Here’s a Tip

Michael Lynn of Cornell University studied the practice of tipping and found that it’s an odd economic system with little connection between the quality of service delivered and the size of the tip. It’s especially difficult because tipping is an after-the-fact deal. A lousy tip won’t improve your lousy service.

Lynn offers a free PDF booklet about tipping (if you find the book helpful, he asks for a tip) which includes the following advice:

  • Wear something unusual.
  • Introduce yourself by name.
  • Crouch next to the table.
  • Repeat customers’ orders.
  • Smile at customers.
  • Get customers to order more.
  • Touch customers. (Good touches only, please)
  • Entertain customers.
  • Forecast good weather.
  • Write “thank you” or draw pictures on checks.
  • Use tip trays with a credit card logo.
  • Give customers candy. (Mmm… minty)
  • Call customers by name.

I usually tip 15% at restaurants (rounded to some extent because I don’t like math, not because I don’t have change–I usually pay with a check card) and I almost always vary it based on service, though I tend to punish bad service more than I reward good service.

Frankly, I think not being a jerk is the best route to getting a good tip. We ate at Denny’s for breakfast on our way to San Diego and after being seated went a good 5-10 minutes without being served (which is a long time in a casual restaurant like that). We were beginning to get annoyed when the waitress finally came up, apologized for taking so long, and took our orders. Her simple apology, a mere acknowledgement of the fact that we had to wait, took care of all my annoyances. A poor tip was avoided.

Though I will say I hate tipping in other situations: Taxis, haircuts, the baggage guy at the airport. Aren’t those people getting paid a standard wage? Do they really rely on my tip (should they be)? At least waiters/waitresses actually rely on my tip–they’re paid less than minimum wage because tips are meant to make up the difference. I grudgingly tip in those situations, usually a minimum dollar amount that won’t make feel sheepish ($1-3).

Kottke’s Micro Patronage

Full-time blogger Jason Kottke finally gives an update on his fund-raising efforts to secure his year as a full-time blogger. The verdict? Contributions didn’t quite make it to Kottke’s goal of one-third to one-half his previous salary, but it’s close enough. All in all, he’s not feeling particularly positive about his future outlooks. He assumes year-on-year giving will drop, making this venture harder and harder to finance without some other source. He recommends advertising if you can live with the trade-offs. So far he can’t.

Battlestar Galactica

I just watched the first episode of SciFi’s Battlestar Galactica online, uncut and commercial free. The idea of watching a TV show online like that is new and funky, and I like it. You have to watch it streaming in a Real Player, but with my broadband connection it came through just fine. I recommend opening it up in Real Player so you can stretch the window–it loses some image quality, but still looks pretty good.

For a first episode they really throw you into the middle of the action. There’s even a ‘last time on Battlestar Galactica’ to catch you up on what you’ve missed. I don’t know if that means there was an earlier episode, or if that’s just intended to bring you up to speed so they can start in the middle, so to speak.

The basic idea is pretty cool. This creepy alien race (the Cylons) have destroyed earth (I’m assuming from the ‘last time’ clip that’s what happened) and are chasing down the remaining humans on board a starship fleet. It seems the Cylons can also infect people, much like a computer virus, to infiltrate the fleet.

Pretty funky stuff. I’d love to keep watching, but alas, no SciFi channel for me. I’ll have to wait for DVD. (link via Nick Ciske)

Stupid Press Release

It pays to check your work. And double check your work. Sometimes even triple checking your work isn’t a bad thing.

Earlier this week a friend e-mailed me about a press release that had gone out to some industry folks. But if you scrolled down past the normal release hype, you could see behind the veil and into the innerworkings of the industry. The press release had been sent with the entire e-mail exchange about how to wordsmith the release, along with the original release at the bottom. Oops.

Big time oops. I was tempted to blog all the juicy details (actually dared by the aforementioned friend), but I thought better of it. Instead I e-mailed the offending party, and he or she asked me not to blog about it. So for the sake of that peron’s job, I’m leaving out the incriminating details.

But in the long wrong they’re not that incriminating. It was a mistake, something that could have been disasterous. But the e-mail exchange was actually rather harmless, and if anything shows the company’s commitment to honesty and straight forward communication.

But how do you appropriately deal with a mistake like that?

Continue reading Stupid Press Release