That old Tipping Dilemma
Sam: I’m Australian — in Australia— I’ve lived nearly two decades in Japan — and my wife and I have travelled widely around the world. Including in the US. In Australia there is no obligation to tip — though in good restaurants or with taxi fares we may round up the bill/the fare (certainly if paying by cash) but there is no obligation to do so — people — till recent neo-con governments here and some destruction of workers’ rights — have been paid tribunal-determined award wages — the kinds of protections which went back to the beginnings of the 20th century with the establishment of this modern “state”! I suspect our tipping (when it occurs) comes about because so many of us either come from lands where it exists or have travelled in places where it occurs. In Japan — there is absolutely no tipping. Though Japanese when travelling abroad can be amongst the most generous of tippers. When my wife and I travel through the US — four significant trips in the past five years — we tip always at slightly above the official rate — at your 20% because we are well aware that “official” rates of pay are so criminally miserly! That tipping/gratuities become the wage for the person serving. We find it incomprehensible that a nation can treat its service workers in such an abominable fashion — salary should come first from the service payment we think — then later what remains is profit — even if that means raising slightly the original service charge. And there is something demeaning in a system which gives the customer some kind of power over the worker — forcing a kind of obsequious manner from the underling — in hopes of getting that tip! We are just returned from time around the Mediterranean (not by cruise ship) — in Italy, Morocco, Malta and Greece. My wife researched tipping practices before we went — and we abided by those descriptions in each place. No one was rude to us — we were clearly not flouting any of their usual practices. We had a great time! We are not wealthy, either — but culturally attuned! Now retired. Former teachers — both of us.