Saturday, 9 July 2011

Day 8: Tipping and Other Lost Monies

As I feared, there is no internet access at this conference centre.
The following pages were written daily, however, and uploaded all at once

I fear that I am failing the frugality test. Okay, so over the last five days, I have spend precisely 5.50 euros and £2 of my own money. Which isn't too bad, all things considered. But here's the thing – I should have spent nothing. In other words, I have spent just over £6 that I did not have to spend. I made 8 portions of soup for a quarter of that!

But I was thirsty one evening, and instead of asking for tap water at the little bar at the conference centre, I found myself ordering a Holunder Bionade (a fizzy cranberry juice, to you and me). And then last night, I not only bought myself another Bionade, but found myself saying, “Would you like something to drink?” to a colleague. I actually also said it to a third person, as was only polite, but luckily he declined. Nevertheless, that was 3 euros more. And the rest of the money went on tips – tips! - to two taxi drivers.

The trouble is, to do this properly, I am going to have to become downright mean. No more rounds in the bar. No more tips to taxi drivers or waitresses or hairdressers, even if someone else is paying for the rest. Luckily, in the UK, you don't have to tip. It is not required, and not necessarily even expected. But it is a nice and a polite thing to do if the service has been good, and I have been brought up to be nice and polite. I see that I am going to have to cultivate a certain hardness of heart.

But perhaps there is hope for me. I am writing this in the airport at D├╝sseldorf (no drinking fountains here - Amsterdam wins!), and they have a book shop with a nice big section of English crime novels. I had a good browse to pass some time, and saw quite a few that I want to read. Crime novels, you should know, are my trash of choice. But I want you to know and admire this, for this is a true and faithful account:
D├╝sseldorf Airport



Thank you.

Total: £5 


Jason said...

*applause* I am unable to resist a good (or even otherwise) bookshop. However, I find that buying novels cheaply from a charity shop and then returning them once finished (after all it would have to be a really good story to deserve re-reading rather assuages the guilt.

As for worrying about bar tabs, you might just be taking the frugal thing too far there - the important point is surely to maintain your frugality as much as possible? Rather than denying hospitality then, that frugality may place your generosity on a higher register. Just a thought. (This is, after all, coming from someone who, like Lady Macbeth, has been nursing a grudge albeit over unequal bar tabs for two years :-)

Fran said...

Thanks, Jason. I'm in a fortunate possition here - my predecessors int he flat have left me a goodly supply of crime novels which are entirely to my taste. So I shall work my way bthrough them first. I also intend to scount out the local library at some time.

You make a good point re. hospitality. There may be a case for putting bar tabs under 'necessary expenditure', alongside bus fares and cabbage. The alternative is never going out at all, or sponging off other people for an entire year, which will not help my friendships. But neither can I be buying rounds for everyone in the pub either. This is why Rowntrees calculated their £14,000 per year needed not just for minimal living, but also for participating in society. :(