I Hate Tipping Everybody for Everything!!!
"Thank you for the ticket. No officer. . It's a tip. IT'S NOT A BRIBE. It's 2013, we are supposed to tip EVERYBODY!"
Working the overnight shift at a gas station back in the 1970’s was not as bad as being tortured. Except in the winter time when maybe it was.
Inside, where it was warm, things were okay. Finding ways to stay awake was the major difficulty.
Between two and five a.m. there were few customers. The ones that did come were very demanding. They would drive up to the pump and beep the horn if you took more than eleven seconds to get to them. There was no self service back then. The gas attendant had to do all the pumping and perform a variety of free extra services.
Here’s an example of a typical late night/early morning patron.
The time is 2:35 A.M. A large sedan slowly pulls up to pump number one. The car is a new model, very expensive, and driven by a once attractive, middle-aged woman. Her fingers are cluttered with diamonds.
“Hello M'am, May I help you,” asks the attendant on a clear, starry night as the temperature flirts with zero degrees.
“I would like five dollars worth of gasoline. And check the oil. Then look at my back tires to make sure the air pressure is okay.”
The attendant pumps the gasoline. Next, he cleans the front and rear windows of the car-because that is part of the free services offered by "service stations."
As the frigid wind batters him, he goes from the windows to the hood where he tries to figure out how to get it open. Every car seemed to have a secret hidden latch that was designed to thwart filling station employees. Eventually he pops the hood and is ready for the next mystery. Where's the dipstick? A desperate search finally reveals the location. Yanking the stick out he holds it up towards the skimpy light afforded by the overhead bulbs. It's no go. He has to walk back inside the station to get a reading by the light of the soda machine. Of course it reads full. It’s always full. Customers who need oil never ask you to check it. He wonders why he didn't just pretend to read it and tell her "The Oil's Fine."
Now the attendant tries to put the stick back in the engine. He looks for the hole….can’t find it. Too dark. He tries for another minute or two as his fingers begin to freeze solid. Frustrated, he drags his unwilling legs back to the office again.... gets a flashlight, and makes his way back to the car and agonizingly locates the dipstick hole.
After closing the hood, his frozen toes battle the icy wind again as he begins to check the air pressure in the tires. Dutifully checking all four tires, he goes over to the compressor and untangles the air-line and then puts air in both back tires. The front tires are okay. "It's a wonder she didn't ask me to check the spare tire," he mutters to himself.
Back at the car window, he takes the five dollars, thanks the woman, and tries to turn away to go back into the office where it’s warm.
As he turns his worst fear is realized....she won't go away. She wants something else
“Oh I just remembered. My husband told me to check the transmission oil. Can you check it quickly please. I'm in a hurry.”
With stinging fingers that now won’t move independently, he opens the hood again and goes through the process of checking the transmission oil. He asks her to start the engine. She whines about it...as if it would take a great effort to turn the key.
"Why do I have to start the engine?" she balks.
"You can't get a reading unless the motor is running," he patiently explains.
Several moments later, the customer finally drives off, leaving the attendant with no tip, barely a thank you, and frozen body parts from head to toe.
The attendant painfully goes back into the office, comforted by the knowledge that it will be at least 30 minutes before he has another patron. He makes himself a cup of coffee and tries to get warm.
Forty years later that attendant, now retired on Cape Cod, gets up early in the morning and often goes through the Dunkin Donuts drive thru. He pays almost $3.00 for a cup of coffee and like everybody else in the long line forks over a tip of at least 50 cents.
After coffee he goes to Supercuts and gets a $12.00 hair cut and leaves a $5.00 tip. The dry cleaners is the next stop and he picks up three items, loses the best part of a twenty dollar bill and puts the change in a tip jar that’s prominently displayed on the counter.
If the weather’s nice, he likes to get a car wash. There goes another twelve bucks and guess what….another tip!!!!!!
Now it’s lunch time. He goes to the Olive Garden for soup and sandwich and it’s really good….so he doesn’t mind dropping down still another tip.
Before he goes home he decides to get gasoline. Most all of the gas retailers are self-service but he spots one that advertises full service.
He drives up to the pump and orders $30.00 worth of gasoline. The attendant doesn’t offer to wash his windshield or check the air in his tires. But he does come looking for a tip for filling the tank.
After forking over a few more dollars, he begins his drive home, and he wonders when the scale of tipping tipped so far over to the tipping side of things.
He worked part time at that gas station for five years. It was a second job that he took because he had four kids to feed and clothe. He tried to remember if he ever got a tip.
He remembers frozen fingertips but can’t seem to recall any money tips.
He tries to decide if he’s bitter about everybody getting tips nowadays - and he used to get none.
Then he decides to give himself a tip.
“Get over it,” he tells himself, “Things change. Keep up with it. It’s okay to visit the past but don’t live in it.”
“Nice tip," he tells himself. "Thanks," he replies to himself.