Dollars and Sense

Because I’m superstitious, I tip better than custom dictates. I factor in how long I occupied the booth at my favorite diner and tack on a bonus for keeping others from sitting in my spot even if there was no one waiting. If the bill is particularly small, my baseline 20% has been known to bump up to 50%.

I come at this from all the woo woo proclamations of abundance, thinking if I give a little extra maybe I’m upping my chances for good karma. Yes, I know that’s contrary to the concept of giving without expecting return. Yes, I know. But still. It’s like all those people who attach disclaimers to the chain letters they forward. They know it’s wrong but they keep doing it. At least those who wait on me in restaurants benefit from my neurosis.

And then there's my guilt of not needing to stand in a breadline, which prompts further generosity. While I currently wear the label of ‘Increasingly Downwardly Mobile,’ I still have it better than most. I have options, the freedom to chase dreams, the knowledge that when push comes to shove, I can plunk down a credit card and deal with it later. Luckily, at this point, later is usually just when the credit card bill arrives. I really don’t live beyond my means.

But all the muttering of financial fear is chipping away at my notion of security. It helps when I think of friends living with enormous debt and rationalize that if they can stay afloat so can I. But that’s insensitive and naïve of me. We can all sink together. But to get philosophical, if everyone sinks, is it still sinking? How about, ‘Sinking is the new normal’?

Trying to live freelance in a panicked economy is comical. Can I really go forward and promote a new photography business designed to supplement my pittance of earnings as a writer? I don’t even believe my sales pitches of why it is critical that I take your holiday card photo. (Holiday cards…yeah, right. Have you seen the price of postage and ink and paper and pens??)

But I also must discuss those whining about the economy who have such an abundance of cash and resources that the only way their daily lives are being affected by this downturn is in their conversations and the fluctuation of their heart rate when they open their investment statements. They can still afford every dream they’ve ever had. They have not even come close to being knocked down to normal, but many of them are the ones complaining the loudest. Am I really to believe that those with millions in the bank can’t afford Christmas this year? I’m no economist (obviously) but I simply want to holler at those crying poor who are anything but.

It is the charities that these often generous folks give to that I pity. They’re the real losers as philanthropists see their resources shrink and thus must pull back on giving. And of course I think of the trickle down effect, of the employees of struggling corporations, those facing all the layoffs.

But if you’re one of the ones with excess money in the bank (my definition of ‘excess,’ not yours; my blog, my rules) go out and do some spending. Help that small business or even that large one with a long list of employees. Fuel this ailing economy. Consider it your call to duty.

And if you need some photos…

‘Nough said.


kristen said...

i thought about the expense this year of doing holiday cards as i was in line yesterday at the post office.

i decided this year, more than ever, we definitely needed to send some cheer.

i hope people come to you for photos thinking the same!

Girlplustwo said...

i like this philosophy, especially to service industry workers.

and don't even get me started on the weirdness of less resources and more need. folks can't buy bread. families showing up at shelters for a free meal. and funders holding on tight to their pocketbooks. (i so love the word pocketbook).

crazymumma said...

I worked in the service industry for years and it does not matter what the economy is doing. People still need to eat and want to drink.

The money is good. Especially with customers like you!

Emily said...

This year we are doing an ALL charity holiday. We have a three part giving plan for Christmas. All gifts must benefit the giver's heart, the giftee's needs/wants, and a third party (meaning a charitable organization, a small Mom and Pop shop, the person who handmade the gift, etc...)
It has been really fantastic to involve my daughters in this creatively.

S said...

increasingly downwardly mobile -- yep. that's us, too.

much food for thought here. thank you.

deezee said...

emily, I love that model!

slouching mom, we could start a club. of course, with no dues.

- deezee

Maggie, Dammit said...

I tip the same way.

I can't figure out yet which way I fall in the economic spiral, which must automatically make me one of the better-off ones. So, shop? I can do that. And I'll keep on over-tipping, too.

Willie Baronet said...

Well said, as usual. Of course you're preaching to the choir. I'm in touch with my inner socialist. :-)

And I hope to be your waiter real soon!

Anonymous said...

I wish you the best with your new photography business. In an sluggish economy, we need new ideas, new ways of doing things... a bit of creative inspiration. Consider it your call to duty.

Timmy said...

Yeah we can sink together baby! I've been hearing all sorts of nervous chatter about the economy. I would love to go into another depression, then we'd all see that love is what really matters. I think that would be great. The jobs of the future are helping people. Oh and I love tipping big too. On Friday my English teacher and I went out to lunch to chat and left the waitress a %100 tip(bill was $45) and she came out telling us we left too much. We told her she's buying a big turkey this year. Isn't life amazing?? :]
If you don't mind i'm making you my first blog on my "Sties I Follow" list.

deezee said...

timmy, welcome to my blogland. follow away. (I guess that means I'll have to actually do some writing over here!)

and I love that mega tip you left. warms my heart. :)

- deezee

Woman in a Window said...

I have to say I over think tips. I usually can't afford the meal (or the hair cut) and hang myself over the bill suddenly dumb to multiplication. Then I give slightly more than 15% 'cause I know how it feels to be on the bottom end and how $5 can make a difference.

All said, we're hanging on and we're spending as much and as little as always for Christmas. My kids are young and life is good. As long as we're all eating, right?