2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
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Book Review: Keep the Change

Don’t you love it when you learn something and are vastly entertained at the same time? I certainly do, and Steve Dublanica’s latest – Keep the Change – is my new favorite exemplar of this. The book, a follow-up to his 2008 hit “Waiter Rant”, is a fascinating exploration of the service industry and tipping. Read it – you’ll love it and I guarantee you will never look at a waiter, taxi driver, valet, or any other service worker the same way again.

A review copy of the book was provided free of charge by LuxuryReading.com. The original (shorter version) post of this book review was made available through LuxuryReading.

The book opens with a trip to Vegas to learn about the proper etiquette for tipping a lap dancer – and it only gets better from there… And just to cover this right up front, he does it in an entirely non- skeevy way, even though much of the tipping does border on – if not downright enter – some potentially skeeve-worthy territory. Because yes, his exploration of “personal services” tipping includes how to compensate strippers, prostitutes, dominatrixes (or is it dominatrices? who really knows?), and phone sex operators for their time, as well as the more conventional waiters, bellhops, concierges, and cab drivers.

I’ve never waited tables or relied on tips for my survival – and boy oh boy am I glad. The history of tipping is oddly fascinating, as is the compensatory schemata for all the various service-providing professionals covered in the book. In fact, the information on how all these different jobs pay (or more accurately fail to pay) their practitioners is almost more interesting than the information on how we, the consuming public, are supposed to tip them. I was quite surprised to learn how many ridiculous ways employers screw service personnel out of minimum wage (and sometimes even out of the tips they actually manage to earn) – and once I had read through them all, I found myself a lot more sympathetic as far as tipping is concerned…

The take-home message that Dublanica delivers at the very end is a sparkling little bit of insight that – in the way of all the best sparkling little bits of insight – seems extremely simple and obvious yet contains layers of wisdom: tipping is all about relationships. Relationships between people. Relationships between people who each need something – one needs a service, the other needs to earn a living. And with this realization, comes a way of re-humanizing a lot of jobs that have been dehumanized for far too long. Pretty cool, huh? I thought so too…

Dublanica’s writing style is conversational and extremely engaging. He pulls you right along with him on his tip-exploring adventures, and I dare you to not find him to be a fun companion. And if that wasn’t reason enough to read the book, there are also sections within a number of the chapters that tell you in explicit detail how to handle tipping in certain situations – with specified dollar amounts for appropriate tips that come straight from the workhorses mouths. Add in appendices on holiday and wedding tipping and an interesting review of the literature on the correlation (or lack thereof – you be the judge) between tipping and race, and you have both a great read and a useful reference book.

Pick this one up – I promise it’s worth it. So worth it that I’m now hunting down “Waiter Rant” and eagerly waiting to see where Dublanica will go next…

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