‘Tis the season to be jolly, the song goes, so we often reach a bit deeper into our pockets and drop some coins or bills into the Salvation Army red bucket outside the post office, or other worthy causes this time of year. Some of us also may slip an extra buck or two to the waiter or waitress for great service or going out of their way for us. It’s the Christmas Spirit.
This brings up the question of when to tip, how much should we tip, and who deserves a tip. I was in New York City this past week on business, and while not as bad as Chicago service workers for always having their hand out, service people in Manhattan seem to expect something for doing very little.
Cab drivers help you calculate the tip when the ride is over with a screen that shows how much 15%, 20% and 25% would amount to, on top of the fare. Dinner for four at the Roxy Deli on Broadway and 47th totaled $95.00, and the restaurant was considerate enough to add 18% on the bill as a tip regardless of how shoddy the service was. I had no choice in the matter.
The Roxy Delicatessen on Broadway in New York
Saturday morning when I was checking out of my hotel, a nice boutique hotel right off 49th and Broadway in the Theater District called The Time, the doorman who I had seen for the last few days opened the door for me and asked if I needed a cab. This doorman, other than greeting me when I walked in and out, really didn’t serve a purpose other than offering a presence at the front door, but I knew he expected a tip and I ran out of small bills. I immediately apologized, telling him, “hey, I’m really sorry…I ran out of cash…” He smiled and said it wasn’t a problem.
The Time Hotel Doorman Shakes Down The New York Taxi Driver
As we walked out into the morning cold I looked down the block at a line of taxis that were waiting for people like me who were headed to the airport, as he tried to sell me on the Lincoln Towne Car for $65.00. I told him that due to a previous experience, I prefer a yellow cab – a real taxi, and he proceeded to flag down one for me.
As the car pulled up and I put my bags into the trunk and settled into the back seat, the previously friendly doorman began shaking down the cab driver. It went something like this:
Doorman: Hey, you gonna take care of me?
Cabby: Huh, what do you mean?
Doorman: You know what I mean, you gotta take care of me if you sit in front of my hotel. That’s how it works.
Cabby: That’s not right…
Doorman: C’mon…(as he rubs his fingers together)
Cabby: (handing over a couple of dollars and quickly pulling away) That’s wrong…
I wound up covering the few dollars the doorman extorted from the cab driver, and I am not sure if he did this to cover for the $2 he didn’t get from me, or if he does this to every taxi driver, but it doesn’t leave a very good taste in the mouth of the hotel guest as he or she heads back home. I would stay at the hotel again, I just won’t trust the hotel’s staff.