Monday, May 15, 2006

The battle.....

Now that I am here in Panama City with the S.O. we are eating out in earnest at restaurants. Last week we were at my parents, so I cooked. This week finds me having to endure what I always do with her when we are in the US, the battle over the tip.

A word of explanation is in order. Tipping is not done in Japan. Oh you pay for the service all right, but the expense is rolled into the cost of your meal. Waiters and Waitresses are paid a flat salary that normally is somewhere between 850-1000 yen per hour ($7.75-9.50 per hour). When you leave the restaurant, there is no mental math, you just pay what's on the check, get your change and leave, with a cheery arigato gozaimashita from the staff.

Well of course it does not work that way here. And having to pay a tip, just bugs the s**t out of the S.O. She hates it. Why I am not sure since I'm the one paying for our meals out of MY money.

Nonetheless, she will grab the check when it comes and on at least one occasion I have seen her pull out her pocket calculator to figure out exactly what 10 and 15% are and given any choice at all, she will err to the low side when rounding to the nearest dollar. One time I had to slap her hands when she went back and tried to pull money off the table after I had left the tip and walked away.

Now as you might guess I have a different philosophy, which is tip your barmaid well, it will come in handy later in getting her to forget any indiscretions later in the evening. (Like asking her for her phone number or when does she get off.....).
I tend to value good service and / or large breasts in making my tip decision. (Gay waiters are at a disadvantage from the start). Especially when I am on travel and getting paid per diem, it just does not bother me to leave a little extra especially when the restaurant is packed and the girl is working hard.

I've tried to explain how waiters are paid here, and how its really not that big a deal, but it just does not matter. It just bothers her. She especially hates tipping in other circumstances, like tipping the bellboy in a hotel who has lugged her heavy bag into the room...........from her standpoint she paid for it when she checked in.

Its just one of those Mars/ Venus things that will never be resolved. And truth be told I like the Japanese system much better, since I've never had bad service in a Japanese restaurant. And its not considered rude to say "Sumimasen" even when the poor girl is running around at top speed. ( The S.O. has that down to a science too....). But it just does not bother me to tip so much.

Ought to be interesting tomorrow night, when we go to a really nice restaurant with some of the other folks in training here. She also does mental math when it comes to splitting the check..............but that's another story.

Maybe I should just let her pay her own meals....what do you think?


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