When it comes to tip, my husband and I are easily in disagreement. In China, we only thought of bargain and never have been bothered with this idea. When traveling in Europe, we were asked to pay a certain sum to the local guide. Since it’s an obligation due to the local manners, we accepted without any complaint. In restaurant, the bill would come with a notice on it, informing us that the tip was already counted into the total price. When we went to the theater, we followed others to give the seat-guide one coin.
In U.S, many situations confused and even embarrassed us. We spent our first days in a well-known global hotel. To our big surprise, after three days, the room was not cleaned up in time. “How could it be?” My husband insisted that it was our own problems, such as too many toys on floor…It was later that one of my friend reminded me of the tipping question. “Maybe we didn’t tip the room service!” concluded my husband, “that was a lesson.”
Since then, we became more aware of such subtle question and learned how to tip in restaurant. Yet, the question affects our meals. If the waiter is especially solicitous, we tend to wonder how much should we pay as tip,15% or 20%. “Hard working always deserves more,”we all agree. Even we prefer not to be interrupted by the waiter, we should show a friendly smile back from time to time. When the food is not good and the service is banal, we still tip the “called minimum 15%”. As my husband says, “Avoid mistakes!” Until now, I was a little nervous when picking up a take-away pizza without writing the tip sum.
The question became inevitable and controversial when we were traveling this summer. In our fist hotel’s shuttle bus, I noticed a band saying that “Gratuity is not necessary but appreciated”. My French tricked me, because in French, “gratuit” means “free”. We understood quickly that it refers to tip. For our 4 rides on the shuttle bus, we paid the first go and back. After noticing that others didn’t pay, we followed naturally but still felt embarrassed when passing by the driver.
The first day, we left one dollar in the room for the cleaning service. The next day morning, when I was busy preparing to check out, my husband was seeking all pockets and purses for a coin. “No need! we are leaving!” I was direct. “Be polite! We stayed two nights and only paid one time!” he refuted.”What? but it’s a new day and the cleaning is beneficial for the next guest!” I continued my reasoning, which got an other unfriendly comment,”You are so mean!”
The same kind of quarrel occurred when we checked in a hotel which has a valet-parking. It was in a crowded tourist area, near the beach and the commercial center. The hotel was expensive and we never expected to pay an even unacceptable fee for the parking-30 dollars per day. It was our first time to encounter the valet-parking, which made us bewildered. We quickly searched the internet for a proper decision, and only got vagus answers: “Tips are very personal,””It’s nice but not necessary,””There is no rule”… For me, the parking fee was already huge, while for my husband, tip or not tip doesn’t need other arguments than the custom. “Why did you pick such a hotel!” finally, we threw our anger to some other further issues.”You know what is called racism? Don’t give up your deserved respect,” my husband went serious.
We were ravenous after the check-in and quickly found a restaurant near the beach. It turned out that the bill nearly passed 100 dollars. “What? that means another 15 dollars for tip?”I grumbled, especially because I was not satisfied with my fish, ” besides,we waited too long!” My husband didn’t want to talk any more and wrote down his signature. To save our holiday, I kept the silence.
I’m not mean and it’s not a question of thrifty. But is it a question of culture?