Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tipping isn't a city in China?!

One of the new experiences gained from living in Manhattan is the experience of having doormen.

Customer service in New York, as a rule, is terrible. Everyone is grouchy, if not scary. Witness the lady in the movie theater who while handing me my tickets, shouted to noone in particular "Oh my GOD is this shift OVER YET?"
Or the guy at Quiznos who, when I asked him to wait a second while I got out exact change (a bad habit from Japan, where coins plague you if you don't use them), muttered "Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not kill". Yes, right there in front of me. I tried glaring, but he didn't make eye contact, and when I said 'excuse me?!',he replied "NEXT", resulting in me getting jostled out of place.

I'm a pretty nice, laid-back person, in my humble opinion, but I can truly believe the story of people going back to Japan from New York and crying in gratitude.

But the exception to the rule of bad customer service has been the doormen. True, they don't do that much, but they are very friendly about it, and always have nice recommendations for restaurants and things to do.

I brought this up to my coworkers at one of our thursday evening drinking parties, and got a nasty shock: "Well yeah, but they're expecting to be compensated at Christmas."

All of them?! I thought...don't they get a salary?
Being new to the service industry expecting tips, (I hardly ever get my hair cut, don't get my nails done, and avoid valet like the plague), I quickly googled an appropriate tip for the doormen. Apparently, unlike 15% at restaurants, there is no 'appropriate' price, and those who do tip keep the exact value a well-kept secret, and those who actually talk tend to exaggerate.
"We gave him the keys to our mercedes-benz to use when we're out of town" snobbed one Upper-east side CEO.

There are six doormen and one superintendent in our building. Apparently Takeshi found out that none of the people who lived in this room before us (placed here by his company) knew to tip. Unfortunately, we didn't have that excuse.
After pacing around, fretting about it, and biting my nails, Takeshi said 'let's just give 'em $20 each and be done with it.' So that's what we did. And now there are 7 twenties missing from our pockets, and I'm still feeling guilty. I haven't noticed any change in attitudes from the doormen, so either they didn't mind, didn't notice, or are very swell gentlemen.:) Hats off to the doormen!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dear sky, please stop snowing. From Kyra.

It is officially December, aka, "offically" winter. If by official, you mean, in my head.

All throughout October and most of November, it had been unseasonably warm. I remember right before the halloween parade, walking to get lunch with my coworkers. It was around 80 degrees outside, and I had to ask.

"Is this normal, or is this global warming?"
"Global warming"
"Definitely global warming"
"yep" said the third, wiping sweat out of his eyes.

But now the tide has turned. It got cooler and cooler in November, and the air became clean and crisp (for New York, which means you can't acutally *smell* the garbage, as it is being refrigerated). To take advantage of the nice weather, I plucked up my courage, steeled my stomach, challenged the system and used my New York drivers license for the first time.
"Wow!" you should be saying. "I've seen movies about NYC and the crazy taxi drivers! Kyra, you are a brave brave girl!"

Yep. This brave soul took one look at the swerving cars and crazy bikers and pedestrians, and took the first train to New Jersey and rented from there.

Our vague plan was to drive around, look at some farms and stuff, and then go horseback riding. But as fate would have it, it was December 1st (which apparently the tri-state area weather system also sees as "officially" winter), and it started snowing.
"We can still go horseback riding!" I said with the crazed tone of someone who drew about 70 horses per day when she was little *and* owned a full set of my little ponies. Takeshi looked at me with an appropriate mix of disbelief and accusation. "It's below freezing!"
Me:"It'll be..romantic?"

That's when the snow turned to freezing rain, and even I gave up. Cars were spinning out and the roads were icing up. So we did the logical thing: going to an outlet mall and spent our remaining time purchasing sweaters and down jackets.

Thankfully it's gotten warmer, but it's already snowed 3 out of 7 days last week. I am not looking forward to January...did I mention it's supposed to get to negative 15 degrees? Farenheit?!

More whining next blog! ;)