Grrr! Keep the Change

Tipping in this country has gotten way out of control.

Just a few columns ago, I Grrr'd the infamous bathroom valet, who wipes the water off the sink and turns the water on for you after you use the restroom at a fancy restaurant or club.

He, or she, has a tip jar.

See? It's gotten so out of control that even when performing the most basic human function, someone's there waiting for a tip.

Barbers get tips, but at least they charge a reasonable fee for their services. Hair stylists, on the other hand, charge ridiculous fees for haircuts, colorings, blow-outs, perms, whatever — and then expect to be tipped after the fact.

That's all well and good, but after a haircut or a coloring, there are numerous people expecting to be tipped.

The shampooer wants a tip for that nice scalp massage he or she gave you. The coat check person who handed you the fancy robe expects to be tipped for hanging up your coat. And if you had a coloring, normally there's a color "artist" there, also expecting a tip.

A $65 haircut can easily end up costing you $90 after tipping.

I'll stick with my $12 barber, to whom I happily give $5. I figure I'm way ahead.

Video: The Real Deal ... hairdresser crowned Miss FHM '05.

Ever get a massage? After paying $130 for one at a spa, you're expected to tip at least another $25. Nail salon workers also expect tips. Aren't we paying enough already? I can't believe that after charging so much money for services, these types of establishments can't afford to pay their workers decent wages.

And then there's the coffee shop barista. Whether its Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks or The Coffee Beanery, tip jars are permanent fixtures on the counters.

Could you imagine your grandparents tipping for a cup of coffee to go? Doubtful. They'd probably dip their hand in the tip jar when they came up a few pennies short, thinking it is a "leave a penny/take a penny" feature.

Ice cream counters also have tip cups at the ready.

Restaurants feature your waiters, wine servers, hosts and hostesses, coat check person and bartenders. Now, most maitre d's don't expect tips, but the bartender who served you before the meal while you were waiting for a table gets a tip. Of course, the waiter gets a tip. The sommelier gets a tip. Even the busboy sometimes garners a tip.

But at least in restaurants, people should be expecting to tip. Doesn't mean they have to like it.

The real ironic tip expectation is the card dealer at the casino.

Believe it or not, the majority of the money casino dealers earn is in tips. But just why are you throwing the dealer a $5 or $25 chip after he deals you blackjack?

The dealer doesn't control the cards, so it's not like he did you a favor because he figures you're gonna tip him. And he's certainly not going to give you half your bet back when you break, that's for sure.

Still, some dealers will give you betting tips when you go to make a questionable move, like hitting on 19. In those cases, it's customary to give a tip, because you would have lost money otherwise. However, if you're hitting on 19, you should quit while you are ahead.

Broadway ushers are union workers and generally don't get tips, but they don't turn them away either. I've even seen drive-thru fast food clerks with tip cups sitting on the window sill. It's unbelievable.

And since the holidays are upon us, 'tis the season for tipping.

Doormen and supers at big-city apartment buildings expect handsome tips. The mailman or woman expects a tip. The newspaper delivery man or woman expects a tip. The UPS guy and the Fed Ex guy get tips. The garbage man even gets a tip.

Even your local place of worship gets extra tips at Christmas. The collection baskets see a major increase of donations because all of the people who only attend church on Christmas and Easter throw in extra dough because they feel guilty for being fair-weather worshippers.

If you don't believe me, try arriving just before Mass on Christmas Eve and see if you get a parking spot.

Bloggers and other open-source software developers also ask for tips if you use their Web sites. Of course, those tips go to paying for the upkeep of the site — but it's still a tip.

The point is, all of the tip jars you see these days are only out there because enough of us do tip. There's nothing wrong with that, but when you're in need of a little extra flow, who's going to tip you when you do your job well?

Click here for your Grrrs

Respond to Mike | Grrr! Lexicon

VIDEO: Watch Mike on "The Real Deal" webcast.