Can You Give a Postal Worker Cookies?

A Friday Chat about tipping.

Photo credit: Paul Hudson, CC BY 2.0.

Nicole: Happy Friday! I get to give my hairstylist a holiday bonus today!

Megan: Happy Friday to you! You just reminded me that I have to gather funds for my cleaning person’s bonus!! Also, I didn’t realize that I have to give hairstylists bonuses and now I feel like a jerk. How…much?

Nicole: I’m not sure any of us have to do anything? I feel like I read, somewhere, that stylists get bonuses and I liked the idea? I think I’ll double the tip I usually give her.

Megan: You know, you’re right. No one has to do anything, it’s very true. I think I also read that stylists and other like, repeating-service people get bonuses at the end of the year and for some reason that notion always seemed like a very fancy-rich person thing to do. Like, I had a very specific vision of a matron in fur sweeping through the salon with discreet envelopes of cash or maybe a bottle of champagne, tipping the doorman at her apartment building, giving her housecleaner bags of Givenchy. I’ve never actually considered doing it myself, but it is nice.

Is there anyone else in your life that you do holiday tips for?

Nicole: I don’t have anyone else to tip. I clean my own apartment, I… um… what other services do people use? I never see a mail person. Are we supposed to tip them?

Megan: If this was 1956, maybe? I also don’t think I have the same mailperson every time. I guess the other service people I would tip are like, the women at the nail salon and honestly, the girls from the weed delivery service I use. With the former, I might bring them something for Chinese New Year, but for the latter, I have a feeling they can’t accept tips? I’m not sure how that works, honestly.

Nicole: It looks like, in the post Cirrus Wood did this morning, that postal workers can’t accept tips. I think some gig economy workers aren’t supposed to accept tips either, especially if they work through an online service, although people are certainly doing under-the-table tipping.

Tip the Messenger

Megan: Yeah, that makes sense. Back to the postal employee thing, re-reading Cirrus’s post reminds me that I knew that fun fact, but I feel like you COULD give a mail person, like, cookies. Whether or not they take them, however, is another thing because taking cookies from a near-stranger feels very risky. As this conversation rages on, I just remembered another person I should tip — my super!

Is there a super for your building? Or do you handle repairs yourself?

Nicole: We have a handyman whom we can call as needed, so… there’s someone. I haven’t needed any repairs yet so I don’t know how the process might work.

Megan: We’ve lived in this building for so long that the super is basically an uncle that we call when we can’t figure out why the toilet won’t unclog. Like, our relationship with him has evolved to the point where he feels comfortable enough to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, like he did the night before Thanksgiving when we talked for a half hour about making turkey and whether or not my sister or I had a man in the house to help us.

That sounds a lot creepier than it is, but he’s just an old-fashioned Polish dude named Kazik who yells at us sometimes but fixes things otherwise. I should get him something. Hopefully your potential relationship with your handyman is a lot less…familiar than mine is.

Nicole: Hahahahaha but you make a good point. Like, you could theoretically bake your super some cookies and he would assume they were not poison because he knew you, and when I was growing up I knew our mailman, and we used to maybe know people more? Who did things for us? And now we have a lot of ever-changing Uber drivers and Postmates, so it’s not like we’re giving a single person a tip for a year of good service.

Megan: That’s very true! I guess growing up I also knew my mailman and when I think about who fixed things, I think it was just my dad. But yeah, I guess the idea behind a tip is the gratitude for your relationship and the help and that really only works without being strange or bad if they’re someone who would say hi to you on the street if they see you. I couldn’t recognize my mail person if I saw them out and about but I do recognize the people at my nail place, my hairdresser, etc. Maybe that’s the criteria for figuring out who and how to tip?

Also, I have an embarrassing question, but what on earth is Postmates, people talk about it a lot and I always smile and nod and go “mmm-hmm” and walk to get more water.

Nicole: Postmates is a delivery service. You tell the app what you want and a Postmate goes and gets it and brings it to you. (I’ve never actually used it.)

Megan: Holy shit that sounds great and also very bad, habit-forming and guilt-inducing all at once. I will never use it. The gig economy occasionally stresses me out if I think about it too much.

Nicole: Me too. I’ve been able to use aspects of it to my advantage, both as a worker and as a consumer, but it’s hard enough to know whether you’re going to have a job a month from now, and with the gig economy it’s like “will I have a job five minutes from now?”

Megan: Ugh, I know. The one aspect of it that I use the most is Uber, but only Uber Pool, and every single time I feel bad and ask them a lot of questions about how they get paid, if they like it, etc. I guess Uber is fine, or as fine as something can be in 2016. But stuff like Postmates and all of those other delivery services that let you open an app and ask for like, tampons and a six-pack when you could very easily WALK TO THE STORE AND GET THEM YOURSELF make me angry. But! People need jobs. And if that’s going to give someone a job, then who am I to yell about it?

Nicole: And not all of us can just walk to a store. If I want to go to the nearest grocery store, it’s 40 minutes round-trip plus the time it takes to buy the stuff. I’m also kind of in a delivery dead zone, since there aren’t a lot of restaurants near my apartment, so my takeout options aren’t great. Which — I’m contradicting myself here, because I’m saying that I can’t go to a nearby convenience store but I’m also saying people won’t deliver stuff to me, but… um… yeah.

Megan: Hahahaha, it’s fine! I also forget that lots of places aren’t convenient like this big stupid city I live in and most of the people I talk to that use Postmates live in cities that aren’t New York, so it makes sense. The one thing I do know is that if anyone makes the journey to deliver to you or to me or to wherever, they should get a freaking tip. It is literally the least we can do.

Nicole: It is one of the reasons I do prefer Lyft to Uber. I don’t know how the actual driver earnings work out, but being able to give a tip makes me feel good, and we all know that it’s about making me feel good, LOL.

Megan: WAIT YOU CAN TIP WITH LYFT. I’ve used Lyft maybe once in my life but if you can tip than maybe I’ll make the switch. This has been illuminating.

Nicole: You could say I just gave you a good… wait for it… tip.

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