Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Little Help From My Friends

One thing I wish I had that I don't have is something you may all be shocked (or horrified) to know that I don't have. I have no etiquette guide in my library! No Emily Post; no Miss Manners. This must be remedied in the near future. But until then, I have a couple of questions I could use your help with. You don't have to own an etiquette guide yourself, just tell me what you think is acceptable and perhaps we can pull a general consensus ruling.

1) Tipping Frank, or any stylist for that matter. What is the going rate on tipping your hair dude? Why is there a tip when you are already paying upwards of $40 on less than an hour's worth of work?! I mean, I love Frank, but he doesn't come cheap! What is a good percentage? Or better yet, on my last $42 haircut, what should I have tipped? What would you have tipped? Feel free to give two answers- one for least acceptable, one for generous. I tend to want to be generous. But for all I know I could be the client he dreads for my skimpy tips. Hey, he knows my husband is a student, and that I can only afford to come every three or four (or in this last case, six!) months! But some day I'll be able to afford more, so don't factor the student thing in. Let's just hope he does!

2) This one is tricky to put into words. You know how parents are always telling their children things like not to touch someone else's baby or not to play with someone else's toys etc.? So when it's your baby or your children's toys and you really don't mind, is it gracious and polite to say the knee jerk "Oh, that's okay!" Or is it actually pretty rude because you're getting in the way of the parent instructing their child? A friend of mine has a sweet little boy who loves babies and was playing with Elspeth. She told him to leave her alone and I, trying to be polite, said it was fine for him to play with her. Then he did something that made her cry, which I still didn't mind, but I think it actually upset the little boy that he upset the baby. And if you were that mom wouldn't you be totally annoyed with me for interfering? Oh, that situation, or one like it, comes up almost daily. What is the polite and helpful thing to do? I guess I should just not interfere, but sometimes it seems like the mom probably would love for me to step in so she doesn't have to make her child be on the best behavior when I am indifferent to the situation.

3) Teachers' gifts. So this is sort of along the lines of tipping. But I need help with this pretty quick because the last day of school is on Wednesday. Every year or so at Christmas, a list shows up in various magazines of appropriate gifts for all manner of people in one's community: the "letter carrier" (is that the PC term at this point? I wonder if all the packages and catalogs aren't offended?), the superintendent of your apartment building (or complex- hint hint. Ha ha, I'm totally kidding!), hair stylist (there it is again), babysitters, and teachers, just to name a few. So I am usually kind of surprised by how much people think we should spend on the mailman's Christmas gift (especially seeing as how we usually try to set somewhere around a $15-$20 limit on parents and siblings!)! And the question becomes, "is it tackier to do too little than to do nothing at all?" For example, if you don't leave a tip at Cracker Barrel, maybe you just forgot. But if you leave 3 pennies or something, well, that's just mean! So is it okay that I just bake cookies for the mailman every year? Or is that just a big smack in the face and I shouldn't do anything? And for teachers at the end of the year. What is appropriate? I tend to think a little something is okay. What do y'all do for your kids' teachers? Or if you are/were a teacher, what's going on there?

Anyone can comment. I would love to get some feedback on this. Sorry about all the Lost posts. They're gone now. And last year it was American Idol. So I think transferring my obsession to Lost shows that I've matured. No, it shows nothing (except maybe that I only watch three shows on TV regularly anymore. And how much can you really say about The Office and Scrubs?). Well, we're off TV and back to more general interest topics. So come out from the shadows! Let me hear what you have to say.

9 comments:

RHB said...

I tend to leave a $5 tip with the hairdresser, but that is usually for 3 hours of work- cutting and coloring or for just a cut. Either way, I just give them five bucks and hope see the pattern. I find percentage tips a bit awkward. Just sharing what I did- don't know if it's really correct or not.

In the way of teachers gifts- homemade goodies are great! I still use the spiced tea mix and mocha hot chocolate mix that a couple of students gave me. And I have a jar of dried chicken noodle soup in my pantry in case I get in a pinch. Maybe I should go ahead and throw those out as I haven't taught in oh, about 3 years now. :) Anyway, I think it is the thought that counts- not the price!

Anonymous said...

i'm usually a $5 tip kinda gal for haircuts until someone told me you're supposed to leave 20% plus a tip for the person who washes your hair. all that to say, i aim to get my hair cut once a year now since my stylist went up to about $50 for a wet cut! i think homemade gifts are the most special (especially your baked creations!) and show more thought and heart. you can wrap 'em up fun, too, to show some added personality. oh, and i'm so excited about pam and jim! i just thought that was such a sweet ending to the finale.
-wp

Brit said...

Look what I found! http://lifestyle.msn.com/familyandparenting/raisingkids/articlesc.aspx?cp-documentid=4895618>1=10014

:)

Matt Churnock said...

I only tip for service beyond what they should do. The fact that you called him a hair dresser means he cuts your hair, that is his job. Now if he helped smock a dress or took out your trash then you should probably give him something as a tip.

But I am not normal...

As far as a teachers gift, I would give them three months off from teaching my child...wait, they already get that, we should just call it a wash.

Again, I am not normal...
or kind...

lauren said...

1. i usually do 10-15% for the hair tip. i always give $2 for the hair washer. but i'm a big tipper b/c i waited tables for 7 years.

2. i think what you did is ok...confession here...i always say loudly, "ellie, don't touch the baby", so the mom hears and knows i'm in the club of moms who do not let their older kids put their hands all over the stranger's newborn. ;) then if she's comfortable with it, she'll say so and invite her to come closer. but i still make sure she doesn't touch her hands. one thing you might want to say is, "if he/she's not sick, it's fine to play with the baby". you never know if they are just trying to keep their kid away b/c they have a virus or something.

3. i have an easy cop out for that one...i do stationery usually for teacher gifts. as a teacher's wife, homemade gifts are sweet, but around the holidays, honestly we tend to get an overload of sweets that we sometimes give away. but i don't think that would be a problem at the end of the year. one of the best gifts we get are any kind of gift card. seriously, even if it's $5-10 to starbucks, hey, that's a date night for us! and don't worry about what people say you should spend. just spend what is in your budget and they will totally appreciate it. we've received a wide range of gifts from a $100 gift card to the summit to a little cross ornament that we cherish every time we hang it on our tree! teachers are just grateful you thought about them, not keeping track of what you spent on them, so don't stress about it at all. ;) hope that helps!!! email me if you want more ideas!

jennifer said...

I think you're getting great ideas re: the haircuts and the baby dos and don'ts.

I also appreciate Lauren's comments about the teacher's gifts. I try to do what we can afford, and with 3 kids in school and one in pre-school, it isn't much! I have found that my kids' teachers have appreciated gift cards of any amount the most, especially when you know that they love Starbucks or Borders or wherever.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question that's stumped me recently: If someone gives you a gift as a thank-you for doing something for them, do you then have to turn around and write them a thank-you note? Recently, a friend gave me some beautiful linen hand towels as a thank-you for transporting her son from school. Normally, I would always write a thank-you, but didn't know if a thank-you gift necessitated a thank-you note. Anyone?

elizabeth

Abby said...

Excellent question! On the one hand, something I remember that a friend told me is that a note is always better than no note. She said it in reference to me feeling like I might be sending the note too long after the kindness I was expressing gratitude for. I thought that was a good thing to remember. But I wouldn't ever write a note for a note. Ha! I don't know, man. Because on the other hand,I am willing to bet you thanked her at the time and I am sure that was thanks enough. I can say that if I were your friend I would certainly not anticipate a thank you note; it would be a surprise to get one (but a nice surprise!). And while I don't keep tabs on such things, I am generally not surprised to receive thank yous for gifts just because I have such A+ classy friends ;)

Abby said...

oh by the way, thanks for the teacher gift ideas and the tipping comments. i feel better about my tip now. and i went with baked goods and a small gift card. i did biscotti and cookies and thought about coffee. amabel's teacher is so young and is single that i thought coffee might not be as exciting to her. so i did a barnes and noble card so she can get coffee in the cafe if she wants or a book or magazines if she doesn't. thanks for the ideas! i feel pretty good about my entrance into the world of teacher gift-giving!

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