Monday, October 15, 2012

Are you being served?

-The tipping wars have been rekindled, with a horde of commenters furious at a stingy blogger who had the gall to confess to only tipping a meager 20% at a restaurant. "There’s a word for anyone who tips 1.52. It’s ‘douchebag’."

Not to defend douchebaggery, but maybe this depends on the bill? Like, maybe this tip would be unacceptable if the meal were $15, but would be a lot for a cup of coffee? Or does the fact that food-service has happened mean anything short of transferring the contents of your bank account to the server makes you unfit for human interaction? Is it so hard to imagine that someone who can once-in-a-blue-moon afford $9 for a meal out might earn less than a server? Or is the simple fact of being served in this one instance evidence that you are a fur-and-diamond-encrusted villain from an 1980s movie? Whatever the case, apparently if you fail to tip at least $1 per coffee at a place where you order at the counter and get a drink to go/bus your own table, you're asking for bodily waste in your cappuccino. Noted. Thrilled with my newish thermos, by the way. Bringing us to...

-Let's give another suggestion to NJ Transit: eliminate the quiet car, and instead institute a loud car, the default being quiet. There are rarely enough loud people to fill one car (being that most everyone is a sleepy solo commuter), and the current state of affairs only means that businessmen (never women who do this - is this a macho thing about the size of one's inbox?) keep their phones on the setting where they beep every time an email comes in. Let the ding-new-email folks, the occasional tourists, and those who feel alone in the world if they don't cellphone-chat for an entire 90-minute ride all sit together, and let the rest of us nap in peace. (Will not overanalyze what it means that a travel article about the place I live includes mentions of not one but two naps.)

-No transition from the previous item, but anyway. I liked Alessandra Stanley's article about the new female protagonists who shun weight-think. I'm mystified, though, by the Jezebel critique. If it's unacceptable to mention the size of actresses, why a post doing just that? And isn't it clear that Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling are "larger" as in larger than the usual TV waifs, not as in larger than the average American woman? Not sure whether they are or aren't larger than the typical women of their characters' age/education level, in the urban environments depicted, but it's likely that they would not be considered unusually slim in hipster/doctor circles, respectively. So here, too, "larger" holds without either woman being, well, large.

Given that the TV default had long been, skinny actress portrays "fat" character with weight neuroses, I'd say we're at least headed in the right direction. Heading in that direction, I suspect, because when women themselves are creating these shows, the shows end up depicting women who are more active than passive, not necessarily assertive, but who are doing things rather than being looked at. (Still only seen the first episode of "Girls," but that plus the "The Mindy Project"* give that impression.) And there's no way to comment on this development with no mention of Dunham or Kaling's physiques.

Kaling and Dunham are both women who are where they are for reasons other than what they look like. That doesn't make them unattractive, certainly not. But officially, unanimously-agreed-upon "beautiful" isn't the main thing every young woman needs to be in life. I suspect most of us women are where we are professionally primarily for reasons other than our looks. That's a good thing, and all the better if women who star in TV shows have that option. So yes, what these new stars look like matters, and if we insist that they're super skinny and gorgeous, we're missing the point.

*I mean, kind of? From the show's website: "Mindy is determined to be more punctual, spend less money, lose weight and read more books - all in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded perfect woman...who can meet and date the perfect guy." A feminist anthem for our age. Sounds familiar.


Britta said...

Ok, with tips. If it's cash, I can see leaving 1.52 comes off as stingier probably than leaving 1.50, even though it's more accurate, because it implies you thought about it, rather than put 'about' what you should on the table. With a card, it's less weird, though I would probably round down to 1.50. Yes, 50 cents isn't a big deal, but...then it isn't to the server either. No one makes or breaks it on 50 cents, which is the point. If shame can go one way, why can't it go the other way as well? This "I never leave less than $20" is really irritating, because we *have* a social convention, and following it shouldn't make you stingy. Ridiculous tipping is also a form of either conspicuous consumption or being really really bad with math/money (I know people of both types), and no, it's not worth going into debt so you can leave $5 for your 1$ cup of coffee.

I agree too on the Mindy Kaling/Lena Dunham. I haven't seen Minday Kaling's show, but what makes 'Girls' good is that Lena *is* average, by any standards. She's not a Tina Fey "NY average, Ohio model" that most 'ugly' girls on TV are.

Phoebe said...


"because it implies you thought about it"

Which is true, but funny, because being aristocratically blasé about money doesn't necessarily lead to overtipping. It might well also mean that someone is one of those rare birds who never had a service/menial job, and who thus forgets to tip or has no idea why doing so is important.

"Ridiculous tipping is also a form of either conspicuous consumption or being really really bad with math/money"

Yes indeed. And one does wonder how tipping differs in a group vs. alone.