Miss Manners: There are other forms of appreciation than offering a tip

April 4, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Has there ever been an instance of refused tips from a provider of service? I believe I have one such in captivity!

The pharmacy I use provides optional free delivery of medications. The nice young man who brings my meds refuses my tip, explaining that he has a great job that allows him to drive around and listen to music all day ... and I think he’s implying that that’s enough of a blessed life for him.

I believe he deserves a tip. My building isn’t easy to access, and once he finds a parking space he must walk down a long sidewalk and then take an elevator to the eighth floor.

Not only does he deserve a tip, but I am genuinely appreciative of his assistance. I suppose “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” as this results in a refusal each time he delivers, every month. Should I just stop offering and swallow my feelings?

GENTLE READER: Your feelings? What about the feelings of the person you want to reward?

It is indeed rare for anyone to refuse a tip nowadays, but historically, pride made the American working class disdain such handouts.

Miss Manners realizes that there are modern working situations in which the opportunity to be tipped is counted as part of the basic pay, which is correspondingly low. This has led to distasteful behavior on both sides of the tip. Trolling for tips, in the form of conspicuous “tip jars” or queries of “Do you want change from that?” is commonplace. And because tips are nominally voluntary, there are people who underpay or even skip them.

But money is not the only way to show appreciation. You could both respect and reward this proud young gentleman by writing an effusive letter about his exemplary service to his employer.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a couple enters a restaurant, is it the man’s responsibility to locate the restrooms?

GENTLE READER: If he is in need of one, yes. The lady is not going to scout around for him.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I play nickel/dime poker twice a month at our clubhouse with other seniors. One player likes to snap each card with a loud pop as he deals, which is annoying and makes my hearing aid crackle.

He also licks his fingers before he begins each deal and sometimes coughs into his hands before he deals, which is disgusting and unhygienic. Is there a polite way to call this to his attention without making too much of a fuss?

GENTLE READER: Probably not. You could, of course, appeal politely to his good nature. But there are those who believe that dashing poker manners require a bit of flash when not maintaining the poker face, so Miss Manners would suggest blaming your hearing aid when making the request.

It might be better to suggest that snap and spit are marking the cards, so that you recognize the ace of diamonds from its tired corner or wet spot. But then again, it might be safer to turn down your hearing aid and bring hand sanitizer.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

, by Judith Martin

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