Boyleing Points

Glad that’s over. The whole holiday gift-giving and what you’re supposed to tip so-and-so are traditions I can do without.

Let’s start with tipping. The mailman, or letter carrier (which used to be the mailman), is easy. If they’re reliable and take care of your mail (and they don’t leave somebody else’s mail in your box on a regular basis), you’d be doing the right thing by giving them a card with a few bucks. That might be the easiest tip all year. You don’t have to tip the mailman who comes at 5:30 p.m. and leaves a bunch of mail for the guy around the corner. But you got somebody good? A few bucks is the least you can do. 

Most people, with an ounce of awareness, know their regular letter carrier. Even if you work Monday through Friday, you’ll see your regular carrier on a Saturday from time to time.  You know who to give a card to. 

But UPS and FedEx? I don’t know. 

Sanitation is tough. You might never see the men and women in green who take your trash away. And even if you do, you might not get to know a regular crew and with recycling it gets even tougher. 

With a letter carrier you might even leave a card in your mailbox. But you can’t scotch tape a card with some cash in it to the top of your garbage can hoping the sanitation guys will find it.

I know some you of tightwads and humbugs say you shouldn’t tip federal and city workers, but you’re really just looking for a reason to be cheap. If you were hauling trash in 20-degree weather, you’d be okay with taking a tip once in a while. Honest to God, a few decades ago, they’d ring your bell and hand you a Christmas card expecting you to give them a card back — albeit a slightly heavier one.

But what about hairdressers or barbers, or any personal grooming types? Are we supposed to tip them? I know it’s fairly customary to give some extra dough for the holidays to those who make us nice and shiny, but shouldn’t they be the ones giving out the gifts?  We give them business (i.e. money) all year. We’re the clients. Maybe we’ve got this backwards. They should be giving us the fruitcake. Though, I guess, it’d be pretty shameful getting out of the barber chair and putting your hand out for a gift. Imagine a guy in suit: Hey, shoeshine boy, great job. Got anything for me? Of course, there’s a couple of people in the neighborhood I can imagine doing that.

And forget about the professional exchanges. What if a neighbor, co-worker, or friendly acquaintance shocks you with a gift?  You didn’t get them any­thing. You never would have. But next year rolls around. You buy a just-in-case gift. You don’t really want to give them something, but if they hand something to you, this time you’ll be ready. You don’t want that same old awkward feeling. But it can still get weird. This time around they don’t give you anything.  Which is fine. But then you start thinking, I wonder if they’re mad I didn’t get them anything last year.

It’s an emotional tight wire, I tell ya. I’d like a tip—a tip about how and who to tip. Even tipping experts sometimes give you a “it depends.” I don’t need no stinkin’ depends. Glad it’s over.

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