DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please help me to clear up my confusion about tipping. Some of the people on the lists I read each December include hairdresser, paper carrier, doorman and day-care provider. One name that I do not notice on these lists is teacher.
Classroom teachers provide regular service to their customers, go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure their customers have everything they need, spend their own money for necessary items for their customers and work on their own time to make sure all of their needs are met. Please explain why a day-care provider, who also does many of the same things as a classroom teacher, should receive a monetary holiday bonus from the parents of her students, but the classroom teacher should not be given one.
Each day I go to my job just as my hairdresser and paper carrier go to their jobs. However, I am expected to pay as well as tip my hairdresser at each visit and then reward her further with a Christmas bonus just because she did her job well. Even though my paper carrier drives a car to deliver his papers and leaves my paper at the street instead of on my front porch, I am also expected to give him a Christmas bonus just for doing his job. If he went out of his way to place my paper on my front porch, then I would gladly give him a bonus.
The parents of my students do not tip me for doing my job, so why should I be expected to tip the hairdresser and paper carrier for doing their jobs? I pay them for their services just as the state pays me for mine. If they received a small hourly wage and worked mainly for tips that would be different. However, both are well paid, and my hairdresser actually makes more money than I do.
It is my opinion that tipping has gotten out of hand. We are expected to tip certain service providers, but not to tip others. Either we should tip everyone who serves us, such as the bank teller, the grocery clerk, the gas station attendant and the attentive store clerk, or we shouldn't tip anyone except the restaurant servers who depend on tips to bring their earnings up to minimum wage. Please help me to clear up my confusion.
GENTLE READER: You get no argument from Miss Manners when you say that tipping is confusing and has gotten out of hand. She has been railing against it for years as a vile system that brings out the worst in both giver and receiver.
But when you try to make sense of it at this point, based on an evaluation of various jobs, you make things worse. The system, such as it is, has grown from habit, not logic. What rationale there originally was for tipping -- that certain professionals are far too dignified to accept these individual handouts -- is baffling to the very people (such as teachers, like yourself) whose dignity is acknowledged even when their worth is not recognized with sufficient pay.
Unless we are able to abolish the entire system, tips are part of the expected compensation for certain jobs and not for others. So Miss Manners is afraid that you simply have to learn the list instead of analyze it.