Monday, August 31, 2009

Tipping and Sports

Chris V, the ever-generous master of virtue, asks,

What's the protocol on tipping for take-out? It's not like they have to wait on you, and yet tips are the majority of a waiters pay. I generally leave %10, rounded up to the nearest dollar (as opposed to %20 for sit-down meals) and I always feel sort of guilty. Am I being a miserly bastard?
Take-out may be the one place where a gratuity is gratuitous. Tips, for everyone but a mohel, serve two purposes: first, they are an appreciation for service, second, they are a part of service wrokers' pay. When you eat at a restaurant, the wait staff works extremely hard to make sure that your meal is a pleasant experience, taking your order, offering advice, making sure that utensils and drinks are present for you, actiing as your intermediary and advocate with the kitchen, cleaning up after you during and after your meal. for these services, they are paid terribly. Their service was directly to you, so a tip for that work not only seems reasonable, but is expected by those who write the checks for the restaurant.

In the case of take-out, the role is extremely circumscribed (darn, alrteady used my mohel reference). The person who hands you the bag and takes your money does not dedicate the time or effort that she or he would if you were seated. As such, the expectation of a tip and the amount are both certainly decreased. I don't think 10% is unreasonable, indeed it seems thoughtful, especially if you've ordered, say, a complex coffee drink that you know takes effort.

GC asks a couple of sports questions. First,
Will baseball ever regain its lustre, i.e., as compared to football, in America?
No. Baseball is in trouble for a couple of reasons. First, it is by its nature a slow game. There is a natural rhythm and it is not action packed, something that attracts the younger generation. It is part of what those of us who love it, love about it, but it is certainly something that hampers its wider appeal. Second, there is a lot more competition these days for leisure time attention, not only from other sports but from other non-sporting activities. There was a time when baseball was pretty much it, but like network television, it is a thing of the past. Finally, while baseball has teetered on the verge for years, especially after the self-inflicted wounds of the strikes, the whole enterprise was rescued by Cal's streak and then the McGwyer/Sosa home run race. But once the fact that the latter was the result of steriods came out, and then with the Bonds fiasco and the drip, drip, drip that has followed, any amazng feat will be seen skeptically. I don't think baseball is in danger of collapse, but I also do not think it will ever regain the place it once held.

GC also asks,
"Is ultimate fighting an improvement upon other gladiatoral sports--a friend recently claimed that UF is less dangerous than boxing, among other things."
The name "ultimate fighting" is a modern marketing moniker for the ancient sport of pankration which was a part of the Olympic games in ancient Greece. While contemporary ultimate fighters are no doubt tough, the ancients engaged in their version in the nude which lent itself to additional dangers not faced today.

The Romans, of course, took such games to levels otherwise never replicated. In the 80s, we had the Ameircan Gladiator version which can only be seen as the Vanilla Ice of the hand-to-hand sporting genre. While contemporary ultimate fighting comes closer to the testoterone-drenched ignorance of ancient times, certainly the lack of cool metal outfits and wild animals keeps it from approaching the level of its classical forerunners. It is interesting, however, to note that the Christians are now the gladiators. Not sure what it means, but there is a certain irony to it.

More tomorrow.