Here's a Holiday Tip… or 20.

Before you start complaining about how many people you need to shop for and spend your hard-earned money on this holiday season, be thankful you don’t also have to include 20 doormen. (I know, I know, it’s better to give than to receive, that’s besides the point here.)

Cons to living in a huge luxury high-rise in the NYC area (sung to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas”): 5 porters, 3 security guards, 3 concierge, 3 doormen, 2 hallmen (no idea what this job entails), 1 engineer, 1 handyman, and 1 resident manager. All hoping for (possibly expecting) a tip for the holidays. I do appreciate their services, in fact the staff in my building is mostly awesome, first-class, and cordial. However I’m not so tickled by the letter we received under our door last week:

Dear Resident… (I’ve summarized) We’ve “outlined a procedure for the giving of holiday gratuities to your building staff” (speaking about themselves in 3rd person, nice.) You may present your “gifts” aka cash money in person or deliver them to the resident manager (who is kind of a tool at times) for distribution. And you need to include your names and unit numbers (so then they know who to open doors for more promptly and who deserves more hospitality for the following year?)

The letter goes on to say that we can give however much money we want, based on our experiences with the staff. They suggest awarding the best ones, and that anything we give will be “humbly” appreciated. And then of course, they wish us a very prosperous New Year (the better to tip them next year I suppose.)

Are you kidding me? Don’t they make a good living? Aren’t most of them in a union? Doesn’t our building cost enough, including the few hundreds in condo fees paid every month? And now we’re supposed to tip them all?

I probably sound like an ice queen right now, but I was just taken aback by the letter. I was planning to tip the ones I interact with on a daily basis, and including a picture of all 20 staff members was a helpful touch, but why not just send the photo as a holiday greeting card by itself? It’s hard to put faces to names at times, so the photo was nice, and I think I’m smart enough to use envelopes and put each staffer’s name on it. But for them to tell me what to do via letter equals major turn off, minor insult.

I looked up tipping etiquette:
Superintendent – $20 to $80 or a gift

Doorman – $15 to $80; $15 or more each, for multiple doormen or a gift.

Handyman – $15 to $40 or a gift.
Oh, but these averages tend to be higher in large cities. Cool.

So if I err on the side of generous that’s about $1,500.00. Wow. Now some of these people in the photo I’ve never seen, although I’ve lived here since April. And I do have favorites. If I don’t tip some, will they stop opening the door for me or greeting me when I come in? Probably not. Is it appropriate to not tip some at all if I either don’t know them or don’t like them? Can I gift a stick of gum ala Kevin McAllister from Home Alone, Lost in New York?

A tip should be earned, but to me, someone would need to be extremely rude to not deserve a tip at a restaurant or beauty salon. I’m not sure if I’ve ever not tipped in those situations. In the case of resident staff, can we play the “Naughty or Nice” game? Can I just tip the handyman who comes to my apartment and tells me the reason my fire alarm is going off is because the battery is low and/or we put it in upside down? Or the doorman who offers to take my multiple grocery bags upstairs for me? Or the guy who greets me like we’re BFF, “Hey! What’s going on? Almost Friday!” Or the cute one with the earring? Or the guy who didn’t call the cops when my Halloween party got a little rowdy? But if I only tip my favorites, will they talk to each other and realize we shafted some?

Also don’t we all work in the service industry somehow? I provide media planning expertise to clients year-round, without overtime. Should the clients be tipping me too? What’s the point of tipping at all? I did some Google searching, and found that it can improve service in that good service is rewarded, bad service punished. So yes, I suppose I can just tip the ones I like. Tipping is only really for those who go above and beyond, to show gratitude, or to ensure proper service in the future (so then should I tip everyone just in case I start seeing them around?) I don’t want to be stingy, but I’m certainly not a high roller like those living above floor 50… in the penthouses.

I’m guessing the solution is to tip everyone at least the minimum, but tip the favorites a little more. I could also make cookies or crafts and give actual gifts instead of money, but let’s face it. These dudes provide services all day long for residents of Trump Plaza. They want money, not baked goods. Baked goods would make me seem positively poor in this place (which I likely am the most impoverished person in the entire building, but I try to pretend I fit in.) Anyway, here’s to a prosperous New Year for myself, so I can make up for all these tips I’m about to decree.

P.S. Happy Holidays from the poor renters in 306. We hope you enjoy the Ramen.

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1 Response to Here's a Holiday Tip… or 20.

  1. Erica Young says:

    Wow, I am more and more happy that I don’t live in a major city. I’ll take cows and the Amish anytime over having to tip people I don’t any may never know over the already expensive holidays.

    I think your plan is right. Just tip the ones you know. Good luck with that!


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