A tip on race

AMERICA IS FIXATED on race, a “problem” that will never, ever be solved due to people being what they are. The race fixation has ballooned since Barry, Michelle, Eric and Valerie came to town.

Coincidence? Course not. tipping2

A story this week caught my attention because it touches on something I know about personally: black people and tipping. I know about this because I used to be a taxi driver in New Orleans, a city populated primarily by black people. At least it was before Katrina. It’s less so now, I have read.

It seems that lots were blown all the way to Baton Rouge and even Houston where they put down roots and never headed back to Basin Street. But let’s not digress.

The news story is that the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., added a 15% “surcharge” to customers at the lobby bar during a conference of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, an organization of almost entirely black educational institutions.

In plain English, the hotel added a 15 percent tip to the bar tabs during a convention of black people.

Oh, dear! Just one step short of burning crosses and pointy, white hoods.

But here, as Paul Harvey famously phrased it, is the rest of the story. And there are two elements.

No. 1 is that many restaurants and bars add an automatic tip for large groups, no matter their skin tone. This is done because waiters tend to get stiffed by large groups. It’s a fact.

No. 2 is that blacks are lousy tippers. Cabbies know this from experience, and it is why a black person hailing a taxi, no matter how elegantly attired, will almost always be passed by if a white person down the block is hailing one too. It is not because cabbies dislike blacks per se. It is because tips make up a huge part of their income, and they ain’t stupid. You head for the cash.

When I was a cabbie, I quickly learned to dodge black customers. I was in it for the money, not racial justice.

As for the Ritz-Carlton, I’m betting they routinely do this during conventions which are, by definition, large groups of people. White customers see no racial element, raise no stink, and there are no news stories. Black people almost always see a racial element, and they have grown quite fond of raising stinks.

And there you have it — the rest of the story.

26 thoughts on “A tip on race”

  1. Hey, amigo, you may recall I am now hacking a few days a week here in Arizona. My experience has been that people of color have been very generous in the gratuity arena. Not every instance, mind you, but overall much better than, say, college students, strippers, or baby mommas at grocery stores.

    Even in terms of race or skin tone, they have ranked much higher in generosity than Native Americans, Hispanics or, the most offensive, those from India, Pakistan.

    Just my observations to date from the desert southwest, I would stop for a nicely dressed black person in a New York minute!

    Far and away best, regardless of race, are the rich out-of-towners headed to the airport. But that is likely true in any region, I imagine.

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    1. Marco: If you’ve ever told me that you’re a part-time cabbie, it has slipped my aging mind.

      But your experience is interesting for differing so widely from mine and, I know, other cabbies. Perhaps it’s a regional thing. You’re in Arizona. Perhaps it’s due to my taxi days taking place 45 years ago. Perhaps, perhaps.

      However, this does not refute the central issue. The hotel’s adding that tip is due to the quite common practice of adding tips to bills of large groups, and has squat to do with racism.

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  2. Business is in it for the money. That is why the NBA, NFL, and Silicon Valley hire performers and taxi drivers who head for the big spenders. Not to hard to understand. So why all the belly aching, Jesse?

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  3. Some people cannot get past their fixation on their skin color. They see racism in everything. One can’t say “niggardly” or “it’s sure dark out” anymore. Choose your words carefully.

    Living in Mexico all these years, you have missed out on a lot of insanity. Some people need to step up and accept responsibility for their own actions and not blame folks of other races. The white man is not responsible for all the problems in our society.

    Did the white man tell him to slip that knife into his brother-in-law, and then move on to his mother-in-law? No, that was the decision he made himself.

    The black community’s worse problem is black-on-black crime.

    Cheapness comes in all colors. Watch and see how often a man will leave a good tip, and then while he is paying at the cash register, his female companion will pick up the tip and then leave a quarter.

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    1. Señor Gill: I wonder how many people know the definition of niggardly, which has nothing whatsoever to do with skin color or race in any way.

      Yes, cheapness comes in all colors, but when I was a cabbie, blacks of all classes almost always left little or no tip whatsoever. It was a bizarre phenomenon.

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    2. 1976. I was in law school, my last year, and a tall black woman wagged her finger at me, giving me the lecture, because I’d used the word “niggardly.” When I informed it had zilch to do with her race, she haughtily informed me that she didn’t care what the word meant, she was offended nonetheless.

      But let’s move on to Starbucks encouraging its baristas to engage in racial dialogue with customers. That just rubs me the wrong way. Thankfully, that will never happen here in Mexico. At least, it better not.

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      1. Ms. Shoes: Does the “offended” phenom extend back as far as 1976? Pathetic.

        Yes, I read that story about Starbucks’ plan to have racial dialogue with customers, a plan that was quickly ridiculed and withdrawn. That it ever saw the proverbial light of day in the first place is one of the most asinine things to come down the pike in a very long time.

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        1. Carlos, you had me confused. Gotta hit the reply button beneath a comment if you’re replying to that comment. Otherwise, it hangs out there all by itself connected to nothing.

          But I agree with Señor Gill’s response. A problem cannot be resolved without acknowledging it.

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  4. I suspect it was a case of just who was living there. If he drove a cab in San Francisco or Vancouver, he would think Chinese were cheap.

    My daughter-in-law used to wait tables. She thinks women are the cheapest people. They bring in kids that make a mess, ask for a lot of service and then leave next to nothing.

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    1. So all women get painted with the big brush because some young mothers with children make a mess and don’t tip? This kind of generalizing is a little problem shared by a few of the commenters around here.

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      1. Loulou: Generalizations, like stereotypes, often are based on fact. And that’s why I favor stereotypes. I personally fit into no stereotype whatsoever, naturally.

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          1. Marco: Cantankerous at times but rarely online. I prefer opinionated. Old? Well, that depends on one’s perspective. Like fine wine, I am well aged. Angry? Nah. White? No denying that, just like the folks who dreamed up the Enlightenment and liberal democracy. Tea Party? I am on their side, yep. Terrorista? Say, what?

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            1. “Tea Party Terrorista” according to Hilarity Obumstead Clintonites, is an older, typically white toned person who has the audacity to support lower taxes, balanced budgets, accountability in both private and professional life, freedom to self defend, and belief in the tenents of our Constitution! Dangerous extremist thinking according to the Looney left…

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              1. Well, I am white-toned. When I was far younger, I often could have been mistaken for a Latino or a light-skinned black dude because I was a sun-worshiper. This has came back to bite me on the butt with multiple skin cancers over the past 30 years. Best to use a good sunblock.

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  5. As I have always said, the Progressives/leftists play with a two card deck: the race card and the class envy card. Just watch any Democrat in action and those two themes continually come up. Castro sold Cubans on both. One of his favorite propaganda items was to show blacks a fancy swimming pool and tell them that after he got power they could swim in it. After he seized power, 50+ years later we have increased income inequality compared to 1959 and Cuba’s leadership is composed of old white guys. I am always amazed at how Boobus Americanus (and I guess Boobus Cubanus) continually falls for this.

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  6. In the words of Eric Hoffer: “Marx never did a day’s work in his life, and knew as much about the proletariat as I do about chorus girls.”

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