Tipping


I went to the local deli to get lunch the other day. I made myself a salad from the salad bar, selecting the medium size plastic container, carefully choosing which items to add to the container (potato salad, yes; beets, no), and snapping the top in place. I took the filled container to the check out. The cashier, who is also the owner, put my plastic container in a plastic bag, added a plastic knife and fork and a napkin, took my five dollar bill and gave me 36 cents change. With 36 cents in my hand I now had a decision to make. Should I drop the change in the jar on the counter labeled ‘Tips’ with some scrolls and curlicues? Should I add additional coins to make the tip 10 or 15 percent? Should I skip the tip and put the coins in my pocket? It might be considerate or polite to tip, but what had the cashier, the owner, or the deli done to deserve a tip? Isn’t a tip supposed to be for service received? Does that include accepting payment for a salad you assembled yourself? Or is the tip supposed to show your appreciation for the quality of the components of the salad bar? Or the positive attitude of the staff and owners? Shouldn’t those things be included in the price of the items offered for sale by the deli? Maybe a tip is only appropriate if the staff makes a sandwich for you. Many questions.

The next day I found myself at Starbucks, buying a ‘Grande’ for $1.94. There, right by the register, was the Tip jar. $1.94 is pretty expensive for a cup of coffee, yet I was being asked, gently, to contribute an additional sum in the form of a tip. And I couldn’t just put the 6 cents change in the tip jar – too cheap; I would have had to come up with more change from my pocket. True, the tips are to benefit the hard working staff, many of whom are short on income and trying to build lives for themselves. But why should I be asked to subsidize the wages of folks working for a corporation making millions of dollars ($672,638,000 net income in 2007). If the tip is for service, what service did I get? Having someone fill up a paper cup with coffee so I could buy it, and then add my own milk, sugar, and top? Maybe a better tip would be to write to Starbucks suggesting the company pay a higher wage and get rid of the tip jars.

The most popular local coffee shop in town is a gold mine. People lined up all day for coffee and drinks, pastry, and sandwiches. The owner has good business sense and must be making a ton of money, probably doing better financially than many of the customers. Yet many of those customers are dropping money into the tip jar. I suppose that could be considered a sort of sliding scale pricing. You can increase the price you pay for your coffee or pastry if you feel you can afford to, or just pay the minimum if you feel the need to be more frugal. But I think even the limited income people – perhaps especially those folks because many of them may have been on the other side of the counter – feel they should contribute to the tips.

I went to the local ‘gourmet’  ice cream shop. Sure enough, there was the tip jar right next to the register. The next time I went to the same shop there was a line doubling around the counter and out the door. Too long a wait, so I went to the ice cream chain up the street. Quicker service, less pretension, lower prices, ice cream just as good, and no tip jar.

Why not tips at the Stop and Shop supermarket checkout? Those people do a lot of work for the purchaser, ringing up and bagging the groceries.

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Paella and Waste


Today’s waste story: It was lunch time at the financial behemoth in Hartford where I work. So I walked through the tunnel to the cafeteria in the home office building.  As I approached the food dispensing area a woman with a chef’s hat and a Spanish accent stopped me. It was Hispanic Heritage week and she was urging me to try a sample of paella. I’m not sure why – there was  nothing to buy like there usually is at Costco when free food samples are offered to shoppers. But I gladly took a small plastic cup of paella and a plastic fork.

I ate the paella as I continued the remaining few steps to the food area. Pretty good!  The paella consumed and the cup empty I looked for a place to dispose of my recently acquired sampling kit. Thoughtfully, the paella provider had located a trash can, dedicated to receiving the cups and forks, along the route to the food area. I tossed my utensils in and noticed that mine were not the first. In fact, the paella samples had generated a whole pile of abandoned plastic. And the lunch period was just starting. How casually all of us tasters accepted and disposed of our contribution to this growing pile of waste.

As you drive into Hartford, there is a huge hill beside the interstate – the landfill. Tomorrow it will be a little bigger after my discarded cup and fork have been added.

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Success!


When I started my other blog (http://danb99.blogspot.com/) I did not really think it would have much impact on national politics. Boy, was I was wrong! My first success was getting Republican Senator George Allen defeated (see my post 9/25, http://danb99.blogspot.com/2006/09/another-racist-republican-senator.html). Of course, his idiocy did not help him nor did the fact that Jim Webb, his opponent, turned out to be a decent guy with something worthwhile to say. But it was my blog post that made the difference, and resulted in the Democrats taking control of the Senate. 

I was pretty happy about that, but still underestimated the power of the (my) pen, or keyboard. Since Allen’s defeat, a bunch of Republicans have announced they would not run for reelection, lots of other Republicans have revealed themselves to be true hypocrites (Senator Craig comes to mind), and the probability of further Republican losses in Congress in 2008 has soared.  The Republican party is in shambles. The crumbling Republican juggernaut has given new meaning to the word fissiparous.

People don’t even talk much anymore about how bad Bush is. They are just waiting for him to go away.

So a word of advice to all you aspiring bloggers out there who lament the lack of readers and your failure to make an impact: don’t give up. You too can be someone special with a lot of clout!

Just write brilliant stuff, like I do, and eventually people will notice and you will become very influential. It happened to me; it could happen to you.

I’m taking on consumerism next.

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Success!


When I started this blog I did not really think it would have much impact on national politics. But I was wrong. My first success was getting Republican Senator George Allen defeated (see my post 9/25). Of course, his idiocy did not help him nor did the fact that Jim Webb, his opponent, turned out to be a decent guy with something worthwhile to say. But it was my blog post that made the difference, and resulted in the Democrats taking control of the Senate.

I was pretty happy about that, but still underestimated the power of the (my) pen, or keyboard. Since Allen’s defeat, a bunch of Republicans have announced they would not run for reelection, lots of other Republicans have revealed themselves to be true hypocrites (Senator Craig comes to mind), and the probability of further Republican losses in Congress in 2008 has soared.  The Republican party is in shambles. The crumbling Republican juggernaut has given new meaning to the word fissiparous.

People don’t even talk much anymore about how bad Bush is. They are just waiting for him to go away.

So a word of advice to all you aspiring bloggers out there who lament the lack of readers and your failure to make an impact: don’t give up. You too can be someone special with a lot of clout!

Just write brilliant stuff, like I do, and eventually people will notice and you will become very influential. It happened to me; it could can happen to you.

I’m taking on consumerism next.

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Fidelity Out of Sudan


I just sent the letter below to Fidelity in support of the Fidelity Out of Sudan campaign. See http://fidelityoutofsudan.googlepages.com/ for more details

 

Fidelity Investments
P.O. Box 770001
Cincinnati, OH 45277-0035

Dear Fidelity,

Please sell all shares of Fidelity Contrafund in account #xxxxx and invest the proceeds in Fidelity Cash Reserves.

Although I am pleased with the performance of Contrafund, I cannot continue to invest in a fund holding securities of companies such as PetroChina and China Petroleum that enable the genocidal policies of the government of Sudan.

I have contacted Fidelity previously to express my concern over your failure to divest from such companies. I plan to continue to work for the Fidelity Out of Sudan campaign by urging my friends, co-workers, employer, and family to learn about Fidelity’s position. I am also considering moving all my Fidelity investments to another company, such as Calvert, that does support the divestment goals.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel Burke

cc. Anne.Crowley@fmr.com

customer.email@fidelity.com

info@FidelityOutOfSudan.com

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Watch Darfur Burn


This is a criticism of the Republicans and a warning to the Democrats with their new Congressional power. The Republicans have done virtually nothing to stop the genocide in Darfur: the Democrats are showing few signs of doing better. This blog is dedicated to pointing out the failures and shortcomings of the Republicans. That does not prevent me from criticizing Dems as well, or anyone for that matter. Jim, you are an idiot!

Call your Democratic Representative and Senator, and ask for quick, meaningful action on Darfur.

In the meantime, to do something useful, visit http://darfurwall.org. Join with hundreds (soon to be thousands) of others.

the darfur wall

Everyone must do something about Darfur: it is not acceptable to decide to do nothing.

The Darfur Wall provides everyone with the option of doing something. You don’t want to look back 10 years from now and say “I should have done something about genocide in Darfur.” So do it now!

Do something or do nothing – your choice.

the darfur wall

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Republican Leaders Give Tacit OK to Congressman’s Sordid Activity


September 29, 2006

Well, which is worse?

1) Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley’s sordid, sleazy emails and instant messages, for which he was forced to quit, or

2) The fact that the Republican leadership, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, knew about Foley’s activities and did nothing to stop him.

Foley, who served in the House leadership as a deputy whip, sent sexually explicit Internet messages to teenage pages. In one message Foley asked, “What ya wearing?” The teenager replied, “Tshirt and shorts,” to which Foley replied, “Love to slip them off of you.” Other messages to teenage boys were more sexually explicit.

Foley also sent emails, using his personal email account – not his Congressional, work account – to a 16 year old boy who had returned home to Louisiana after working as a page for another Congressman. Foley asked the boy to send him a picture.

Foley has refused to say if he is gay and that is his right, as is his sexual orientation. But it is an abuse of power of the worst sort to make unwanted advances toward young men working for the institution of which Foley was a member and a leader.

As for the rest of the Republican leadership, they just looked the other way. Mr. Foley reportedly sent the messages to the first page in August 2005. The boy’s family contacted their congressman, Republican Rodney Alexander for whom the boy had worked. Alexander discussed the problem with Representative Thomas Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Reynolds said he told Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert about the scandal months ago. Hastert’s office passed the issue along to the Clerk of the House who informed Republican Representative John Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board. Shimkus said that he had known of the first e-mail messages in late 2005 – about one year ago, but he just accepted Foley’s assurance that Foley was simply acting as a mentor. Shimkus told Foley to “be especially mindful of his conduct” with pages. Hastert says he doesn’t even remember talking to Reynolds about the issue. Guess he couldn’t have considered it too important.

So here you have all these Republican leaders ignoring this blatantly inappropriate activity by Foley, passing the buck, doing virtually nothing to stop him, and then making excuses when the whole thing blows up. There still has been no announcement about whether there will be an investigation or whether the Republican leadership will just continue to do nothing.

I guess I’d say Foley’s activities were despicable and the Republican leadership’s lack of action is appalling. You decide which is worse.

For more detail see http://www.transatlan.com/never/sept_30_2006.html

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