Monday, July 8, 2019

"Valuing Value, Top To Bottom"

I have written before, saying that, in our culture, “That person makes too much money” is a literal meaninglessness.

That’s everyone’s talking, and one person’s chirping.

We learn not to bother about what somebody else makes.  I mean, someone – okay, I’m bothering about it  – brokers the 10 billion dollar merger, receiving a “standard commission” of, I don’t know, five per cent for their services?

That’s five hundred million dollars! 

"That exclamation point reflects “personal bias.”

That’s five hundred million dollars.


For brokering one deal!

I mean, for brokering one deal.

“Good ‘correction’.  But watch it.”

I’ll try.

I don’t want to talk about that anymore.  One, it is personally upsetting.  And Two, that is just what we do here, and we are uninterested in doing anything else.  Why?  Because we might be impeded from someday, somehow, making five hundred million dollars ourselves.



I am watching a Howie Mandell comedy special.  (Hold on.  It ties in.)  And what he talks about in his routine reminds me this issue applies on the other end of the spectrum as well. 

Mandell selects an easy comedy “target” –

Washroom Attendants in restaurants.

A guy – at least in the Men’s Room… for now – sits in a chair, and, after you finish what you went in there to do, gives you a fresh hand towel, and sometimes, also turns on the taps.  So you can wash your hands.  And then dry them.

Nobody asked for this guy.  I never miss Washroom Attendants in washrooms that don’t have them.  In fact – with respect to the Washroom Attendant fraternity – I feel exactly the opposite about them.

I do not want them in there.

The guy makes me feel guilty.  And not because is he weren’t there, I would sneak out without washing my hands.  Okay, occasionally.  The guilt in question comes from being confronted by an issue I never requested but must uncomfortably address.

A man performs a service you could easily perform yourself.  Still, it seems to me – though not to the skinflints who unconscionably stiff him – the man deserves compensation for his totally unnecessary service.

The question is,

How much?

Five hundred million dollars?

That’s off the table.  He didn’t broker a merger.   He gave me a hand towel.  And maybe turned on the taps. 

The looming conundrum, hanging in the air like unwelcome air freshener is,

What is the value of that unnecessary service?

And while we’re at it, if a man performs two tasks – the towel and the taps, not just the towel, should his tip therefore be doubled?

On the other hand, his behavior could be seen as doubling the unasked-for intrusion.  What then?  Do you tip the guy who does more half?

All I see here is trouble.  Behold the lowly Washroom Attendant, hired to, ostensibly, “class up” the place.  Since his minimal salary will send no one to college, the man has to be tipped.  But how much?  A quarter?

“What is this?  The Thirties?”

Just “assessing the boundaries.”  How ‘bout a dollar?

A dollar’s “standard”, I suppose, but when was it originally established?  Minimum wage has gone up.  Tipping Washroom Attendants remains “flat”?  I hear Bernie Sanders proclaiming,

“In a country of millionaires and billionaires, we must remember our underpaid Washroom Attendants!”

Okay.  Two dollars.

Better than the lame, “I left my wallet in my sports jacket” and the even uglier “I’ll take care of you later”, you decide on two dollars.  Only to discover you do not have two “singles.”  It is appropriate to pay the shortfall in “silver”?

“Sure.  You could throw the loose change in his face!”

I am trying, okay?  In a way, I am the victim.

“Whose wallet’s bulging with big bills?”

Fine.  I’ll just drop him a “fifty.”

“Now that’s just insulting.  He may appreciate it, but it’s insulting.”


“Egregious over-tipping makes a joke of the whole Washroom Attendant tradition!  Give him the keys to your Lexus, why don’t you!”

I’m just asking, is there a set number for tipping a Washroom Attendant?

“I don’t know.  Just not nothing.  And not “fifty.”

Two people in this country.  One gets five hundred million, and it’s over.  The other, you stand in a bathroom, wondering what you’re supposed to do.

Quite often, our culture that makes no reasonable sense.

We don’t pretend that it does.

We just ignore that it doesn’t.

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