Friday, March 29, 2013
There's an 18 Percent Gratuity?
When I was an impoverished college student I went to a conference with the girl I was dating at the time--now my wife. We walked with our friends a long way to the nearest Pizza Hut restaurant. The place was a zoo! And the service was incredibly slow. There was one waitress for the entire restaurant and she was completely overwhelmed.
And we waited and waited. I grew angry about the wait. And I got over being angry. I'm a little fuzzy about how, either I just got so bugged that I turned it into a joke, or maybe my dear girlfriend informed me that the restaurant was seriously under-staffed. I hope it was the latter.
You see, when you start out angry, and then you understand, whatever's left of your anger evaporates. Suppose a guy cuts you off on the freeway. But then you learn he's rushing his mother with a heart-attack to the hospital. You understand and that changes your paradigm. Anger is transmogrified into sympathy. But if you don't understand, you'll stay grumpy.
So, I'm waiting for my pizza for a very long time. And then I understand that our waitress is dancing as fast as she can and that is not fast enough. And all her customers are as grumpy as I have been and she's likely to get zip in the way of tips. She's working much harder for much less money. Did I say I was an impoverished college student? I gave her a $10 or $20 tip. I forget which. It was enough to hurt back then. I thought it was the right thing to do and I still do.
However, there is one circumstance when I do not do this. If I see the check has been rung up with a gratuity included, then screw you. Your demand was for less than I planned to give, but you're not getting a penny more than that.
I think this is part of human nature. If you insist upon a surcharge above the stated price, you'll get exact change and I'll never come back. But if you are open to generosity, you'll be pleasantly surprised. By me at least. And I think most people are generous when they can afford it.
That's why I hate the various Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes and love indie artists.
The DRM scheme is like the gratuity that's been tacked onto your bill. It is a hidden tax on your purchase. You paid for a song or an ebook or something, and you get something less something with restrictions that keep you from transferring it to your new computer/e-reader/ipod or something. You did not bargain for those DRM restrictions and there they are diminishing the utility of the goods you've received.
That's why I avoided Apple and Amazon when they put DRM on their tunes and ebooks, and why I ripped my own CDs and bought DRM-free books from Baen--that is until Apple and Amazon dropped their DRM schemes. And sometimes, I'll buy something extra from some author or singer just because I want to encourage her.
By the way, you may have noticed that I am selling The Aristotelian and Finding Time. If they look like ebooks you'd like to read, I'd appreciate it if you bought them. And if you can't afford it, lemme know and I'll sneak a copy to you gratis. They're not DRM encrypted to feel free to share.