18, 24 and 72

Last night marked the official “Last Supper”. We all went out for a meal and had a reasonably good time, better than the last time I went out for a meal with the miserable Happy Couple.

It was not without its own controversy though, and it brought to the fore something that I find quite annoying in people.

I am a tipper. I like to leave something for staff in restaurants, and taxi drivers and barbers. I’m not as generous as the Americans are (their tipping culture is amazing to us Brits) but I will leave something. 10% or thereabouts is pretty standard.

I see it as a special thank you. Yes, they do get paid for what they do, but they are invariably on the minimum wage, and the tips are an extra special thank you. When someone has personally provided you with service, you should feel a little guilty, and as an act of humility you show your appreciation. It’s fairly standard.

But it seems in the past couple of years my friends have generally not shared this view. Yes, we are students, and yes we are pretty poor most of the time. But the fact remains that they wouldn’t give a second thought to paying £3 for a pint, so neither should they do so when providing a tip.

The problem is simple though – they just don’t tip. I hear stuff like “I don’t believe in it” and “I didn’t think the service was that good” but these are just excuses.

And sure enough, they were all wheeled out last night. We had a meal, 11 of us all together (some of them were friends of friends, alas, my friendship circle is not that big) – and as always large meals are a particular challenge for the staff. People don’t listen to the waiters (or can’t hear and others don’t pass the message on). People forget what they ordered. Lots of meals on the serving tray that all look the same (e.g. lamb korma, chicken korma).

I thought they would automatically add the service charge on. Normally they do if it’s a large group. I almost wish they had because it would have made people pay it. But sadly not. The £180 bill arrived, and most people studied it carefully to work out what they owed. I insisted people put in an extra £2 each to take us up to £200, but it wasn’t happening. The excuses were wheeled out.

In the end it was quite embarrasing to hand over just £185. My meal came to £15, and I ended up putting in £18 (a tip of 20%!) so it meant that just one other person had offered a tip.

Very disappointing. And it left things on a bit of a sour note. We went the pub afterwards and the situation was somewhat awkward, but enhanced too by the fact that the Happy Couple were having one of their typical zero-sum games, where one enjoyed pissing off the other and we all had to sit in the crossfire.

It continued when we got home, when one half of the couple (the girlfriend) decided to go out to a nightclub with her friend, leaving the other half to stay here miserable, and soon went to bed. Urgh. At least it’s over in 24 hours.

And meanwhile, to complete the trilogy, I received my final essay mark yesterday, which was another 72. That’s three 72 marks this semester. Something is very odd about it. In any case, it hasn’t really affected my chances of a first because the exam performance is still the most critical bit of the equation here.

Anyway, let the long, slow and tedious process of packing begin!