That’s it really. That’s the post. This was going to be a tweet but then I checked the calendar and realised I needed to update my website with some fresh content.
I’ve been really REALLY blessed by content creation this year. I never wanted to be anything other than a writer. Okay, also a doctor and a cop too. But never a cowboy nor an astronaut. I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always just wanted to write.
Up until a year ago, I had made a total of twenty-three dollars writing articles. I had written a lot of articles for student papers and things but none of them were paid. Then I was paid to write an article for a London magazine, way back in 1994, about the food scene in Germany. It was pretty thin on the ground back then. Times have changed for the better.
A year ago I got a big break and began writing a few articles for web clients. In addition I published my first book. I earned three figures that year. This year I published more books, and am writing regular articles for clients. Maybe next year is my breakthrough year and four figures turns into five. Anyway. You came here for the advice, not my writer’s life.
We all Have People Working for Us
When a student starts work for me I immediately double the hourly sum they ask for. They ask for notoriously small sums, and I know I will be reliant on them for a lot of the work I have neither the time nor the propensity for. If they are happy, then I will be happy. If they aren’t happy and leave, I will be left with a lot more to do.
If you agree with me, then thank you. I tip my hat and nod and know you to be the man or woman that you are. Well met. If you disagree, then give me a moment to explain. After working so long in food and beverage, it’s clear to me that we mostly pay the people who do the least, the most amount of money.
Look at politicians, middle management, professional athletes, and fashion models. Perhaps we don’t even need the rest of this post. Yes, this could have been a tweet!
Thank You for Tipping the Best Dressed Staff
Among other things, I was once a French service waiter. People would tip me ten, sometimes twenty bucks for delivering a plate of Tartare de Boeuf from the kitchen and opening a bottle of Pomerol ’88. While I was dressed in a tuxedo. The guys in the kitchen sweated (I know, I worked as a chef for ten years as well), and the chambermaids sweated even more. I did nothing much more than carrying, walking, smiling, pouring expensive wines, and lighting cigarettes BUT I was always given the largest tip.
Now, I worked twenty years in the business, front of house and back. Fancy hotels to McDonald’s. I worked my butt off in some places and had an easier time of it in others. I served breakfast at 5 am to hundreds of people, carried babies diapers to the bathroom, worked for minimum wage often way over time without extra pay, slept on the dining room floor, and other things I now find ludicrous. I know the service industry can really, REALLY bite. But, when you’re young you can better roll with the punches.
Does Anyone Else Tidy their Hotel Room Before Checking Out?
I was at a hotel last week, which is something that I do from time to time. It was a great stay. It was pricier than perhaps other hotels but I’ve learned over the years that the last place you want to try and save money is on a hotel stay, or on food – or anything else that goes into your body. Save money on clothes or entertainment – laptops even. I buy cheap and replace when necessary but in the last ten years I’ve spent less on the three laptops I own than I would have spent on a new MacBook so … anyway.
I was leaving money for the housekeeper, after folding the towels over the edge of the bathtub, and making my bed – I’m weird I know. It was as I was cleaning my hotel room in preparation for checkout I remembered what I wanted to write about this week. It was about perceived value.
I want to say right here that my room and service at the hotel were excellent. The hotel is an excellent chain and I am always, always happy there regardless of city or country. Okay, once, we had an issue, in a faraway country, but when we reminded them about the name of their hotel chain and what it meant the problem immediately went away. Perhaps they were new. Anyway. Room cleanliness: 10/10. Service: 10/10. Food: 10/10. This post isn’t a critique. Okay, back on track.
Diane Gottsman, a travel etiquette expert who wrote the guide “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and founded The Protocol School of Texas told TPG that the bottom line is to be respectful to the individual who will be cleaning up after you.
“You should behave in the same manner as if you were [a] guest in someone’s house,” she explained. “Be delicate. Flush your toilet, clean up after yourself and don’t leave broken glass all over the floor.”
Why A Clean Bathroom is More Important than a Sandwich Carried From the Kitchen
At dinner, you pay a few hundred bucks for food and wine and are served by a hot-looking server who is well dressed and working in a chic space. Pretty cool job. As I said, I’ve been both a waiter and a chef and I can tell you it’s stressful but you make extra cash in tips so it’s well worth it. A lot of the time you never meet the person who cleans your room. Maybe you pass someone cleaning another room, but you rarely ever meet the person who has to clean your toilet.
People tip probably ten or fifteen percent for food and drink service. For what? I mean, the job of the server is stressful but they aren’t down on their knees cleaning your toilet, right? And, if push came to shove, opening your own wine is something you could do. In fact, you probably have at some time to show off. No? Okay, it’s just me then. Normally it’s not the start of a meal where I pull out my saber and try to cut off the top of the champagne bottle. Usually I’ve had a few before I try this, but, you get my point.
Cut back to me in the morning making the bed and straightening the TV remote before checking out. I left a few bucks for the housekeeper, but not as much as I tipped the server the previous night. Why? I always think about this. Honestly, the hotel housekeeper’s job is far less glamourous than the server downstairs in the Lavender Room Bar. It’s harder. It really sucks in comparison to being a server. The housekeeper isn’t as well dressed and they don’t get to enjoy the remains of the bottle of wine when I leave. Okay, maybe they do. If I had left any wine in the bottle. This is besides the point because I didn’t leave any open wine in the hotel room.
Back to my point. We all want a clean hotel room and especially a clean hotel room bathroom. We should be tipping the housekeepers 10 bucks to ensure they take their time and not wipe the toilet seat with a kleenex.
A clean and sanitary hotel room is very important to me. Much more important than someone opening my wine or carrying my sandwich from the kitchen. I can do that. I can clean too but I don’t really want to when I’m at a hotel. I want to relax. I’m reliant on the housekeeper to do their job much more than I am on the server.
We should tip more for the hard and dirty jobs than we do for the easier to do ones ones. We should also probably pay service workers more money period.
“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that as of May 2020, the median wage for waiters and waitresses was $11.42. But according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, tipped workers can make as little as $2.13 per hour. So, beyond acknowledging good work, tips are often what service workers live on and use to help pay the bills.
Tipping goes beyond an act of civility; it goes into an act of appreciation. Appreciation for the service that was performed, whether it was that person’s job. We all have a job, and we all perform it. We hope, though, in any job that we do, that people will recognize that we did good or bad.”
There is a Lot of Perceived Value that Goes into a Wage
Think about your own hourly wage. How much do you charge? How complex is the work? How urgent is it? What is the scope? Let’s compare our two hotel staff and how much we tipped them:
Bring sandwich from the kitchen and open wine:
complexity: 4 urgency: 7 scope: 3 tip: 5 bucks
Clean and sanitise hotel room:
complexity: 8 urgency: 10 scope: 6 tip: 2 bucks
I really think we should tip housekeepers more and servers less. If the housekeepers fail, we are going to be much unhappier than if the server fails. Worst case we can grab a snack from the deli across the street. I don’t want to have to bring rubber gloves and Mister Clean with me when I travel. Also, I want nice, clean sheets and a carpet that isn’t sticky.
Now. How much will you enjoy your job, or actually be able to do, without your students? How reliant are you on them? Probably a lot. And that’s why we should pay them more money.