Every once in a while, one of our neighbors throws a big shindig complete with a practice I'm still unsure about its function in society: valet parking. I can't seem to talk about valet parking without mentioning my questioning of tipping, so let's kill two birds with one stone.
There have been a couple of times where I thought valet parking was great. Be it a play or some bar where parking was limited, I didn't want to hunt for hours looking for a spot. Both times it was convenient and pretty inexpensive, but something didn't seem right. Seeing the amount of cash I could've spent on a meal at one of my favorite places was going to a guy that simply parked my car. Then I started thinking some more: I'm driving my car to and from the place, but parking myself is out of the question. Um, what?
What's even more puzzling is the last time I had to go through valet parking. There were no alternatives: it was either pay $7 or hunt for an open parking meter. So, I just played along and let my guard down. The sign at the valet's station said the tip was a part of the total price. That eased up some of my uppity feelings, but maybe that explains why it took nearly thirty minutes until I got my car back. When I got back into my car, I didn't give an extra tip for several reasons. I don't think I was in the wrong in this instance.
When it comes to tipping, that's where I'm almost completely in the dark. I remember how my parents tipped and that's what I've done. But it never ceases to amaze me about the unwritten laws of tipping. (Notice I didn't say "rules" -- they are laws.) I especially notice whenever I go to bars.
Other than happy hour drink specials (which I rarely go to), I rarely buy drinks in a bar. Why? Because I don't understand why I should pay an extra dollar or two for a tip. Sure, I understand when there's a level of skill in making a mixed drink, but grabbing a bottle of beer out of a fridge warrants that as well? And by the time you've paid for the drink, you've dropped almost the same amount you could spend on a six-pack at the grocery store.
Truth to be told, the angle I'm coming from is from zero experience as a server. I've never tended bar or waited tables; I've just stocked media at Best Buy, done promotions work, produced and anchored reports. So my angle is very skewed, but I wonder why the favoritism towards the service industry and valet parking.
I discussed this with a former coffee shop employee recently and I believe he said he rarely got tips. My memory is hazy, but he may have never received any tips. I find that baffling because if there's a job where there is a lot of skill in making something, it's making a coffee shop drink. It's not easy trying to remember something like "Tall Lemonade Iced Tea with Black Tea, Sweetened." Just think about the orders with multiple drinks. Yikes.
Clue me in here. Is there something about the pay scale where a server with great customer service gets a little bonus every time? Does a small tip (or no tip at all) really mean you're a bad server? Why can't other fields allow tipping? What about cheapskates like me that over-analyze life and watch every dollar I spend? Am I to stay away until I can grow some sensible, self-assertive legs?