Monday, October 30, 2006

Here's a tip for you.

Be a good tipper.

As many people who wait tables in the world, you'd think the Word would be carved in stone by now. But here it is.

If you are waited on, you tip decently. Period. The End.

Maybe I'm a wee bit prejudiced, having been on the other side of the aisle myself. But I do think this: under-tipping your server is a vile act.

One of my movie-going joys is recalling the scene at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs wherein Steve Buscemi's character is called on his lousy tipping. (Don't remember it? See the movie. My nightmares {of Michael Madsen} have almost gone away.)

Sure, in Europe they just add in on the bill. And maybe servers should get paid decent wages instead of relying on tips. And maybe they declare their tips, or not. It's all excuses, aka bullshit.

You like the European plan? Eat out there. Servers don't get paid decent wages. And what they do with them is none of your business. Capiche?

It's the cost of eating out. If you can't handle the cost, you shouldn't be scamming the restaurant. You should go to a fast food place and eat in your car so no one can see what bad manners you have. That's the social contract. Don't like it? Then march in the streets, put out petitions, become a labor lobbyist. But don't take your whining bullshit excuses to the table where someone waits on you and then stiff them on the tip. It's baaaaad karma.

Because what is comes down to is this: the server is waiting on you. And depending on your largesse. There aren't any laws about it. So what it comes down to is the kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person who takes advantage? Who will take the work of serving you as a given and not pay for it?

Hmmmm. Let's see how you act when the chips are down. That's the measure of a person's character. How do you stack up?

Because some people do take advantage of the fact that servers are polite to everyone and are struggling to make everyone happy. There are some bad service people out there. But stiffing them on the tip is not the way to go. You call over the manager and politely explain the problem and leave it up to them. That's the way to handle it. Because, believe me, everyone knows when someone isn't cut out for the work, because they pile the work on everyone else and they are, one way or another, soon gone.

Many Visible Christians(TM) are terrible tippers, and have added a new, atrocious, wrinkle to this already un-Christ-like behavior: the practice of leaving tracts that look like money at the table instead of a tip.

Gee. How would you feel if you took a job and at the end of the week you got a tract instead of your paycheck? And what if you worked for someone who wasn't of your faith, and left you a tract for their faith in leiu of money? Uh huh. I know in my heart that Jesus not only tipped at least 18% after the Last Supper, he also said please and thank you.

Because that's the kind of guy he was.

So whatever your reason for thinking that you, precious YOU, is exempt from the social contract while dining out, let me be the first to inform you that you are not THAT special. The way it works is: the server waits on you and you tip for that service. The restaurant gets its money for the room, the decor, the cooks & their helpers, the meat & two veg, and all the other stuff you enjoy while dining out. That's the way it works. If you don't like it, don't dine out.

Because it's really about the kind of person you are. When there aren't any laws about it. Get it?

The Stained Apron: Listen to the other side of the table.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Breaking the Unbelief

I was laid up with a nasty case of flu today, and my usual pattern is to re-read good books and re-watch good movies. Given the short attention span that runs concurrent with feeling crappy, it's the most soothing thing I can do for my brain.

So I re-watched Fargo with as much delight as I have the uptyump other times I've watched it. And this time the scene where the wife gets kidnapped had a special resonance.

She's sitting on the couch, knitting and watching one of those cheerful morning shows. Through the patio doors, she can see a man in a ski mask, carrying a crowbar, climb onto her deck.

And she just watches him.

Because she is already a victim, a victim of Unbelief. She's a well-off housewife in an upscale Minneapolis suburb, and the figure of a masked man with a crowbar on her own deck does not compute. Her brain simply refuses to process it.

It isn't until he breaks the glass that she reacts.

And that's what I hope is happening now.

I, too, reacted with unbelief to the beginning salvos of the Republican Party vs. Everything Good & Decent. I remember how slowly it washed over me that these people didn't care. About security, about safety, about fiscal responsibility and the Armed Forces and the Constitution, about the elderly, about children, about morality.

Because it was hard to believe. It goes against everything we want to believe. But it was undeniably true.

I got over it relatively quickly. But a lot of the country was still mired in it. They couldn't believe it. While some were able to jump around and scream There's a masked man on the deck with a crowbar!, waaaaay too many were still making excuses for the Republicans.

But now the patio door has been broken.

That's the real impact of the Foley Scandal. The Republicans aren't acting any differently than they ever did; reflexively blaming Democrats while simultaneously claiming it just isn't that bad, everybody is getting all shrill about nothing.

But after Katrina, the whole Middle Eastern Mess, and seeing our President massaging the shoulders of the German chancellor like a tipsy salesman copping a feel at the Christmas party, I think those same people were starting to build up some water pressure behind that brain dam that keeps back Thoughts We Don't Want to Believe.

And once it goes, it goes. All the doubts flood in, from every corner they've been hiding. The cheated on spouse can keep denial up for quite a long time, but once the Unbelievable is Believed, all the pent up power is unleashed. That's what leads to running over one's husband several times with a Mercedes.

I think, I hope, I wish the Foley scandal is that dam buster, that denial cracker, that shocking revelation that just hits too hard for the dam to withstand.

Because most people don't know about Foreign Policy, airline safety, and Constitutional rights. They don't know how to make up their own minds, and are vulnerable to letting others make up their minds for them. Say the right things, and most people won't notice that they aren't doing the right things.

But there isn't a parent in America who doesn't know about Sexual Predators on the Internet. The Republicans have been hammering on it and whipping up legislation against it and the media has been running specials on it for years.

On this subject, people feel capable of making up their own minds.

And they will.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'll take "Hypocrisy" for 8 Million, Alex

Mark Foley (R, Florida), a former chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, used the Internet to solicit sex from teenaged male Congressional pages.

In an irony no novelist would dare try, he recently sponsored the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act of 2006, with increased penalties for adults who use the Internet to discuss or solicit sexual acts with "minors" (defined as an "individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.")

Freud is vindicated! I firmly believe there are few instances in the history of humankind that screams "Projection Defense Mechanism" as much as this one does.

Projection. Attributing to others one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts and/or emotions.

And wait! There's more! The Instant Messaging in question was released to the public! Thus dynamiting, with extreme prejudice, any possible hope of spinning this as friendly interest or "my mentoring attempts were misconstrued."

It's clear that Foley understands he was wrong, and, now caught, he is remorseful. (Probably about being caught.)

But the Republican Congressional Leadership is where the deliberate cluelessness lies. At a minimum, they knew about the three emails that were brought to their attention last year. And did, basically, nothing.

And all the spin in the world can't conceal the facts.

Either they are so negligent that they didn't care Foley was preying on pages, and thus should not be trusted with the running of the goverment,


they are so stupid that they didn't know Foley was preying on pages, and thus should not be trusted with the running of the goverment.

I can't think of a third alternative.