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Little Extra

This time my internet journey took me to a site about money - making it, keeping it, spending it and, to my surprise, one brief article about sharing it.

You’re probably thinking charitable contributions and, in a way, you are right. It was a guide to tipping during the holiday season - the annual little-something-extras you don’t want to forget.

I clicked. (That’s how internet journeys work - click first, think later.) A snappy slide show started that reminded me of those picture-heavy "See Spot run" books in grade school.

The opening photo was an old guy in a sable fur-trimmed Santa suit holding a big stack of crisp bills. The guide, I learn, is from the Emily Post Institute and the Protocol School of Texas (definitely another journey there). They urge me not to forget those “who are often out of sight and out of mind”, like my garbage collectors . . . the ones I wave to every time I see them.

Okay. I have my loose change bowl and I’m ready (trust me . . . it’s a LOT of change). I need to remember to tip:

  • My au pair. They say I will probably know who this is, particularly if they live with me. I checked the house to be sure - no au pair. Then I checked online and learned that an au pair is between a babysitter and a surrogate parent. We don’t have children, but my wife sometimes thinks I could use a babysitter. Anwyay, on to . . .
  • My dog walker. The photo was one guy, nine dogs, city sidewalk. One pocket was bulging with either a smart phone or French cigarettes, the other with what I assume was a gross of small plastic bags. We don’t have a dog anymore, so I have to pass on this one too. But, when the neighbor’s dog follows me on my long walks am I THEIR dog walker, even though there’s no leash and my stern voice commands get, at best, an annoyed glance? Just tuck the tip under her collar please.
  • My hair stylist. I would tip, and tip big, if I had any hair left. My wife usually trims my thin gray fringe, my guard against the comb-over temptation. But every so often I do treat myself to a wonderful snip session from a talented pro who makes me feel, for a moment, like I still have my locks of yesteryear. I do tip her, but now I feel like a cheapskate because the advice is about tipping the entire salon.
  • My gardner. The guide starts with, “If you only have one” then quickly moves to tipping your "gardening crew". But there’s no picture of a garden in this tipping tip - just a lawnmower, so this apparently is about non-gardening gardners. Should I tip my spouse when she mows and then ask her to give it back when I do?
  • My housekeeper. Oh, how I wish. But when I checked for an au pair I also found no one dealing with our tumbleweed-sized dust bunnies. My friends in the city had a housekeeper. I think she came on Tuesdays because every Monday they were busy getting ready for the housekeeper by cleaning house. "Just a touch up" they would call it.
  • My personal trainer. The photo is of a woman with a perfect body working the weights, trying to keep her eyes from drifting down to her smashingly handsome trainer-guy’s rippling sixpack. I can’t relate to her, but they guy is pretty much how I imagine I look at the fitness center. I’ve never had someone show me how to actually work out - I just try to keep up with Bud Hover on the weights and then spend a few days healing. But I do eavesdrop on training sessions - should I tip them?
  • Mail carrier. For some secret reason, mail is delivered to far corners of this long, weather-filled valley but it is not delivered in town, where I now live. So, I have no carrier. But it is a pretty good walk from the sort table to the post office boxes so maybe I should slip those folks a little something? And now I’m feeling terrible for never tipping the rural route carriers who brought me my bills for years. I’d make that right if I could remember who they were.
  • My building staff. I guess that would be my wife again, since it’s just the two of us here. But I’ll have to ask her for the money from our account first. And now I'm thinking how good a white-gloved doorman would look hanging out in our entry and hailing the senior bus for me a little later on.
  • My massage therapist. Something we definitely DO have here in the valley. I hope they get a mountain of tips because whenever I try to give my wife a massage I feel like I just spent an hour at the fitness center trying to keep up with the big guy. Unfortunately I have no massagist of my own because massages involve, well, someone else actually touching you.
  • My child’s teacher. Wow. Having no children makes it hard to tip during the holidays. I guess all I can do is keep voting for the school levies and giving thousands in taxes to the good cause. But now I’m wondering . . . did my parents tip my teachers? Do you, like, slip them a fifty right after they tell you your son has “some attention and motivation issues”?
  • My nurse. Yikes, I didn’t see this one coming. Now I’m not sure what to do. Tape a twenty to the blood draw location? Badger my insurance company into paying them more of their submitted charges? Buy them an accurate scale, because the one they have always shows I’m too heavy.
  • My garbage collector. Ah. Finally a hit—the Tuesday miracle workers who whisk away my yucky trash and damning evidence. You are the winners of the change bowl. All you have to do to get it is let me ride the big arm thingy that picks up the plastic “cans”. Thank you. Happy holidays.


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