I like to consider myself a good customer. I’ve been in the service industry in the past: I worked as both a server and a grill cook at BD’s Mongolian Grill in Columbus when I was in college; I’ve bussed tables, worked in a delicatessen, and run a cash register.
One of the things every single one of these jobs have in common is that customers are just as likely to treat you like dirt as they are to smile and say thanks. That knowledge, mixed with spending two decades in the car with my dad while going through drive-thrus (the man’s a character, is what I’m saying: he’s gotten McDonald’s ladies giggling over the speaker system) have instilled in me the knowledge that people are people, no matter what you’re buying from them.
Which is why I’m so disgusted with myself that I’ve been going to GreatClips for years and didn’t realize that I’m supposed to tip them.
There’s this barbershop here in Greenville: it’s called the Broadway Barbershop, but their choice in wall-hangings led my little sister to begin calling it “The Dead Bear Place”, a name that stuck in our family. (Though, to be fair, it could have just as easily been called “The Deer Head Place” or “The Fish-on-the-Wall Place”; they liked hunting and taxidermy.)
We went there for most of my childhood. Mom would go to salons with Abbey, but I guess she figured that boys should get boy-haircuts by boys, which is a logical train of though. What I never noticed her doing was tipping the barber.
That isn’t to say that she didn’t: she might have. I just never paid attention to the money part of the transaction. Then, later on in life, Mom still paid for my haircuts, but the stylist was a friend of the family, and charged us the same amount every time. Even later in life (late High School, early college), a different friend of the family only charged students $10 for a trim to keep us looking like wild animals.
My entire life, I’ve either not paid for a haircut, or gotten one by someone I knew. The concept of tipping never entered my mind.
Until a few weeks ago.
I’ve been going to the local GreatClips: I keep my hair pretty short (compared to college) and a cheap haircut once a month keeps me golden. But in January, paying for my monthly folicular maintenance with my debit card, I finally noticed a “tip” line on the receipt as I’m walking out.
So I went to Facebook to find out. And apparently, not only is it common courtesy to tip your hair-cutter (they aren’t barbers, but neither do I pay them to style), it’s expected.
I always figured that hair-cutters was one of those professions that you don’t tip. I don’t tip my mechanic. I don’t tip the Wal-Mart Cashier. I don’t tip the folks at the video store, or at Mickey D’s, or at the bowling alley. I for SURE didn’t get tips when I worked in a deli. I’ve only ever tipped waiters and waitresses and the pizza guy (that I can think of right now), and I thought I was doing pretty good.
Where’s the line? What services do you tip for, and which ones don’t require it?
It’s frustrating, is all. Like… lets say English is your second language. In your first language, it’s customary to end a conversation with “thank you very much” or something similar. When you learn English, you continue to end conversations with that. Nothing wrong with it in theory, but in your first language, “Thank you very much” is pronounced “Drop dead, douchebag”.
Do you see what I’m getting at? I wasn’t trying to be a jerk. I didn’t even know that I was being one through inaction, but that’s probably what they think of me.
So, I went back again at the beginning of February, and I made sure to tip this time. I still feel bad though.