Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Tipping Point

PREVIOUSLY: Counter-clockwise

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“Whatever you do, absolutely, do not, leave a tip,” advised my friend and sometime guest blogger here at NMP, Matt.

I was starting to think that he was having a laugh at our expense when I gave our taxi driver £60 for a £58 fare. The taxi driver’s eyes looked menacing as he bit out, “Is that it, then?”

“Uhh, okay,” I managed. I was actually expecting my £2 back, but his accent combined with his sharp tone confused me. It also made me pee a bit in my britches.

I did a quick mental calculation, converting the pounds into US dollars. The fare with my begrudging tip, was $119.4929 to be exact, or roughly $120, or $2 for every £1.

If you didn’t get any of that, it’s ok, I understand. This calculation only took 1/10th of a second for me because Asians are equipped with a built-in calculator in our brains, which is useful. Although I wished my parents opted for the upgrade package when I came out of the Asian Baby Factory and installed a vibrator in my penis as well.

After checking into our hotel, I quickly went on the Internet to check up on the local tipping customs.

What I found left me a little perplexed and unsure, but it seemed that there are three main rules: you do not tip a bartender or at a bar, even if there is food served; you don’t have to tip a waiter if a service charge is already added to your check; you do not tip the taxi driver, if you can run very fast and you’re not carrying any luggage, otherwise, it’s 15%.

Granted, the currency exchange rate is not exactly an enticement to tip, when everything you buy is implicitly double the listed price. When there is a choice between a nice Indian restaurant or, that place with the big yellow M where they serve 113.45 gram (1/4 lbs) hamburgers, served with chips (french fries) and medium drink for £4.45, VAT included, well, I’m lovin’ it...

Yes, if you do the math, that’s still $8.90, which is ridiculous. But what can you do? You make the most of it, try to skimp on some things, and on others, you just have to bend over and take it from The (British) Man. You just hope he’s kind enough to use some lube.

After spending $119.4929 getting to the hotel, I doubt if we would be taking a taxi back to the airport later this week. The tube will have to do. The money saved will go towards a noble cause: my vibrator implant fund.

Huzzah! Our hotel didn’t turn out to be a fleabag hotel at all! The Radisson Edwardian Mountbatten was located at the Seven Dials area, in the fashionable Soho district. It had free wireless Internet, which came in useful to do travel research. The room wasn’t huge, but it has nice decor, clean, comfortable and even had a gym equipped with treadmills, a step machine, a rowing machine and free weights. I booked it from Hotels.com. Location was amazing as we were within walking distance to West End, the theatre district, Leicester Square and other attractions. Lot of great shopping too!

Alas, because I wasn’t sure that it wasn’t going to be a fleabag hotel, I only booked it for half the trip. We will be switching to another hotel for the other half. More on that later.


NEXT: Gay Food Porn

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We will be heading back to Chicago tomorrow. Watch out for more posts about our London vacation and pictures!

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