Tips on Tipping, Cont'd...
Several weeks ago I posed a question about tipping the charming woman at my local donut shop. Do I save the 62-cents to put in my daughter’s piggy bank every day? Do I put it in the tip jar? I received a terrific variety of responses:
· Use it as a ‘learning moment’ to discuss with my daughter (she is the one who asks for the donuts, after all)
· Error on the side of tipping
· Don’t tip daily, but do put a $1 in the jar once a week
· Only tip when there is eye contact and the woman knows you’ve tipped
· Shut up and tip
So here is what happened. I put a $1 in the jar. The next day, the woman did not make eye contact and didn’t smile. She just got the donuts and seemed if not precisely angry, certainly just this side of unfriendly. I stopped thinking about the ‘to tip or not to tip’ question, because I now had a new, more pressing concern: The loss of the smile. Yet, the next day, her joy in the moment had returned. I realized something charmingly fresh: Her friendly demeanor was her tip for me. Not everything needs to be monetized. This was friendliness for its own sake. I stopped tipping and even better, stopped worrying about it; she continues to engage with a smile, a “the usual?,” a “have a great day” and, even better, a “see you tomorrow!”
It’s a wee friendship and it enlivens my mornings. For my part, I ask about her weekend on Mondays and wish her a grand time on Fridays. There’s something nourishing in the gentle interactions. Something important, I suspect, involving the nature of post-modern community. Something that evokes the ideal of retail enchantments in the midst of hectic Manhattan mornings. Something that vaults me from the mindless habitual into the world of resonate personal ritual.