Tonight when I got home from work, all soggy from the rain, I noticed someone slipped a holiday card under my door. Was it a secret admirer? No. A friendly neighbor? Nah. It was from my building. On the surface, a nice gesture, but when I opened it and saw that it listed a cast of thousands (ok, 15), I quickly realized this was a handy checklist for tipping.
Well, fa la la la la.
I guess a little holiday green can spread cheer for a year. But figuring out how much to give is harder than figuring out what’s in your fruitcake.
Even though I haven’t lived in an apartment building for a while, I’ve always parked in garages here in the city, which means I’ve always struggled with what to offer at the holidays. Each year, I briefly entertained the thought of driving in one crisp December morning with a car full of home-baked goodies, immediately followed by visions of sugarplums being ground into my carpet.
Cash, it turns out, tastes better than cookies.
I really wish someone would just come up with universal tipping rules, like we have at restaurants! There, I know the minimum is 15%, and I usually give 20%. I could say it’s because I know the waitstaff works hard (and they do), and they’re underpaid (and they are), but really it’s because it’s FAR easier for me to move the decimal point one place and double it than it is to calculate any other percentage in my head.
Once you step outside the restaurant world, I feel like tipping is the Wild West. So that brings me back to that tipping checklist… er, I mean, Very Thoughtful Holiday Card. There really are 15 guys listed, and I know they ALL make my life easier in some way. But I don’t want to over-give because I can’t afford to dole out the ducats to everybody with a hand. And I don’t want to under-give either -- I’m no Scrooge!
I do tip as I go throughout the year -- $5 here, $10 there -- but I feel this need (guilt?) to do something extra for the holidays, even in a recession. Especially for the doormen. In my experience, doormen are like elephants, they never forget. And I sort of prefer that mine (all 4 of them) actually open the door for me instead of slamming it in my face. The front desk guys are pretty good too. They’ve yet to let any axe murderers upstairs, and I’d really like to keep it that way.
So WWSD (What Would Santa Do)?
I’ll take your tips on tipping below…