December 30th, 2008

Blow My Mind

I don't even work for tips, and I'm annoyed by this.

There’s a Burger King radio commercial for some rapidly prepared food that’s supposedly so good and upscale, says the ad, that you’ll want to leave a tip. The ad then has two people busting their minds trying to figure out how much to tip (“Okay, carry the 1…”), followed by the announcer guy saying Hey! You actually don’t have to tip!

And come to think of it, in the same vein there’s a new Taco Bell TV commercial where a guy leaves a tip at an espresso cart, but another guy tells him the change he left would be enough for some other rapidly prepared food at Taco Bell, so the first guy takes back his change from the tip jar and tells the server “All you did was push a button.”

Now first of all, tipping is GOOD FREAKIN’ ETIQUETTE. Second, tipping is NOT THAT HARD TO FIGURE OUT. Even I say and know that, and I’m no math whiz. The steps I take are thus:

1. Look at your price.
2. Move the decimal point to the left one space. That’s 10% of your purchase.
3. Double that. That’s 20%. (I first used the word “multiply,” but realized I could say it more simply – simpler! – than that.)

Spent $39.75 on a meal? 10% is $3.97; round off to $4.00 for simplicity. Double that is $8.00. You paid $12.96? 10% is $1.30 (with the rounding), double that is $2.60. Want to tip 15%? What’s half of $1.30? 65 cents. That makes it $2.05.

As someone who’s good at over-complicating stuff, I’m proud I keep this SIMPLE. ’Cause it is. Tens and halves are simple, really. (…John Rickey’s lack of math skills notwithstanding. “Decimals are just tens,” as G-Man once told him. This has been a plug for docbrite’s Rickey and G-Man stories.)

And it’s another reason I like Kevin Smith. Not only is he smart, funny, and profanely sweet (a skill not everyone has), but he came from retail, and now that he’s rich, whenever he’s in a tipping situation, he tips 50%. Five-zero, not one-five. It’s one way to give back. He does this even when the service is lousy; he knows that’s sometimes completely not the server’s fault.

Tipping is Good Karma. That’s truth I got from the side of a tip jar. (Truth I got from the side of a tip jar. That could be a lyric.)
Good Omens

Discretion, Chris, is the better part of not being a jackass.

Today I unfortunately was skilled at thinking of stuff that would make me angry.

Chris, stop that.

Also? Believing something does not mean always saying you believe that. There's a term: "Deferential silence." You can remember it. (Heck, even Harlan Ellison remembers it.)

I'm being cryptic...except to myself, and I'm the only one who has to be non-cryptic about this.

But it's here on my blog as a reminder.

The Ambience of Smoke

"Ambience": there's something smoky, something cloud-like, about the word. It's an enveloping, encompassing word. It's a word I like. I also like that subject line: The Ambience of Smoke could be a title.

I'm now waxing poetic about Dot's Cafe. Tonight I went there for the first time; I'd decided yesterday that I should go at least once before the smoking ban takes effect January 1st, or, as it's also known this year, Thursday. Be in a smoky bar/restaurant combo, why not, I'd decided.

It's a bar/restaurant combo that had Sixties-era Spock and Bond on the walls, Queen on the sound system, and Reubens on the menu. Plus at least a little more vegetarian than you'd've found on a menu in the Sixties, but that's to be expected in Portland this decade. The place was at least three-quarters full with customers, warm in the low light. I braved sitting near the door in the single two-person table I found open; I wasn't in the mood to sit at the bar. (I wasn't in the mood to drink, either, which is good because I drove there.) I ordered -- a Reuben and a "small" fries, but that order of fries was big enough to need its own tray -- and then bounced my attention between the walls, the customers, and Stephen King's The Colorado Kid.

There's no dramatic twist here. I ate, I had water, I read. I then paid, tipped well, and headed home.

If I've read my maps correctly, Dot's would've been a casualty of the Mount Hood Freeway that was planned for SE Portland until a lot of Portlanders vowed to stop it, so Dot's should also survive not being able to have smokers anymore two days from now. It's likely built up a plenty good karma supply.

I'll go back sometime, in my slow Pluto-like circuit of Portland's eateries. It's likely to be the sort of place that'll still smell smoky.