My hair stylist is coming to my home to fix my unruly hair. Since I’m paying in cash, he’ll be pocketing the entire amount. Do I still tip?
Etiquette tips on how to interact in today’s world. Have a question for Mister Manners? Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org and look for replies in the coming weeks.
SPLIT ENDS MEET WIT’S END
Q: No sooner had California started opening salons than they are shutting down again. Ugh! After four months, I’ve had it with my unruly hair and have asked my stylist to give me a cut and color at home. His fee is the same as it would have been at the salon, but I’ll be paying in cash, and he’ll be getting 100% of that money rather than splitting it with the salon. Do I still tip him?
A: Have you asked him this question? Don’t be afraid to inquire, in as polite a manner as possible. Doing so over text message can make the conversation less awkward for both of you. Either way, I predict the answer may be: “Some people do, some people don’t.”
If you press the issue, he may respond along the lines of: “Gratuities for in-home services are never expected, but they are always appreciated.” Which more or less translates into: “I won’t hold it against you if you don’t—but I won’t forget it either.”
You might be rationalizing your inclination to skip the tip by insisting you’re missing out on the salon experience, something for which you’re willing to pay a higher premium. And you’d have a point. Between being pampered in a cushy salon versus craning your neck over your own kitchen sink as shampoo runs into your eyes unfettered, there is only one clear winner.
But before you continue with your objections, consider this: a hairdresser who comes to your home during lockdown is likely violating the salon’s rules, not to mention the state’s emergency regulations. The former could cost him his job; the latter could cost him his license.
So look at it this way: as you bid farewell to the grays and the flyaways, your coiffeur is going out on a serious professional limb. Factor in the potential health concerns (for both of you, admittedly) and this high-stakes favor makes the skipping of a gratuity far less defensible. In exchange for a tip of 15% (and up), you’re going to look and feel 100% better. Isn’t that well worth every penny?
Q: A friend of mine is in her early 40s, unattached and quite eager to have a baby. For about a year prior to the pandemic, she spent a boatload of money on IVF treatments. She has already miscarried once, and I feel as though she may be pursuing a dream that is simply not in the cards. She had to put her quest on temporary hold during the nationwide lockdown, but as fertility clinics begin to open again, she wants to resume her quest. How do I advise her to consider alternatives?
A: Has she come to you seeking advice, letting you know she respects your opinion and wants your honest counsel? If the answer to this one is no, the standard to be met next is a high one: Are you genuinely concerned for her emotional, physical or financial well-being? Is she in some sort of danger? Is there anyone closer to her with whom she may be confiding?
If you firmly believe she is putting herself in peril and that she is not hearing this from anyone else, yes, you should speak up. In such a scenario you might say: “I have some thoughts about your plan and would love to share them with you if that’s okay?” From there you will reveal your feelings in as kind a way as possible. Then you will do a whole lot of listening.
If, on the other hand, you are simply perplexed as to why she is following a path you believe is inadvisable, you must let it go. The decision to start a family is deeply personal. And with one in six couples struggling with issues of infertility, it is a far more prevalent situation than you may realize. This is her journey to take, and wherever that road leads, she needs to find her own way. When and if she’s ready to ask for your advice, she will.
Mister Manners, Thomas P. Farley, is a nationally regarded expert who appears regularly in the media to discuss modern-day etiquette dilemmas — from how to split a check fairly to how to get a word in edgewise. Follow Thomas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And for more insights, listen to his brand-new podcast, “What Manners Most,” which will be focused exclusively on Coronavirus-related etiquette for the foreseeable future.