On the Karma of Decency in Travel

If the story of travel over the past few decades has been its transformation from a competitive service into a dismal commodity (this is my theory), there is still an occasional flash of light in yon bleak tunnel.

The flashers of these lights (a phrase that didn’t seem quite so wrong until I typed it out) are to be cherished, and when possible rewarded. This is an extension of my theory, and I have lately had a chance to carry it out.

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Big Tipper? Maybe Not So Much

It has taken a while for me to realize that my usual 20 percent tip no longer elicits the warm thanks it used to prompt from wait staff at restaurants. At least not in these United States.

And let me explain that my standard 20 percent tip, provided for anything but the most unacceptable service, is always a bit more than 20 percent. I tip on the total, including tax, and I round up. At inexpensive restaurants, I round up considerably. I also add on for truly exceptional service.

This has been a point of pride with me, regardless of my wildly fluctuating income over the years. If I can’t afford to tip well, then I can’t afford to eat out. And it was my understanding that 20 percent was tipping well, 15 percent was standard and 10 percent was pretty damned cheap or a sign of serious dissatisfaction.

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Noblesse Oblige and Airline Class Envy

A great many years ago my husband, daughter and I arrived very late for a flight, owing to a series of unfortunate events, and were offered two seats in first class.

My husband valiantly insisted on taking the coach seat so that my daughter and I could sit up front. When we all reunited after disembarkation in Chicago, our daughter, then too young to know better, asked my husband if he had eaten the enchilada or the salad.

“I ate,” he declared through gritted teeth, “THE PEANUTS.”

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