Tips and Tipping

Tippins has grown to such alarming proportions as to have become a menace to tourist travel in the older portions of the world. The system is universal there, and no traveler can live in peace unless he subscribes to it. hose who demand tips have at the r mercy all who refuse them gratification and an independent traveler is known wherever he goes.

CHARLES WINDHAM April 1 1906

Tips and Tipping

Tippins has grown to such alarming proportions as to have become a menace to tourist travel in the older portions of the world. The system is universal there, and no traveler can live in peace unless he subscribes to it. hose who demand tips have at the r mercy all who refuse them gratification and an independent traveler is known wherever he goes.

CHARLES WINDHAM April 1 1906

Tips and Tipping

BY CHARLES WINDHAM IN CHAMBERS 8 JOURNAL.

Tippins has grown to such alarming proportions as to have become a menace to tourist travel in the older portions of the world. The system is universal there, and no traveler can live in peace unless he subscribes to it. hose who demand tips have at the r mercy all who refuse them gratification and an independent traveler is known wherever he goes.

ALL things considered, it is perhaps as well that the identity of the man who first gave a “tip” has never been discovered. No doubt the individual in question was animated by the best motives, and had no idea of the heritage of annoyance and expense he was bequeathing to an innocent posterity. It may fairly be presumed, too, that he meant his illplaced generosity to be regarded as a personal matter for that one occasion only, and not as establishing a precedent in either his own case or that of anybody else. Unfortunately, these praiseworthy intentions failed utterly, and the innovation spread promptly and to such an extent that what was originally an entirely optional custom has now practically become an obligatory one. From time to time, certainly, a few bold spirits have been daring enough to make a determined stand against the evil—for it is nothing less—but the attempt has never proved successful. Sooner or later the iconoclasts have, under pressure of the class whose vested interests are thus assailed, given way and fallen into line with every one else. Nor is this really to be wondered at, for to walk out of an hotel ignoring the outstretched hands of the army of domestics lined up in the entrance halls demands considerably more than an average amount of moral courage. Similarly with regard to every other instance where custom decrees that the insidous “tip” shall be bestowed. Per-

haps this explains in part why it is that although we all bitterly inveigh against the practice, yet we all subscribe to it.

One of the most irritating features in connection with “tipping” is that there is no rhyme or reason about it. Thus we fee A., who does nothing, and pass by B., who possibly deserves recognition. When we dine at a restaurant the imposing headwaiter has a coin slipped into his hand at parting, although his labors on our behalf have commenced and ended with the presentation of the bill. Yet the cook who has prepared the dinner gets nothing at all. Again, we “tip,” or “remember,” as the individuals concerned, prefer to term it, the employes in a hairdresser’s shop, but not those in that of a tailor or bootmaker. In the same way, cabmen are overpaid as a matter of course, while every halfpenny of change is firmly exacted from ’bus conductors. There may be some good and sufficient grounds, for drawing'these delicate distinctions, yet nobody Seems to be aware of them.

That the practice of “tipping” is on the increase there is not the slightest doubt. New claimants for this form of recognition are continually springing up. In the old days, for 'example, when one stopped at an hotel the waiter, chambermaid, and “boots” alone expected a gratuity. Nowadays, however, these functionaries are joined by lift-boys, luggagecarriers, hall-porters, and waiters from all the various departments of

the establishment — smoking-room, drawing-room, reading-room, restaurant, Every one who has travelled must have a lively recollection of how, at the moment of leaving all sorts of individuals who have hitherto kept out of sight suddenly spring into existence. To ignore their mute, but at the same time exceedingly eloquent, appeals is impossible.

It is said that a hardy Briton once left an ultra-fashionable hotel in Paris without bestowing so much as a single sou on any of the expectant throng gathered together to speed his parting. Waving them aside with a lordly gesture, he walked calmly through the front door into the street, ordering his luggage to be sent after him. The hall-porter was so taken abaok that the daring visitor was safely out of sight before he quite grasped what had happened. Then, with great presence of mind, he transferred the luggage to a cab bound for the wrong railway station. It was the only possible method, he felt, of marking his sense of horror at the outrage committed on himself and colleagues.

A less drastic, but equally efficacious, manner in which hotel employes notify their uncomplimentary opinions of those with whom they come into contact takes the form of inscribing on the luggage certain hieroglyphics in chalk. Another plan is to arrange the labels in such a way that the staff at other establishments subsequently patronised will be able to decipher their hidden meaning. The *»ode is rather complicated). Thus, according to whether an innocent looking label be pasted the right or the wrong way up, or on the top, the bottom, or the side, something different is meant. If only the system were known the traveler could en-

sure the command of special attention, for all he would then have to do would be to arrange the labels so as to read, “This is a generous man; treat him well,” or something of the sort. It may possibly have been within the reader’s experience on arriving*, at an hotel to find the servants extending him a welcome the reverse of cordial, and eyeing his trunks and boxes with apathy. For this the position of a tell-tale luggage label is responsible. At times, also, hall-porters, when they consider themselves inadequately rewarded, go a step further and chalk an offensive epithet on the baggage of the individual concerned. A place where this sort of thing frequently happens is Monte Carlo, and any one who falls below the standard of liberality laid down by the staff of the hotel he stops at there is liable, on departing, to find the words “salte” and “salir” scrawled on his boxes. The result is that when he reaches the railway station the porters, instead of attending briskly to him, all suddenly remember pressing engagements elsewhere. It often happens, too, that anything thus marked goes astray on the journey, rather leading one to suppose that it is thrown out of the window at the first convenient opportunity.

Ladies seem to be special sufferers from this unwelcome form of attention. A few weeks ago ÆL letter on the subject appeared in a continental paper. The writer, a lady traveling alone, complained that on leaving a certain well-known Riviera hotel after a week’s stay she dispensed gratuities on the following scale: Femme de

chambre, hall-porter, and head-waiter, five francs each; “boots,” four francs; lift attendants (two men), four francs; luggage porters (two men), four francs; omnibus conduc-

tor, three francs—total, thirty francs. Despite this really liberal expenditure she evidently failed to satisfy the greed of the staff, for when she reached the station she discovered that all her luggage had an insuFting remark chalked on it. An experience of this sort is not calculated to give one a very pleasant impression of continental travel.

Just as the appetite grows on what it feeds upon, so does “tipping” increase with “tips.” It is the lavish and ill-placed liberality of certain individuals that is responsible for the serious proportions which the system has now assumed. The moderate gratuities once given in rare instances and entirely as a matter of grace for services outside the ordinary no longer obtain. “Tips” have become many and large, and are looked upon by their recipients, as their just due. If they are not forthcoming pressure is brought to bear by the class concerned, and pressure of a nature that few are bold enough to stand against. It seems that it is the wealthy tourist from the United States more than anyone else who has made “tipping” such a tax. Scattering dollars where shillings would be more than ample, they make the way very difficult for the equally well-intentioned but poorer individuals who come after them. It is only natural that when once a waiter has had half-a-sovereign for performing a trifling service, he turns up his nose when the next patron offers him kalf-a-crown.

One of the chief difficulties in connection with the whole system of tipping” is that there are no exact rules about it. Thus no one can declare with certainty either whom to “tip,” when to “tip” or how much to 11 tip. ” It is all very well to say that the answer is “everybody,” “al-

ways,” and “liberally;” for, though excellent in theory, this does not work out in practice at all. Then some professed experts declare, with regard to the amount, that the proper scale of disbursements is, in the case of residence at an hotel, ID per cent, of the bill. This, however, is by no means a safe calculation, as it generally means far too small a sum. Suppose, for example, a four days’ hotel bill to be two and a half guineas. The “tip” percentage would then be a trifle over five shillings, a sum which it would be impossible to divide in such a manner as to satisfy everybody who expects to share in it. The number of these is often embarrassingly large. First and foremost is the lordly head-waiter; then comes at least one assistant. These two alone will leave very little change out of five shillings, while the hall-porter, chambermaid, lift-attendants, and luggage-carriers have also to be reckoned with. Then, if one stops long enough to run up a Bill for 20 pounds, the 10 per cent, basis is equally inapplicable.

To lay down the precise amount to be bestowed on each applicant is scarcely feasible, as the distribution depends on many different circumstances. A long stay, for example, means larger gifts at parting than a small one; and, similarly, more is expected of the occupant of a first-floor suite than of the individual who contents himself with a modest bedroom at the top of the house, while the class of hotel patronized is also a governing factor. Striking an average, however, it may be said that, in the case of a week’s residence, the following sums are ample: head-waiter, five

shillings ; waiter, half-a-crown ; chambermaid and hall-porter, two shillings each; luggage-porter, eighteen pence;

lift-man, a schilling. TFey will all probably look as though they wanted more, but they will at least have the grace to say, “Thank you.”

Sea-trips are closely bound up with sea-tips. Indeed, one cannot go on the shortest voyage without discovering that the passage money is not by any means the only expense to which the traveller is, put. The different “tips” or gratuities may be small in themselves, but they mount up to a good deal in the aggregate. On a long journey —to Australia or China, for example—they are apt to make a considerable hole in the ten-pound note; while even on one of only a few clays’ duration they can easily run away with the best part of five pounds.

It is difficult to lay down any hardand fast rules about “tips” on board ship. They are governed by many different circumstances, such as the duration of the voyage, the class of cabin occupied, the amount of attention required, and the ideas on the subject of the individual concerned. First-class travellers are naturally expected to be more generous than second-class ones, and on some lines “tips” rule higher than on others. This latter circumstance has very little to do with the length of the voyage, for the big Atlantic linersWhich run between America and England in five days call for more private disbursement of this sort than do many of the vessels plying to India and the east. Cruises on pleasure-yachts, too, mean larger gratuities than usual.

To the inexperienced voyager the task of discovering whom to “tip” is almost as difficult as that of discovering how to “tip.” The novice is certain to give either too much or too little, while he is also very apt to press his parting gifts upon the wrong people. A wealthy but un-

travelled individual, in his anxiety to do the right thing, once took the captain aside as soon as he came on board and blandly offered him a sovereign to see that he was made comfortable. Another stood as much in awe of his cabin-steward that he passed him by altogether when the critical moment came.

The number of people on board ship who expect to be tipped (or “remembeied,” as they themselves more elegantly put it) is large enough to be a serious consideration. Roughly speaking, every one—except the officers—who comes into contact with the passengers thinks himself illtreated if not pecuniarily rewarded at the end of the voyage. Of course there is no compulsion to fall in with this view ; at the same time, those who hold aloof from the general practice are not likely to have their comfort studied to any great extent. Thus the non-tipping but strongminded traveller never finds himself called at the proper time in the morning, the bath is always occupied when he wants it, his deck-chair gets washed overboard in the night, and portions of his baggage mysteriously disappear when he is leaving the ship. The next time he goes to sea he probably decides to subscribe to the custom, much as he may dislike paying for service that is nominally rendered free of charge.

First and foremost among those who are eligible for a “tip” is the chief steward. Unless he receives what he considers an adequate amount a bad seat at table is the result. On the American liners a sovereign is quite a usual figure to present this important individual with. The millionaire occupants of the best state-rooms and those who want the privilege of sitting at the captain’s

table at meal times have to put their hands a good deal deeper into their pockets. A more modest scale obtains on the P. & 0., Orient, and Union Castle lines, on any of which a sovereign is regarded as an outside gratuity even for the longest voyage.

After the chief-steward has been “remembered,” the man who waits at table claims attention. Five shillings for a short voyage to the Mediten anean or Egypt, and ten shilling for a long one to India or the jCape, are the usual payments in this case. The cabin steward expects recognition on at least the same scale, and as he works harder for the passengers’ comfort than any one else, often gets more. Then comes the bathsteward, who sees no reason why he should be left out in the cold when anything is being given away, although on board ship people almost invariably prepare their own baths. However, he generally receives halfa-crown from every one upon whom he is supposed to be in attendance. The last to submit a claim is the baggage-room steward. A couple of shillings meet it well enough.

So much for the staff below deck. There is another one above which has no intention of being overlooked when tipping-time arrives. At its head is the smoking-room steward, who seldom does anything more laborious than whistle down a speaking tube for cigars. In order that he may not collapse from overwork, he is provided with an assistant who fetches drinks from the adjacent bar as they are required. Each of these worthies thinks himself ill-used if he is not presented with at least four

or five shillings by all who have used the smoking room

during the voyage. The deck-

steward who is responsible for the accessories of the various games played on board, has also to be remembered and, finally, there is the quartermaster who looks after the deckchairs. Half-a-crown apiece is enough on their account, although they themselves may hold a different opinion about the matter.

On some lines a practice prevails of placing a box in the smoking-room or salcon, in which passengers are requested to deposit such “tips” as they may feel inclined to give.. The amount of these is then divided equitably among the staff. The plan spares the traveler a good deal of trouble and mental anxiety. It also has the advantage of ensuring that no one gets a larger share than by the accepted custom he is entitled to. Among the participants, however, it is not popular, for they consider that the total thus subscribed is below what it otherwise would be. The shipping line which relieves its patrons of this taxation entirely (for the “tipping system” amounts to nothing else) has a great future before it. Unfortunately, such a line has not yet come into existence.

Perhaps the country where “tipping” is more deeply rooted than anywhere else is Egypt. The persisted t of the demands for “backsheesh” there is quite proverbial, and the appearance of a stranger in the streets of Cairo or Port Said is the signo 1 for the immediate swarming round him of beggars, hucksters, guides, and touts of every description. Even when one makes a purchase in a native shop one is expected to leave a piastre or two behind, nominally “for coffee.” In Italy, too —and especially in Naples —touring and “tipping” go hand-in-hand. The only

thing to be thankful for is that throughout the entire country gratuities are smaller than anywhere else in Europe. An hotel hall-porter in Rome beams when he is presented with a couple of lire, and equally moderate disbursements are gratefully accepted by waiters and chambermaids. There are, however, so many

of them to participate in the visitor’s bounty that even these small sums form a serious item in the cost of an Italian tour. Altogether, protest against it as we do, the “tipping system” has come to stay, and not even the most resolute of passive resisters can stand against it for any length of time.