Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How Much Do You Tip?

My husband got me a massage for Christmas. I had been holding on getting it done until the right moment I needed it- as a teacher -- that time is between the President's Day and spring break.

The masseur (Michelle) did an amazing job she even got that one spot on my neck that is always tight.

At the end of the massage when I was finished getting dressed Michelle came back in and handed me a black payment book (you know the one you see in restaurants) she explained it was for the tip. Like many modern people I don't carry a lot of cash. I did happen to go to the ATM the day before but of course forgot that I spent it.  I dug in my wallet and put in $4 with the intention of going up the ATM and adding to her tip.

As I was setting down the payment book Michelle scooped it up, opened it and pulled out the $4 and said, "this is not enough. it was a 90 minutes massage. (and muttered under her breath)"  Of course I was embarrassed I explained that I needed a ATM. She told me where to go and repeated that it wasn't enough and more muttering. 

I couldn't help but wonder why did she watch me tip her? She could have continued cleaning the room but she stopped and watched me. Does she do this for every client or is it because I'm Black? 

Was I being paranoid?

I've heard from many people that they hate serving black people because we don't tip very well. I am very aware of this stereotype and try to make up for it.  I am usually a very generous tipper. I'm also overly nice for the same reason. I hate that I feel like I have to make up for my entire race. I hate that I feel like I'm being judged when I really just want to have a good time. It is a heavy burden. 

The more I thought about this massage situation, the more upset I was. How dare she tell me how much to tip? What if I was not happy with the service? The massage was a gift what if I only had limited funds to tip? Actually since is was a gift how was I supposed to know how much to tip? What is a appropriate amount? 

How does one know who and how much to tip? Who decides these tipping rules? 

I wish we were like Europe and paid people a living wage so they can afford to work without depending on tips.  Until then I'll continue tipping generously even when I leave my cash at home.