作者：张无忌之1989 提交日期：2004-3-1 18:52:00 | 分类： | 访问量：715
03 月01 日
What's the point of tipping?
Perhaps it was my failure to touch the diners lightly on the shoulder or entertain them with games or jokes that accounted for the paltry tips I received as a waiter all those years ago.
The tip prospects looked promising when I started out. This was, after all, the Carlton Hotel, then Johannesburg's poshest, where the customers had plenty of change to spare. One of my fellow-waiters, an Angolan refugee, advised me to lower my expectations. "The richer they are, the less they give," he told me.
I do recall receiving one tip - from a family friend who was astonished to find me serving him - during the 1970s summer that I worked there. If I had hoped to add to my wages, I had probably chosen the wrong part of the hotel. My job was in the banqueting hall, which hosted wedding receptions and corporate dinners, rather than the restaurant.
Because the guests were not paying for the meals themselves, they may have felt no obligation to tip. The other possible reason I left empty-handed after each function was that I was the worst waiter in the hotel, or possibly in the world.
My accomplishments included dropping a glass of beer in one diner's lap and eliciting a squeal from another by dripping some hot coffee down her back. My colleagues used to load dozens of empty glasses on to huge round trays that they effortlessly swirled through the swing doors into the kitchens - where they would pause to cheer the crash of glasses that invariably marked my arrival.
My day job that summer, selling food and drink from a stall at the Wanderers cricket ground, was far easier. There was less to drop and the days were enlivened by the banter of Jan, the anglicised Afrikaner I had been told to work with. "Have you got anything hot?" a customer would enquire. "Only the Cokes," Jan would answer cheerfully. No, seriously, the customer would persist. "The steak and kidney pies are quite hot," Jan would say. "Can I feel one?" the customer would ask suspiciously. "You can do what you like with it," Jan would reply, "as long as you pay for it."
We got no tips there either - but then you don't when you serve in a stall, which people think of as being different from a restaurant, which is, in turn, different from a banqueting hall. Why people tip in one environment and not another has long puzzled those who have studied the matter.
As Michael Lynn of Cornell University's school of hotel administration notes in a review of the research literature*, tipping habits differ widely between cultures. Any traveller knows that the US is the world's most tip-happy country. I could have done, in my waitering days, with some of the methods that, US researchers have found, make customers more likely to tip. Apart from the light touch on the shoulder and the games and jokes that I mentioned at the start of this column, waiters are advised to introduce themselves by name, squat down next to the table when talking to customers and give "big open-mouthed smiles".
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