this year, just keep your bag of rocks…

Today I was reminded of a pet peeve that seems to pop up each year around the holidays … and that pet peeve would be in regards to expectations for holiday tipping.

And I’m not even talking about the folks who work at Subway or Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts who put the tip jar out for doing their jobs, mind you – this time I’m concerned with the even more direct approach taken by our garbage men and mail men and seemingly everyone else who performs a service outside of my house that I’m using not even around to witness. Earlier this afternoon, I walked outside to retrieve our empty garbage can because today was trash day and low and behold, resting at the end of our driveway was the classic “Happy Holidays” card in a small plastic bag held down by rocks, with our garbage man’s home addresses written prominently on the front of the card.

I mean, I completely understand – I actually include our home address printed on the front of our Christmas cards, too … it’s just so that everyone else knows where to send our Christmas card in return, that’s all! I wonder what would happen if I just mailed him an empty Christmas card saying, “Happy Holidays – Sincerely, Your Customers” … would it genuinely be appreciated, or just make him pissed because I didn’t send a tip?

It makes me wonder how many people actually do give these folks extra money around the holidays because just like e-mail spam, they wouldn’t waste the time doing it if nobody responded. Ultimately, I think it just sort of bothers me along the same lines as those Starbucks tip jars because these aren’t waiters who earn a much smaller wage and rely on tips to make up the difference – they earn a full-blown wage from their employer, and in my understanding the mail carriers actually do pretty well. So why am *I* expected to give them extra simply for doing their job … just because it’s the holidays??? If my employer choses to give me a Christmas bonus, then great … but it’s not my fault if their bosses don’t do the same for them! Take it up with Waste Management or Uncle Sam.

Really, I think it’s pushing the lines of the “service” industry farther and farther because frankly, these are people that I wouldn’t normally even tip in the first place. Sure, I might give the girl who cuts my hair a few bucks more than normal or give my waiter 5% extra for the holidays, but if I normally wouldn’t give you a tip anyways?! And in the case of the needy garbage men, it’s even worse because we don’t even pay the bill for garbage collection – the HOA does. Why would I tip you for a service that I don’t even pay for myself?!

I guess at the end of the day, it just seems a little tacky for me that anyone who interacts with consumers seems to feel that tips should be warranted these days, and around the holidays when hands are extended at every turn all the more, a guy just gets tired of everyone asking him for extra money when he certainly isn’t collecting anything more himself. Wait a minute, that’s it! Maybe I should start asking for tips when people read my humor columns … I’ll just leave a small bag of rocks on their keyboard the next morning and I’m sure they’ll be happy to open up their wallets in the spirit of the season! Wouldn’t you?!

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