Saturday, 7 May 2016

Tipping Point

"Five pounds," said my mother, pressing a note into my eight-year-old hand. "The haircut is four pounds fifty, so you'll get 50p back. You give the 50p to the hairdresser as a tip, because she doesn't get paid very much, and may have to live off her tips."

Thus I learnt about tipping. Ten per cent, because I'm English, but always. Hairdressers, wait staff, cabbies.

Twice during recent times have stories of leaving a written substitute for a monetary tip popped up in my media stream.

The first was Pastor Alois Bell protesting that God gets 10%, where the server was supposed to get 18%. It should be obvious to anybody that God's needs for money are pretty limited, what with being omnipotent and also an Eternal Spirit and all. I seem to remember Christ advising "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and perhaps the Pastor could have reflected on this, and maybe cut God's gratuity.

The more recent incident involves Ntokozo Qwabe - one of the voices of Rhodes Must Fall - gloating over his friend refusing to tip on the grounds that the white waitress had stolen black people's land. (There did not appear to be any evidence for this.) He posted an account of the incident on Facebook. As usual, I find the Spectator's conclusion - that Oxford should kick him out - hilarious; it'll be astonishing to see the day any University puts virtue above revenue or column inches; but it does seem a particularly misogynistic and classist piece of meanness to aim at a woman whose only known offence was to bring your coffee and your bill, and to try and pass off your own cheap and petty spite - because this was not a bold attempt at righting a wrong, or making a principled stand - as a grand acte politique cheapens you and your politics to the point of bathos.

Also interesting is that he identifies the friend as a "radical non-binary trans activist". Since the waitress appears to have been identified as cis-female, this activist missed an excellent opportunity to write a side-note about tipping her when she stopped oppressing said RNBTA with her gender fixity. It would have been every bit as relevant, after all.

However, in the end, I merely thought I would set out some things I think about tipping:
1. If you have enough money to tip, you should do it.

2. If you have enough money to tip, and don't, I hope you are actively involved in living wage campaigning, for the sake of your soul. Remember, oppression of the poor is a sin crying to heaven for vengeance, and you may get stuck next to David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt in hell FOR ETERNITY. Hey, it's your risk.

3. If you can't afford to tip, just don't tip. Maybe when you are older, wiser, and a better person richer, you will start to tip. We will wait for you.

4. However, attacking your waitress because you are a cheap and chippy type of person is bad form (see notes on oppression of the poor above.) Using God, or accusations of racism, or transphobia or anything else, exactly like speaking down to them, is exploiting the vulnerability of their working life, exhibiting your own vindictive spiteful nature and makes you a bully.

5. Also - gloating? Like Wesley Wyndham Price, what you are mainly showing is the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone.