Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vastly Stressful: Tipping Hairdressers

Most things in life stress me out, but "tipping a hairdresser" is exceptional.

Why? Firstly because it's not standardized...everybody has a different way of calculating a tip for their hairdresser. Some people say 10%, some say 15%, some say $10 every time, some say don't tip at all, some say you have to give money to whoever shampoos you as well. And when you ask the hairdresser what to tip, they always act all humble and say they want less than you know they actually expect.

It's also stressful because my bill is always presented to me only seconds before I'm expected to leave the tip; I'm always dealing with sort of informal stylists whose prices fluxuate based on some inner calculation that only they understand, so I don't know how much I have to pay and therefore can't mull over a suitable percentage.

Also, the stylists I deal with are all independents who either own their own salons or rent a chair in an existing salon, so it's not possible to deal with them through an intermediary: the tip goes to the stylist, directly, hand-to-hand. They also need to be paid in cash, so no handy VISA or debit tips. I have to give them bills.

And finally, I'm FRIENDS with my stylists. We get pretty close. It's one thing to tip somebody you barely know, it's another thing to tip somebody you've just had a heart-to-heart with, especially when they've spent more time and effort on you than they would an average client.

All this leads to my fumbling with my money almost as though I expect them to either visibly approve or disapprove of my tip. And then if they look a little odd -- probably because I was just standing there fumbling with my money -- I assume it's because I undertipped them. That's how I feel right now.

I wish that we could drop off tips LATER. Or send them in the mail. The system we have now is unsatisfactory.

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