Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Your Etiquette Advice from Some Old Books I Found

So when I can't sleep--which is rare because I can sleep on the floor of subway stations, but sometimes it escapes me--I read really old etiquette books. What of it?

You know before today's tip, I heard a story on Weekend America about the pointlessness of etiquette specifically of not putting your elbows on the table. Pointless? How would we know how to interact with one another if someone didn't tell us? How about that, Bill Radke?

For instance, tipping? Not like the tip I am going to give you, but the one with money. According to Book of Etiquette: Volume II by Lillian Eichler 1921 (Nelson Doubleday, Inc.):

In a little tea shop in Fifth Avenue in New York, the following is printed on the back of each menu: "Tipping is an un-American custom." Help us abolish it by adding 10 cents to the amount of your bill. At the end of the week, the waiter will receive the entire amount added to his wages." Patrons have greeted this plan enthusiastically. They feel that it presages the ultimate abolition of a custom that has long been in disrepute because it is so distinctly un-American. The waiters in this progressive little tea room serve each patron with the same degree of courtesy and respect; there is no fawning servility, no unfair dividing of service between two patrons. Let us hope hat before long all restaurants and hotels will follow the lead of the little tea-shop that revolts against the undemocratic custom of tipping. But for the present, while it remains a national custom, we must know when to tip and how to tip, and the correct amounts. In certain states, as in South Carolina, tipping is illegal. In this case as in all others of a like nature, the rules of etiquette are set aside in favor of the statutes of the law.

That's right stop tipping, you un-American jerks. This has been your etiquette advice from some old books I found.

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