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    Wednesday
    Sep202006

    Thanks for the tip!

    Okay, back to reality. Our car broke down today, it's a 97 Ford Taurus with 109,000 miles and probably a few too few oil changes on it. (Let's face it, the oil companies want us to change our oil at every 3,000 miles so they can sell more oil, right?) Anyway, I called AAA and they came out to tow it about 45 minutes later. They called the cell phone 10 minutes earlier to say that the driver was only 10 minutes away, and since it was a recorded message I couldn't rebuke that the car was only 5 minutes from the station to begin with. The car was at one of my wife's customers house (she has multiple customers, I don't have multiple wives.  This is Connecticut, not Utah), and the tow truck driver seems like he's in a rush. He tries to start the car, says the starter is dead, then proceeds to beat on the starter with a long crowbar-type device, but it doesn't work. So he wants to drive over the lawn to pick up the front of the car, but the owner of the house is there and he kinda looks like His Name is Earl, so I offer to push the car into the street. Driver says no problem, has me put the emergency brake on and shift into neutral, then he locks the steering wheel in place with the seat belt, picks up the car from the rear end, and tows it out into the street lickity-split. (Does anyone say "lickity-split" anymore? I think that expression died with Popeye.) He switches the tow to the front of the car (without even getting out of the cab) and a few seconds later, he's tearing ass up the street with our car, and we can't even catch up to him. So I'm thinking, this guy knows what he's doing, maybe I should tip him or something. Then I'm struck by the whole "tip-angst" thing: How much should I tip him? How do I tip him without looking like a geek? Is it appropriate to tip him? What if I don't tip him? How much does he make an hour, anyway? Do-do-do. Da-da-da. So we finally catch up to him while he's approaching a light to turn onto the main drag, but he makes it through the yellow and we get stuck at the light. By the time the light turns green again, and we drive the quarter mile to the service station up the street, the car is sitting in the parking lot and the driver is nowhere to be seen! Guess that answers what he thought about my tip! But I guess the question remains--in our service-laden society, who gets tipped and who doesn't? I'm sure I saw something years ago from Ann Landers on the subject, but she's someone who would say something like "lickity-split" and she's dead anyway, so I just don't know anymore. I mean, I'm a 20%-er at the restaurant, and I tip the baggage guy at the airport at least a buck a bag, and I always leave my massage therapist a little something after we're done (get your mind out of the gutter!) but what about tow truck drivers? Carpet installers? Dental Hygienists? Mailmen?  Someone help me out here!

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