Do we not tip flight attendants because their salaries are sky high?

Thursday, 29 August, 2013

Not a topic I’ve ever given much though to… why don’t we tip air cabin crew? To take a stab at the question though, I’d have said it’s because I’m paying enough, by way of an air fare, to be flying in the first place, so why should I have to fork out anymore for the privilege?

London based author Kathleen Barry, writer of Femininity in Flight, however advances an all together different explanation for the absence of the practice in the air:

The answer is, in short, because tips were for Black people. Black porters on trains and boats were tipped as a matter of course but, according to Barry, tipping a White person would have been equivalent to an insult. A journalist, writing in 1902, captured the thinking of the time when he expressed shock and dismay that “any native-born American could consent” to accepting a tip. “Tips go with servility,” he said. Accepting one was equivalent to affirming “I am less than you.” This interpretation of the meaning of a gratuity, alongside airlines’ need to inspire confidence and simple racism, is why we don’t tip flight attendants today.

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Is it time to change the old “keep the change” refrain?

Wednesday, 3 July, 2013

The more I think about it, the more bizarre the practice of tipping becomes. While we might offer gratuities to a variety of people, waiting and hotel staff are probably the most frequent recipients thereof.

But why not build enough margin into the prices that cafes, bars, and hotels charge, so they can pay their staff a decent wage, one that doesn’t rely on hand-outs, or the generosity, or otherwise, of customers?

Tip confusion is understandable, because it’s not the way we choose to compensate most of our other people-facing professions. Imagine if when you went to the doctor, you decided how much he got paid based on how happy you were with the diagnosis; or if actors and musicians were paid discretionary sums by the audience, post-performance. Even within the context of the restaurant, some roles receive salaries and others rely on tips. Why do I tip the bartender who made my Manhattan, but not the line cook who grilled the excellent steak I’m eating with it? It’s completely arbitrary. Servers, whose job demands are not fundamentally different than that of hard-working office assistants, or hotel concierges, or spin instructors, or flight attendants, should be paid the competitive wage for what they do and how well they do it, and that cost should be factored into menu prices.

I pay enough for the privilege of staying in mid to upper range hotels, so I can’t see how they’d be struggling to pay their workers properly. I’m wondering if we’d really notice paying a little extra at cafes and bars though, so employees weren’t reliant on tips to make a living.

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If something can’t serve at least three purposes then don’t buy it

Tuesday, 20 November, 2012

A few months ago I linked to list that offered 17 tips for making life a little easier than it maybe already is. If that wasn’t enough though, here are 99 “hacks” that will further ease the stress and strain of everyday life. Actually I tried to skim a couple of the best off the top to include here but was hard pressed to any that were somehow better than the rest.

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Ramping up those creature comforts, let us count the ways

Thursday, 2 August, 2012

And when you don’t need a list of items that are absolutely essential, you may find these suggestions, that offer advice ranging from how to eliminate static cling, to reopening sealed envelopes, to reheating pizza, helpful.

Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove , set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.

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The better place is always next door to the one the guide suggests

Tuesday, 10 April, 2012

Here’s some travel theory I wouldn’t mind testing out… once a hotel or restaurant receives a recommendation from a travel guide, such as Lonely Planet or Let’s Go, they soon become overcrowded and overpriced. Apparently however new places that are just as good soon open up nearby, and this is where travellers will find the best deals.

Industrious entrepreneurs quickly learn that when these books recommend a place, they quickly get overcrowded and prices go up. The solution: they open a place right next door or nearby to handle the spillover. Without fail, those are the places that are cheaper, more delicious and not jaded.

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A better way to tie shoe laces… the link you’ve been waiting for

Thursday, 15 March, 2012

If it takes 30 days to develop a new habit you could be permanently tying the laces on your shoes (video) the “right way” in no time at all.

I’ve been trying this one out, and so far so good. The real trick is remembering to lace your shoes this way in the first place.

(Thanks Coffee Girl)

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Closer proximity, rather than distance, makes the gratuities grow

Thursday, 19 May, 2011

Waitstaff stand a better chance of collecting a generous tip should they stand closer to diners, especially those who are alone, when serving them, suggests some recent research.

Five waitresses in three restaurants were asked to stand erect at varying distances from patrons, who were alone at their table, when taking orders. Short interpersonal distance was associated with both a greater frequency in tipping and an increased amount of money given.

This particular study appeared to only observe female waiting staff, so I’m not sure if male waiters would also enjoy the same level of gratuities in similar circumstances.

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Good writing comes from writing, not from talking about writing

Wednesday, 2 March, 2011

No nonsense advice from Oliver Miller for writers who want to get on and actually write.

Don’t listen to advice from writers. I realize that me saying this will invalidate this entire column, but I’m cool with that. Writers like to talk about writing because talking about writing is easier than actually sitting down and – y’know – writing something. (Like a novel, or a play, or a poem, or such.) Don’t listen to writers. And are you sure that writers even have your best interests at heart? Most writers that I know are petty, insecure, self-absorbed dicks. And writers don’t like competition. Therefore, take any advice that they give you with a grain of salt.

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When writing non-fiction set reasonable word per day targets

Tuesday, 9 March, 2010

A few pointers from Tim Harford on writing non-fiction:

At the moment, having done much of my research, I’m trying to do 300 words every day as a minimum. This low target means that no matter what other commitments I have, I have no excuse not to skim through what I wrote yesterday and add to it.

If 300 words doesn’t seem like much, see if you can go about producing 500 – researched, proofread, edited – words a day. We’re talking about book or feature articles writing here, it’s not as straight-forward as it seems.

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I don’t actually work, I play the sharemarket for a living

Thursday, 21 May, 2009

Scott Sternberg lays down the his rules of style, first up, don’t ask obvious questions, they don’t make you look smart:

Opening a conversation with “What do you do?” makes you sound like a shifty, social-climbing dickwad. Small talk is for sissies, but if you’re stuck with it, you can certainly come up with something better than that.

(As for “playing the sharemarket”…)

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