that customers have a tendency to give bigger tips not because of good service but because of things like: the waitress is a woman who drew a smiley face on your check, or the even more biased: the waitress had blond hair.