Pay it forward

Had this thought this week while traveling on business.

You know this whole “1% vs 99%” topic and “income inequality” and “raise the minimum wage” debate – well I saw this quote from Pope Francis in Time Magazine, February 3 edition: “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.”  That gave me the idea to leave a $5 or $10 dollar tip on the morning I check out of the hotel.  I tip when I’m out at a restaurant or in a bar while on business travel.  The servers are making a comparatively low hourly wage as are the housekeeping staff at the hotel.  Maybe some of you already do this, I know that I may have done so only once or twice ever.

So then I thought, what if a lot of us who fit this description: work full time, travel occasionally for business or pleasure with some discretionary income (eg, kids out of college and on their own), did the same thing.  Rather than having the government engage in forced redistribution of wealth, citizens would be helping citizens for the betterment of society and the economy.  Lower wage earners would have additional income with which could help them buy additional food, goods, services, thereby improving the economy.

I believe it has a spiritual impact (it’s better to give than to receive).  Am I naïve? Do you think this has merit economically or would it be a drop in the ocean and have no or minimal economic impact?

5 thoughts on “Pay it forward”

  1. Great discussion, Chris!
    The higher end hotels do not typically leave tip envelopes in the rooms. They tend to pay the staff better and sometimes you might notice and extra gratuity charge on your bill. Like you, I tend not to leave an extra tip. At the start of my trip, I put the do not disturb sign on the door for the whole duration (save the water washing the towels). It is at the lower chain hotel/motels where I might leave a tip (they don’t pay the staff as well). One reason we probably do not usually tip the hotel housekeeping is because we never interact with them and are used to building a relationship with the person we tip (hair dresser, bar tender, masseuse etc.). This comment may not be a popular one, but when I walk out into the hallway and have a question or need help and I ask housekeeping, the only thing I typically receive in return is “No English.” That tends to frustrate me and not make me want to tip them. To take your lead, I will now leave a $5 pay-it-forward tip on my departure (the only day my room is cleaned). I may even find an envelope and on it write those very words!

  2. I love the idea of paying it forward Chris. I agree that tipping is very important and I have a friend who tips the maids in hotels. When I first saw her do that I told her that I had never thought of tipping the maid. It is a good idea. Small efforts that get momentum can make a big difference. My fear with the increase in minimum wage is that it will cost people jobs due to the pressure businesses are getting with the insurance issues and now the threat of having to lay out more money for salaries.

    1. Lori, I think you are correct about an increase in the minimum wage, it would lead to a reduction in jobs. It could also lead to higher prices to pay for the forced higher wages, which would result in a negative impact on business and therefore a reduction in hiring. We’ve already seen an increase in small businesses making more employees part-time to avoid having to provide insurance at the higher costs.

  3. I don’t tip the housekeeping staff at hotels. I tend to keep things picked up, thrown away, beds straightened and reuse towels. The one exception was at the hotel in Connersville, Indiana in 2008. Connersville, my parents home town, is struggling and the hotel was a nice “mom & pop” place. We (my Mom and siblings) were there several days. Mom left a tip, so I did. I believe my sister did, too. Not sure about the twin brothers, though!

  4. We always leave a tip for housekeeping, even at all inclusive hotels. I think everyone should have to work in a service industry job at least once in their lives.

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