This is a bit off-topic, but bear with me. I’ll bring it all back to disability issues.
This episode of the fantastic Judge John Hodgman podcast is about tipping … that is, who one is expected to give a gratuity, how much, and why we give tips at all. “Judge” Hodgman, his “Bailiff” Jesse Thorn, and the married couple who are the “Litigants” discuss:
- who actually receives the money from tips (it’s not just your waitress)
- whether it is a reward for good service, or an expected component of service employees’ pay
- which services are you supposed to tip
- whether tipping low or stiffing service workers actually teaches them any lessons (what do YOU think?)
- how much should you tip
When Judge Hodgman also pointed out that generous tipping is an investment in better service, with people and places you plan to use frequently, it made me wonder whether good or bad tipping habits can affect service to customers with disabilities.
I don’t travel a lot, but when I do, I make sure to have a bunch of $5 bills on me just for tips. I’m not talking about tips for waitstaff so much, but in airports, it makes life a whole lot easier. True, I could probably get by purely on asserting my right to accommodations. On the other hand, the people who always have to carry out reasonable accommodations are the lowest paid and least respected people in the industry, and I feel like the extra money works for them, and frankly their improved attitude and more personal commitment to, say, getting me to the gate or hauling my bags off the baggage claim belt, works for me.
Of course, many disabled people can’t afford to be “generous” tippers. Sometimes, that can’t be helped. Nevertheless, I would recommend disabled travelers to budget as much as possible for tips when they plan a trip. Certainly don’t forget about it and just hope you’ve got a little extra cash when the time comes to give the lady pushing your wheelchair a tip.
The other problem is that some of us may actually be kind of clueless about tipping, from lack of experience or because nobody ever bothered to give us the lowdown on tipping customs. It seems like an important independent living skill, but one that probably gets forgotten a lot.
So, fellow disabled readers, what are your tipping experiences and practices?