Category Archives: etiquette

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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The Shifting Ethics of the Reclining Seat

I’ve always liked the Ethicist column in the New York Times Magazine, to which people write with ethical dilemmas. My favorite was about reclining airliner seats.

Travelers face many questions of conscience but this is one of the more immediate and personal. Should you recline your seat into the space of the person behind you? What if the person in front of you does it to you? (As with most dilemmas involving air travel, it’s magnified in coach.)

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No, You May Not Have My Seat

A few years ago I was flying from Atlanta to Honolulu when a fellow passenger made an offer I could refuse, and did.

The gentleman wanted me and the passenger sitting next to me to move. It seems that the petitioning fellow and his wife were sitting separately. After determining from my seat mate that the said seat mate and I were strangers to each other, the gentleman proposed that we give up our seats so that he and his wife could take them and sit together. After, all what would it matter to us?

My seat mate agreed to the deal but I declined, much to the ire of the wannabe seat trader, who complained loudly for much of the remaining flight time about my intransigence. It was a nine-hour flight but it seemed shorter. The guy was so entertaining in his outrage the time just flew by.

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Do Air Passengers Have A Right To Daylight?

Are passengers in the window seat of an aircraft obliged to pull down the shade for the convenience of other passengers?

It’s now routine for flight attendants to ask passengers to pull down the window shade so that others can see their movie screens better. On a recent flight, a passenger across the airplane complained to the flight attendant that she couldn’t sleep because the glare from my window was getting in her eyes. When the flight attendant asked me to close the shade,  I did it — while the offended passenger stared daggers at me.

This issue doesn’t come up for me often because I much prefer an aisle seat, especially if I’m traveling alone, but it arises now and then. And despite the fact that I think people need to be especially cooperative and considerate when using mass transit, something in me rebels on the window issue.

Why should I seal off my contact with the outside world  to enhance the experience of others whose attention deficits require them  to absorb passive entertainment? What if I’d rather look out the window? What if I prefer to read by natural light? I’m just asking. What do you think?