Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Seeding the Tip Cup (and the daily updates)

The other day, I was buying some groceries in my neighborhood C Town (149th and B'way!). All grocery stores in Manhattan are local, but C Town is local-er than most. All of the checkout girls (and they are all girls) live in the neighborhood and on Sunday there was at least 1 teenage boy bagging at each checkout aisle.

Now I remember reading a story in the Times a while back exposing a "scandal" prevalent in neighborhood grocery stores - baggers working purely for tips and not getting paid minimum wage. It's not clear if the kids at C Town are volunteering, looking for some spare coin to buy soda and comics*, or whether they are getting paid under the table, or what. What is clear, however, is that each station has a little plastic dish for tips.

*Do kids still buy comics? I bought pretty lame comics when I was a kid - mostly the conventional superhero type - Superman, Green Lantern, Spiderman, with lots of ads in the back for direct sale programs. I never got into the X-Men or Fantastic 4 or certainly not any of the alternative comics. If not comics these days, what are kids spending their hard earned grocery bagging tip money on?

There is a psychology to tipping that I learned as an oyster shucker in Faneuil Hall in Boston - this is called "seeding the tipjar". Lounge piano players, subway performers, panhandlers, all know that people are more likely to give someone money when they either see someone else giving, or see (via the seeded tip cup) that someone else has already. Now I am not the first to notice this, but it is not a staple solely of your local Starbucks.

The nudge blog asks what is the optimal amount seeding the tip jar to get the ball rolling. In my experience, it's not any particular amount - its more important to have a reasonable volume (but not too much, lest people think you've been tipped enough!) of small bills. A few crinkled ones in a 16 oz plastic cup usually was the routine when I worked at the Walrus and Carpenter 15 years ago.

Unfortunately the C Town kids didn't get the memo. Their tip bowl was empty when I arrived and empty when I left.

Of course, I didn't have any cash on me at the time.

The Baseball Update

President Obama did not bounce the first pitch. I don't care where Pujols was standing. President Obama's candor in the announcer booth was much more interesting ("we're out of money").

Hey, some Red Sox Blog links:

Red Sox Chick (blogging at Weei!!) on the relative lack of Red Sox participation in the ASG.

Red Sox Dad on the Sox all stars meeting the Prez.

Jere from Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory with a nice remembrance of watching the '83 ASG with his dad.

The Taxes Update

Seems like there may be some sort of tax hike proposed to fund health care reform? Anyone else know anything about this?

Recent coverage on other blogs:

Citizens for Tax Justice release (warning - pdf file). Editorially, the idea that it is tax justice for certain (but not all) taxpayers to be forced to "give back" some of the tax cuts they have received over the past decade is not "justice". That's a retroactive tax.

Don't Mess With Taxes also pointing out the multiple states in which a 50% marginal rate will be the new high. predicting that the surtax will never be enacted (I agree - and so does the taxgirl, I believe.

Finally, Megan McArdle with her thoughts.

The Death Update

After not blogging about my dad for a long long time, I had a weird dream last night - one of the increasingly rare dreams where he is an active present, walking, talking, like nothing ever happened - and I am always grateful that somehow he is among the living again. But this time, in my dream, I was reasoning with my brother, my mother, trying to get at whether he was really alive or not (again, in my dream). In my dream, we all saw him and thought he was there, but it turned out that we were each, separately, having Sixth Sense moments, when one of us saw him, it didn't mean the others did. We each were dreaming within my dream.

I feel like my subconcious had some sort of resolution.

Either that or I've got to cut down on the gin at night.

Your obit of the day belongs to Reggie Fleming, a hard-nosed hockey player from the 60s. He easily could have been the inspiration for Reggie Dunlop in Slap Shot, but apparently the first name was just a coincidence. He played professionally for 20 seasons (12 in the NHL) and led the league in penalty minutes his last season. Now that is dedication.

The obit is here

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