(Oh, and before I forget, this week I was lucky enough to be on the Stacking Benjamins podcast, talking about our worst investing mistakes and more. Please click and listen to me blather. Now, back to the post.)
Besides expanding our waistlines and destroying the progress we've made on Tim Ferris' 4 Hour Body diet, all this eating out has involved a lot of chances to tip. Or not to tip that much, as various guides make recommendations to only tip when you get exemplary service, or to round up to the nearest round dollar amount, or maybe up to 10%.
Tipping's a tricky subject. On par with religion and politics, suggesting the proper way to tip is a short walk to a heated debate. You'll get the folks who proudly claim they never tip less than 20%, even for bad service. You'll get the former restaurant employee explaining the long term benefits of tipping even higher amounts. And there's the popular approach of varying the tip based on the level of service received.
But my favorite tipping strategy is from 3rd Rock from the Sun (starting at the 2:00 mark):
The best part of the scene is that it illustrates that tipping is just another arbitrary man-made convention. Sure, there are rules. But they're made up by schmucks like you and me. There's no "right" amount to tip: there is only what's popularly accepted. Tipping 10% is great in Budapest or Krakow, but it's insulting in New York or Phoenix. Tipping a hotel employee might be expected in the U.S., but I got a surprised look when we tipped the woman who brought up a snack to our hotel room.
Picking which social conventions we have to adhere to, and which can be bent or broken, is delicate work. It might be perfectly acceptable to jaywalk even though it's technically against the law. But it's almost never a good idea to french kiss a stranger's dog, even though it's perfectly legal.
Because someone's livelihood depends on certain assumptions about tipping, Mrs. Done by Forty and I comply with the generally accepted 15-20% range (the past two weeks notwithstanding).
But we've tried going against the stream with some other conventions, with bad results. One year we told all our relatives we were going to give to charity in their names instead of exchanging gifts. We gave months of notice, and we confirmed several times with everyone. But when all they got from us was a postcard of some poor African family who'd be enjoying chickens or ducks that Christmas, I could tell from their faces that they were disappointed.
It's not really their fault, either: Mrs. Done by Forty and I were messing with a sacred cow. Christmas is the closest thing we have to a shared tradition. And breaking years of tradition is neither easy or recommended.
As with tipping, and most of our other popular social conventions, it's better to play along and get along.
Alright, enough of that. Time to wrap it up and get back to vacation. More photos to come, but here are a few from the past week or so.
|Old Town Bratislava|
|Belgian Beer Festival in Budapest|
|Wawel Cathedral in Krakow|